This article is from the Food Preserving FAQ, by Eric Decker email@example.com with numerous contributions by others.
>From firstname.lastname@example.org ()
It's really easy. I just made some the other night. I don't follow a
recipe, but rather improvise.
Slice up some LEAN, raw beef in thin strips. Put it in a bowl and add some
salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, vinegar, worscheshire
sauce, sugar. (Be generous with the salt as this helps preserve it.)
Use any combination of the above ingredients, and whatever else you find
lying around the kitchen that seems like it ought to go good in the mix.
Keep tasting it as you mix stuff together until it tastes really, really
good. The very best jerky is spiced to the threshold of human pain. Use
lots of red pepper if you can tolerate hot stuff.
Heat the oven to about 150 degrees F. Spread the meat out on a nonstick
cookie sheet and put it in the oven with the oven door propped open (for
air circulation). Make SURE that the heat is NOT high enough to cook the
meat or it will be ruined. (actually, if it cooks, it will still taste
good, it just won't come out being jerky). When the meat is pretty dry
(but not so dry as to be crunchy) take it out of the oven and put it in
a plastic bag. If it seems to be getting a little damp feeling after a
few hours in the plastic bag, then you didn't dry it enough and it
should go back on the cookie sheet in the oven for a while.
Safety tip: Do not use pork, bear, or any meat that could carry parasites
such as trichina. All jerky is RAW, dried meat. I remember reading of
some people that got trichinosis from eating bear jerky.
[One other important jerky tip.
>From Richard Thead : in the bbq mailing list...
I have lots of experience smoking beef jerky. The bottom line is that if
you aren't careful, it's easy to get it too smoky. Early in my learning
curve, I made one batch that was completely inedible.
If you have a slow smoker or use wood mixed with other fuels, it's
easy--just don't use too much wood. Exactly how much will depend on
many things, so you'll just have to work it out by trial and error. I do
it in the slow smoking section of my pit using wood only for fuel. I've
learned that smoking it at around 140 to 150F for three hours gives me
the smoke flavor I like. At that point, the meat isn't completely dry,
so I finish it in a dehydrator (use an oven if you don't have a
dehydrator). One thing I'd recommend is to always add a teaspoon or so
of Tenderquick per 5 lbs of meat just to play it safe.
I've made it without any curing salts and lived to tell about it, but
nowadays I always use them. A half teaspoon of Prague powder #1 will do
too. How smoky was that incredible stuff? It was in a ziploc bag stored in
close proximity to some cashews in their own ziploc for a few hours, and
the cashews got so smoky tasting I couldn't eat them!