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The Best Low Sodium Beef Jerky Recipe You Can Try at Home!

Written by Peter Allen on . Posted in food

If there’s anything pure and healthy to add to your diet, it’s low salt beef jerky.

Jerky is greatly enjoyed all over the world, either as a side meal or as a snack or special treat. But among all the jerky recipes, it’s rare to find one without excess salt. The problem is that jerky is traditionally made with preservation techniques requiring salt by nature of the process.

But don’t fret! In consideration of the concerns of people suffering from high blood pressure or other sodium-related disorders, I am bringing you a low sodium beef jerky recipe with much less salt and consequently far less sodium content.

Now you don’t need to worry about sodium levels while taking a bite of this delight! And the great part is that it’s no less tasty than jerky full of sodium.

Ever since I learned about the harm of excess sodium intake, I became more careful than ever. So much so that I even stopped eating meat jerky at all. I tried cutting off the salt altogether from the recipe, but it was just not working for me. I wanted the same old meat jerky, full of flavor.

After days of searching, I finally got my hands on this recipe. And to my surprise, it tasted even better even though the sodium content was quite low! By substituting other spices, I even omit the salt at times and it still tastes great.

This recipe will surely meet the needs of all health-conscious individuals, but it can also serve the demands of a foodie. I myself was very satisfied with the outcome of this low sodium beef jerky recipe. It’s so close to the one my mother used to make when we were kids.

I still have her recipe, but had to switch to the low sodium one if I was serious about the health concerns of me and my family. This new recipe is great for anyone dealing with hypertension or high blood pressure. You don’t always need a huge amount of salt to preserve the food—there are several other ways to restrict sodium.

Store Bought Jerky – Never a Good Idea!

This is not the first time I will be answering this question since many people have already asked: Why go through this trouble when you can easily get store packed jerky any time?

But keep this fact in mind!

Commercially produced meat jerky is full of salt, and they even use excess salt for longer preservation of the meat. However, jerky can also be sustained without too much salt if the marinade has other ingredients in its combination.

Using a large amount of salt for preservation may be well-suited for a commercial enterprise, but it ruins the nutritional value of the jerky. Eating such dehydrated meat is like slowly poisoning yourself.

A far better option for anyone, whether they are healthy or suffering from health complexities, is to play it safe and make no salt beef jerky to enjoy all the time.

There are two methods of making beef jerky. You should set aside enough time to keep an eye on it while it is dehydrating. Weekends are probably the best bet to make some jerky, which you can then store for another week or two.

Both methods require an equal amount of cooking time. But that all depends on whether you have the right appliance for it. Dehydrators are often used to make a nice jerky. They maintain a perfect temperature and time for the dehydration process. However, not everyone owns a dehydrator, so the oven can also be used for the same purpose.

As long as the temperature setting is kept at the lowest, the oven can make as good a jerky as any dehydrator can. Each of these appliances requires different techniques to set the dehydration process in motion, so here is a quick review to get some idea about what we’re working with.

Making Unsalted Beef Jerky in a Dehydrator

After cutting, slicing and marinating the beef, the use of dehydrator comes into play. To make jerky in a dehydrator, it is important to at least marinate it overnight. However, if you don’t have time to wait around then here is another secret to infusing flavor deep into every grain of the meat.

First slice the meat into 1-inch wide pieces and set them aside. Meanwhile, boil water in a pot along with half of all the beef jerky seasonings that are used for marination (later discussed in the article).

Keep boiling this mixture then add those sliced beef strips into this seasoned water. After cooking these strips for 2 minutes in this water, transfer them to a plate lined with a paper towel and drain all the excess water.

Sprinkle the remaining half of the seasoning over the strips, using a spoon to spread and press the seasoning over the beef strips well. Now place these strips over the dehydrator’ rack with small spaces between them.

Generally, it takes about 130 degrees F to dehydrate the jerky. However, the size and thickness of the slices and time of marination greatly affect the cooking time. So, it varies from recipe to recipe. Usually, it requires 5 to 6 hours at most in a humid climate.

If you haven’t used a dehydrator yet, then I would like to share some additional tips here. Firstly, keep an eye on the things dehydrating inside. Even though the machine is controlled by the timer and temperature settings, without constant supervision the meat can become too dehydrated or stiff.

Secondly, clean the dehydrator plate thoroughly right after every dehydration session. Avoid adding excess liquid or water while dehydrating the meat. It is always recommended to shake off the food to release all excess material before setting it on the dehydrating plate. If not it can mess with your cooking time.

Beef Jerky in an Oven

The boiling method is not usually used when you make jerky using an oven. Marination is more important in this case. It takes at least 24 hours for complete absorption of the marinade into the beef. Keep the slice size and thickness 1 inch when cutting the beef.

After marination, pat dry the slices and arrange them on a rack. Keep this rack on a baking sheet then insert it into a preheated oven for 5 minutes at 350 degrees. After that reduce the temperature to 150 degrees F and let the jerky dehydrate for 5 to 6 hours.

At this low temperature, the beef will slowly release all the moisture in the air without losing its essential nutrients and minerals. It is basically controlled cooking of meat at extremely low temperatures.

Making beef jerky in the oven is a tricky business, it requires great care and effort to get the final product you want. That is why I do not recommend an oven to make beef jerky, especially if you are making it for the first time. When you dehydrate jerky in an oven, there is always a risk of overcooking. The oven is a closed vessel which is not ideal for dehydration.

However, it is a good option if you do not have a dehydrating plate at home. It is always safe to use the dehydrator and cook at extremely low temperatures. Set the temperature and time exactly according to the grain and thickness of the meat. Cutting against the grain gives an appropriate texture to the beef jerky.

Appetizing Sodium Free Beef Jerky Recipe

Healthy beef jerky can be as simple as making any other everyday snack. Ever since I embarked on my way towards a Homemade beef jerky recipe, I have been amazed how versatile the recipe is and how it can be adapted to all taste preferences. Pineapple juice is my personal favorite.  When it is absorbed into the meat along with spices, it turns out simply delightful.

Ingredients

  • lean cut beef (top round roasts work well)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 sage leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup pineapple juice

Directions

The meat must be frozen for a few hours before you start making the jerky. This keeps the texture of the meat perfect for easier slicing. Now take the meat and place it on a cutting surface. Use a sharp knife to cut it against the grain into ¼ inch thin slices. Cutting against the grain gives softer and more tender meat jerky.

Whereas when you cut it with the grain, you will get was is called ‘tough jerk.’ Make sure to remove all the ligaments and fat while cutting the meat, as fat can spoil the meat during cooking.

Keep the meat aside for a while and meanwhile finely chop the garlic and fresh herbs. Add all the spices along with pineapple juice to a big bowl or any large container and mix them well. Now place the sliced meat strips in the marinade and cover the container.

Let it refrigerate the whole night for optimal marination.

Those using an oven for dehydration of the meat should line the bottom of the oven with tin foil. Otherwise, the drippings from the meat will produce unwanted smoke and mess inside the oven.

The dehydrator is a better option, and is perfect for making jerky. Drain the marinated meat and start laying the strips over the dehydrator racks.

Leave enough space between the strips to allow air circulation. Set the dehydrator at 165 degrees C to slowly dehydrate the meat. Flip the meat after 3 hours and continue dehydrating for 6 hours. Set the oven to the lowest temperature settings, about 170 degrees C.

The time for dehydration depends upon the climate, but at most it should take about 6 hours. You can check the doneness of the jerky by bending it. If the center remains connected while snapping, that means the jerky is ready.

Whereas if it bends without any snapping then let you should let it dehydrate for some extra time. Also avoid over dehydration as this can fossilize your meat, making it break into two pieces upon bending.

When the meat jerky is done, place it in on paper towels to absorb all the moisture. Place it in an airtight jar and refrigerate. Enjoy within two weeks of making the jerky. Use extra seasoning or sauce when you serve the jerky if you please.

Always store the meat jerky in a clean and airtight container, no matter the recipe or method of dehydrating. Only proper storage can prolong the life of the jerky while keeping its taste fresh and inspiring.

A low sodium jerky is made out with less salt, and so should be preserved with greater care. Do not leave it outside even for half an hour during summer! Or even at room temperature for that matter. You would not like the taste of spoiled beef jerky, trust me! It’s neither healthy nor delicious.

Conclusion

Low sodium beef jerky is a healthy snack or side for a meal. It is nice to have ready in your refrigerator for a crunchy and juicy delight. Whereas market-bought jerky is always full of sodium or other preservatives, making it at home allows you to control what you put into your body.

Now you know how to enjoy this classic treat with a very simple low sodium beef jerky recipe right at home. Pineapple juice is just another tasty twist to the jerky. You can go with lemon, orange or any other citrus juice.

Some people find pineapple juice too sweet, so these alternatives are great for them. Meat jerky is a direct and clean source of protein. Most health-oriented diets do not restrict such intake, so it is a nice option to keep ready at home for a protein fix. Have fun!

Peter Allen

Peter Allen

Peter's path through the culinary world has taken a number of unexpected turns. After starting out as a waiter at the age of 16, he was inspired to go to culinary school and learn the tricks of the trade. As he delved deeper, however, his career took a sudden turn when a family friend needed someone to help manage his business. Peter now scratches his culinary itch on the internet by blogging, sharing recipes, and socializing with food enthusiasts worldwide.

Comments (1)

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    Joseph Kennedy

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    I’m glad for recipe as I’m on a low sodium diet and enjoy jerky.

    Is the temperature for the dehydrator supposed to be ⁰F ?

    Thanks, Joe

    Reply

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