Homemade Beef Jerky – Tips For Cutting Meat

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homemade beef jerky
Today as part of my series on homemade beef jerky, I am going to talk about how I go about slicing meat into jerky size pieces.

One of my favorite cuts of beef is the flank steak. It is awesome cooked out on my Kamado Joe. I can get a great looking sear and still get it off the grill at a really tasty medium rare.

The flank steak is ideal to make jerky out of as well. It is a somewhat longer and flatter cut, with a good beefy flavor. It tends to be a bit on the tougher side when used in your main dishes. That is why folks tend to cut across the grain of the cooked meat in thin strips, think of making fajitas here, –high heat, quick cooking.

Flank steak also takes well to marinades.

I can usually pick up a flank steak in one of those vacuum-sealed bags for about $8.00 a pound at normal prices. Most of these packages weigh anywhere from 1.5 to 2 or so pounds. Enough for about a weeks’ worth of jerky.

First things first, gather your cutting board, a roll of plastic wrap, and a good sharp filet knife. This is the one I use, the Rapala 6-inch filet knife, they are inexpensive and are razor sharp straight out of the package. Since I do a lot of fishing, I have a few of these around.

Next, open the vacuum-sealed bag and “unfold” the flank steak. I don’t know why these get “folded” but that is how they come from my local big-box store.

homemade beef jerky

Flank steak, “unfolded” and fresh from the package.

Use that filet knife to trim away any excess fat and membranes that you see.

homemade beef jerky

All trimmed up and ready to freeze

Another note: lots of what you might read on-line, in magazine, and books all say that you must remove all visible fat. I am not sure how many of these folks ever made any beef jerky, as this is just not possible.

“They” say the reason you do this is that fat makes the jerky go rancid faster. Well maybe it does? A batch of my homemade beef jerky does not last very long anyhow. More on this later in future posts, this is about prepping the meat to make beef jerky.

Once everything is all trimmed up, wrap the flank steak with plastic wrap. Take care to leave it flat.

Place it into your freezer for about 2 hours. You want it to be mostly frozen, but not rock hard. After you get some experience doing this in your freezer, you will be an expert on the timing.

If you have a thicker flank steak, maybe go a bit more than 2 hours, but this is more or less what to shoot for. Just start checking it around the 1 1/2 hour mark. Your freezer might be warmer or colder than mine.

When the meat is ready, unwrap and get to slicing!

A good chefs knife or santuko style knives really work well for this task. This is my chef’s knife, I also have this Santuko knife. Both have lifetime warranties. With hundreds of 5 star Amazon reviews I can feel confident I am getting a good product.

With your mostly frozen flank steak laid out on your cutting board, cut thin even strips. Aim for consistency, 1/8 to 3/16 or so. Don’t worry if some of these strips end up on the thicker or thinner side.

If you like a chewier jerky, cut with the grain, if you want more of a crumblier texture, cut across the grain. No rules here, lots of options!

If you want to use your homemade beef jerky in other recipes then consider cutting across the grain. I will be sharing those recipes as well.

Next, I shorten those long strips into 5- or 6-inch lengths to better fit in my dehydrator. Don’t yet have a dehydrator, check out this post on what to consider!

Shorter lengths of jerky fit better in my storage containers, zip top style bags, or for later vacuum sealing of the finished product.

Now you’re ready to marinate these strips with your secret beef jerky recipe!
homemade beef jerky


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