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How to Make Healthy, Low Sodium Beef Jerky

author image Katie Jensen
Katie Jensen's first book was published in 2000. Since then she has written additional books as well as screenplays, website content and e-books. Rosehill holds a Master of Business Administration from Arizona State University. Her articles specialize in business and personal finance. Her passion includes cooking, eating and writing about food.
How to Make Healthy, Low Sodium Beef Jerky
Homemade beef jerky is much healthier than packages of the salt-lade store-bought kind. Photo Credit: HandmadePictures/iStock/Getty Images

Beef jerky is packed with protein, however most commercial jerky is also loaded with salt. The salt is not required for preservation, just for the taste. Make your own beef jerky as a healthy alternative. It's not a difficult process, although it does take some time and attention to food safety practices.

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Dehydrator Method

Step 1

Place round steak or another cut of lean beef in the freezer, until it is semi-frozen but not rock hard, about 30 minutes or so. Cut very thin slices using a sharp knife no more than 1 inch wide.

Step 2

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add two handfuls of salt and one handful of white or brown sugar. Toss in seasonings of your choice. Bring the brine back to the boil. Put a good handful of the beef strips in the water. Stir so all beef strips are exposed to the water and not sticking together. Bring the water back to a boil, and let the beef cook for 2 minutes. Repeat with all the beef. This kills any surface bacteria. Place the strips on a clean plate. Refrigerate the beef strips if it takes more than 30 to 45 minutes to get all the strips boiled.

Step 3

Pat the beef strips dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with your choice of seasonings and spices. Add cayenne powder mixed with cinnamon and brown sugar for a sweet spicy jerky or cumin, cilantro and thyme for a Tex-Mex flavor. Use a spoon to press the seasonings into the beef.

Step 4

Place the seasoned beef on the shelves of a dehydrator. The strips should not be touching to allow for good air circulation. Rotate the shelves or trays every few hours. The temperature of the dehydrator should be a minimum of 130 to 140 F during the drying process. Dry until the beef is completely dry and almost crisp. It could take 4 to 5 hours or longer if the weather is humid.

Oven Method

Step 1

Marinate the thinly cut beef slices in your choice of apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, spices and seasonings for 24 hours. Avoid soy sauce, steak sauce and Worcestershire sauce which are all high in sodium. Remove from the refrigerator and pat dry.

Step 2

Place the slices on cookie racks and put the racks on baking sheets. Slide the baking sheets into a preheated 350-F oven. Bake for 5 minutes. Test the meat strips by placing the thermometer probe between two slices of meat. It should read 160 F. Lower the oven heat to 150 F.

Step 3

Dry until the beef is leathery. Exactly how long depends on how thick the slices are, and how moist they were from the marinade. It may take as long as 4 or 5 hours.

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