Three Things You Need to Make Jerky

Creating your own delicious, nutritious snacks at home is easy, simple, and fun.

Jerky is a popular snack, and there’s little wonder why. Properly made jerky is tasty, low in fat, and high in protein. It’s also easy to carry along on any outing and it doesn’t need refrigerated. And, with the right tools on hand, it’s also quite easy—and fun—to make at home. A slicer will help you make precise, consistent cuts of meat, a dehydrator will pull the moisture from the meat and turn it into jerky, and a vacuum sealer will help you make packages you can grab-and-go.

This model can cut portions up to ¾” thick. OSTBA

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Even with a good knife, it is difficult to hand cut uniform slices of meat to ensure all your jerky finishes drying at the same time. A meat slicer solves that dilemma. Since different people prefer different jerky thicknesses, slicers with a wide adjustment range work best. Other attributes that separate good slicers for mediocre ones include a protective cover for safety when slicing, stainless steel blades, enough power to easily cut through meat, and easy disassembly for clean-up afterward. As a bonus, you can also use your meat slicer for shaving lunch meat or cheese that you buy in bulk to help reduce your grocery budget.

This model is ultra-quiet, and the slide-ins are dishwasher safe. COSORI

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You can make jerky in your oven, but a good food dryer, or dehydrator, keeps the temperature and humidity just right while you dry your meat. Just set the dehydrator on the correct setting for drying meat (see the owner’s manual) and leave it alone for hours at a time. Good jerky dryers have an easy-to-read thermostat for exact temperature control, plenty of tray room for all the jerky you intend to make at once, quiet operation, an auto shut-off function, and non-stick trays to make removing the final product easier. While plastic units will do the job, larger stainless-steel dehydrators last longer and provide more tray space for producing big batches of jerky at a time.

This dual-mode model is lightweight and takes up little counter space. GERYON

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A vacuum sealer keeps air out of the bag and prevents freezer burn, reducing spoilage and food waste. Used correctly, it can keep your jerky fresh for a year or more. A small vacuum sealer will suffice if you’ll only be packaging jerky, but you’ll need a larger one if you plan to package vegetables or meat for freezing, or you plan to vacuum pack cuts from meat you process yourself. Good sealers are easy to clean, and models with more than one vacuum mode are more versatile than single-mode sealers.