Everyone knows that the perfect food for hiking and camping has 3 characteristics:
- High energy provider
- light to carry
- and something that will keep (not spoil quickly/easily).
I thought of an article like this after one of my roommates had some homemade beef jerky sent to him from his parents in Texas. The stuff was good! There's nothing like some good, homemade jerky.
Our food of choice when hiking is always some dried fruit, cereal bars, and some beef jerky. Along with plenty of water.
And here's the best part: While a dehydrator works best, it's not totally dependent on you creating an awesome batch of jerky right in your oven.
The recipes are below, but first the prep, dry, and storage procedures.
Prepping the Jerky isn't that Hard
Choose your base (beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, venison, tofu, etc), and mix all of the ingredients below (except for the base) together.
I found that the best way to do this and to marinate was to mix all of the yum yums in a resealable plastic bag.
After it's all mixed in the bag, then you can add your base jerky ingredient.
At that time, refrigerate and allow the base to marinate in the mix for between 8 and 24 hours. 24 hrs works best and that's what we went with; I bagged it in the morning and started to refrigerate.
Don't forget to take it out and work the base around in the bag a little bit so that each piece and edge gets all that good flavor to soak into it.
I mixed and worked the base around in the marinade at mid-day, mid-afternoon, before bed and then once in the early morning again. It's also important to remove as much as the air in the plastic bag as possible.
Drying the Jerky takes Awhile
After your prep/soak/marinade time then you can remove the base from the mixture, shaking or scraping to remove the excess marinade and arrange the base in a single layer. Again, a dehydrator works best but we did ours in our oven.
The best temperature to make jerky is 165 degrees F. Here's the thing, though, most modern ovens are impossible to get below 165 on a consistent temp.
So, here's what we did: We set the oven to 200 degrees and then wedge a wooden spoon at the top of the door to keep it cracked and a little bit cooler. It worked really well!
The jerky should be placed on a cooling rack and then place that rack on a cookie sheet. This allows the hot air to move all around the base and the cookie sheet catches all of the liquids and juices that are coming off your homemade jerky.
From what we learned and experienced, the best jerky was made when it was easy to bend the meat (we used beef) but when it didn't crack or snap apart (too dry).
Storage is Easy
Once the jerky is cooled then take a quick look for any spots of moisture or oil.
Pat that off with a paper towel or napkin. Then just put your jerky in resealable plastic bags or small Tupperware type containers.
The greatest thing here is that you can ration it out in smaller bags and/or larger containers and bags, depending on big of a batch of jerky that you made. Boom!
You got DIY Home Made Jerky and you're ready to hike, camp, watch a movie or just snack whenever you want a great energy source that's pretty much healthy as heck for you.
DIY Home Made Jerky Recipes
We're going to go with a little set to get you started; beef, salmon, vegetable, and tofu.
Spicy Sriracha Sweet Jerky
This is one of our favorites and that's why we're starting off with it. We made a batch of this last week, and I'm actually nibbling on some right now as I write.
- ½ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- ½ cup sriracha sauce
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp granulated ginger
- 1 tsp granulated garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 pound London broil cut into eighth of an inch to quarter of an inch-thick strips
Salmon Jerky with Ginger and Chili Oil
I'm a big salmon fan and I love just about any fish jerky. This salmon is full of flavor with spice and citrus. Explosion of flavor!
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
- 1 Tbsp chili oil (with seeds)
- 1 Tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
- 2 tsp kosher salt 1 lb. wild, skinned salmon, cut into ¼-inch-thick strips
Eggplant Jerky with Miso and Ginger
Okay, this isn't my cup of tea but it's a great recipe for vegetarians or who just want to make veggie jerky works. This one is crispy, sweet, and savory.
- 6 Tbsp white miso
- 3 Tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1?½ Tbsp water
- 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp soy sauce 2 medium-size eggplants (about 2 pounds), cut into ¼-inch circles
*Dry this one at 145°F for 4 to 6 hours.
You know how I said that I love fish jerky? Well, right now we're living in Hawaii and I'm loving all of the ahi jerky, aku jerky, and marlin jerky. As an added bonus, here's a Hawaiian Fish Home Made Jerky recipe from Field & Stream. Go and check it out. I know that you'll love it.
So there you have it - a simple and tasty way to add a protein fix to your hiking food with no special equipment required (although for gadget geeks, a dehydrator is a damn good purchase!
Armed with this and some trail mix you should be good for pretty much any day hike or short over-nighter