Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dried Fruits and Meats

I would have fallen on the floor laughing if anyone had ever told me that I would be making my own beef jerky (or for that matter, eating beef jerky). Now, here I am, the proud new owner of a Nesco food dehydrator, finishing my first batch of London broil. The results? Excellent. I marinated 2 ½ pounds of meat overnight, set the dehydrator to “meat” setting and ran it for about 8 hours. The whole process is simple with the dehydrator.

I used the packaged jerky mix for my first try, but there are quite a few paleo-friendly marinades for jerky on the web. Most contain soy sauce or a combination of soy, Worcestershire sauce, and/or Liquid Smoke. These ingredients are not strictly paleo, but allow you to make a healthy protein-rich snack without resorting to the store bought varieties.
  • Homemade jerky is less expensive than purchasing it at the grocery store.
  • Lean meat will provide about 1 pound of dried meat for 3 pounds of fresh.
  • You can use pork, chicken, or turkey, but it must be heated in the oven at 165 degrees for 30 minutes after drying to protect against any salmonella.
  • Unrefrigerated jerky will only last for about 3 weeks. Refrigerate for longer shelf life, and freeze to keep it for up to 6 months.
  • Use your dehydrator for other foods, especially fruits. Bananas, apples, pineapple, and stone fruits are especially good when dried.

Here is a recipe for a meat marinade from the CrossFit forum, originally submitted by Tom Reyes:

5 pound eye of round roast
1 ½ cups water
12 teaspoons Lawry’s seasoned salt
4 teaspoons garlic powder
4 teaspoons chili powder
4 teaspoons pepper
Cayenne pepper, to taste
4 teaspoons Liquid Smoke

Trim roast of fat. Cut into very thin slices. (Partially freezing the meat first will make it easier to cut.)

Mix remaining ingredients together. Add meat slices and marinate overnight. Place in dehydrator at 160 degrees for 6-12 hours or until meat is dried; it should crack on the outside when you bend it.

Put small portions into Ziploc bags and store in the refrigerator.

There are many models of dehydrators, so check them out on sites such as Amazon. Most of them will allow you to buy and add additional racks and screens for large batches of fruits and meats. My Nesco American Harvest is relatively quiet, square (it fits in a corner of my kitchen), and is easily upgradeable. So far, I’m happy with it. Let me know if you have tips or recipes to share. 

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