I love beef jerky! What I don’t love is all of the sodium and other junk associated with most store bought beef jerky.
So I decided I would just make my own. Sounds simple right? Wrong! Almost all of the recipes I found contained massive amounts of soy sauce, teriyaki sauce and sugar. None of that works with my way of eating, which meant that I was on a mission – to find a “healthy” way to make my own beef jerky without the traditional ingredients.
I started with coconut aminos. If you are not familiar with coconut aminos, they are created from coconut sap which has been “tapped” from coconut blossoms (the flowering portion of the tree present before coconuts grow) and blended with sun-dried, mineral-rich sea salt. It contains 17 naturally occurring amino acids, has almost a perfectly level pH balance, yields a low glycemic index of only 35 and is said to be a high source of broad-spectrum B vitamins, including inostol. This is not to mention that it contains 300 percent less sodium than the leading soy sauce available!
Next, I needed sweetness. Instead of sugar, I used organic crushed pineapple. To create a more interesting flavor profile, I added gochujang (fermented chili paste), ground ginger, lemon grass paste, garlic and sriracha. That is it! No mystery ingredients, just natural, organic flavors.
Slice grass fed beef very thin, marinate for a few hours and cook low and slow and you have the best tasting jerky you can imagine for a fraction of the price that you pay for the stuff at the store.
Be sure to cool thoroughly and store in an airtight bag. Enjoy!!
“Healthy” Reduced Sodium Beef Jerky
4 lbs Beef Eye of around or other lean cut, sliced into 1/8” slices
2 cups Coconut Aminos
1 tbsp Organic Gochujang (fermented chili paste)
1 tbsp Ground Ginger
1 tbsp Lemongrass Paste
4 tbsp Organic Crushed Pineapple
1 tsp Ground or Minced Garlic
Sriracha Sauce to taste (I used about 2 tsps)
Freeze the meat for at least an hour to make it easier to slice.
While the meat is in the freezer, mix up your marinade. Whisk all of the above ingredients together. Taste to check for balance. Is it too salty? Add a bit more pineapple. Is it too sweet, add a bit more of the aminos. Not hot enough, add sriracha.
Trim meat of any visible fat. Thinly and carefully slice the meat into 1/8” slices. If they are too long, cut in half so everything is manageable. Combine meat and marinade and mix well. Make sure all of the meat is separated and is exposed to the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Mix meat and marinade again to ensure all of the meat is equally treated. Refrigerate for another hour. The meat can marinade overnight if it is more convenient.
Preheat smoker or oven to 200 degrees. Remove meat strips from marinade and carefully arrange on wire rack. I prefer to cook mine in the smoker because I loved the smoked, almost bacon flavor it imparts. I use pecan wood for this smoke.
If you don’t have access to a smoker, don’t be frustrated as it can also be done in the oven. If you are making in the oven, be sure to use racks that will fit into baking sheets to catch the drips.
Cook times can fluctuate wildly so be patient and check often, starting at about 2 hours. You will want the meat to be cooked through, but still somewhat tender. You are not looking for shoe leather consistency. Throw out everything you know about jerky based on the sodium laden, jaw breaking stuff you are used to from the store and get ready for the most flavorful, tender and healthy jerky you have ever tasted!