Saturday, 30 April 2011

Beef Jerky for My Sweetie

My boyfriend loves meat in all shapes and sizes (big preferably, but he'll take anything). In fact, he's practically a cave man when there's a big block of meat around.

But all that changed after I showed him information on sodium nitrate.

Sodium nitrate is not found in fresh meat but it is put into a lot of processed meats for a couple of different reasons.

The first reason is to simply preserve the colour of processed meats like salami, ham, bacon, pepperoni, and beef jerky.

I don't really care if my meat is super red or not but I guess people think it's fresher looking if it's red, so they'll throw it in there.

The other reason is that sodium nitrate prevents bacteria that causes botulism from forming.

This reason is great. I sure don't want to get botulism. I don't want any kind of food poisoning at all.

But after I looked into botulism I saw that it's really rare and only about 110 people in the United States out of the whole 300 million population get it a year. When I learned that, I didn't feel like I was in danger of getting it.

Now for the consequences of sodium nitrate.

I'm no expert, but this is what I've heard -- In high levels sodium nitrate can be very toxic and even cancer causing. You can get migraines and there have been studies done on relating lung disease to sodium nitrate as well.

So that means that because of the possible consequences of sodium nitrate, I'm going to limit the amount of processed meats I consume. I still eat ham and bacon, just less than I might have before I knew about sodium nitrate because those consequences only occur because of high level intake of sodium nitrate.

Still after hearing the consequences my stubborn boyfriend would prefer to eat only meat without sodium nitrate so I decided to make him some homemade beef jerky. I don't have a dehydrator so I had only my oven to help me.

I found a recipe on the Internet and changed it up to make it suit the ingredients I had on hand and to make it easier on myself. Here it is:

Beef Jerky

Beware before you begin. You need to freeze your beef for cutting and then marinate it for 24 hours. Cooking takes another 4 - 5 hours. So make sure you plan ahead for this one.


1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 


1 pound of beef -- choose something without a lot of fat because you want to cut if off before you begin. I used a sirloin roast. 


1. Freeze your beef for a few hours so that it's easy to cut in thin strips. You can freeze overnight and  then just let it begin to thaw on your counter. If you're like me, you might try to cut right away and curse your knife for not being stronger and your arms for not having more muscles, but then you'll realize thawing might help.  

2. Slice really thin slices of beef with your knife. Bigger is better because your slices will shrink up in the oven. Be careful not to cut yourself and if you get nervous towards the end of your roast, just stop. That steak you've made will taste lovely for breakfast tomorrow. 

3. Mix up your marinade in a plastic bag or a large flat container. Place all the slices in the container or bag and mix it up so that the marinade touches all the slices. 

4. Place in the fridge for 24 hours. If you have time, return to the fridge a few times to mix up your meat incase your pieces are marinating evenly. 

5. Prep your oven. Lay aluminum foil along the bottom rack of your oven and lay your meat directly on the top rack. Grind some pepper and chili flakes on top if you like. 

6. Close up the oven and bake really low at 150 - 175 degrees for 4 - 5 hours. I tried cooking some of the time with the oven door open and some closed but it didn't make much of a difference so I closed the door. 

7. Enjoy them in the next few days because there's no preservatives here! I know Luke did!

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