Sunday, March 14, 2010

I Made Beef Jerky From Hamburger

While grocery shopping at my local Fred Meyer store one day a couple weeks ago, I discovered that they had a "Jerky Express" on sale for $19.95.  It contains a Nesco dehydrator and their jerky gun with three different nozzles, 5 sample packages of jerky seasoning, and 5 packages of jerky cure.  A jerky gun is like a cookie press, but instead of making spritz cookies, you make jerky strips from hamburger.  Even though I already own a dehydrator, I just "had" to have the Jerky Express.  The jerky gun kit alone is normally $20, so it was like getting the dehydrator for free.

So I went home with the Jerky Express and a pound of hamburger to try out.

I mixed the hamburger with a package of teriyaki-flavor seasoning and a package of the jerky cure.  I used my hands to mix the seasoning in well, as if I were making meatloaf (the spoon in the picture was for scooping it into the jerky gun. 

Then I loaded up the jerky gun and pressed out some jerky strips.

The press held a little less than 1/2 pounds of hamburger.  Pressing it out in strips the way you see here, I almost filled 4 dehydrator trays.  Then using a lamp-timer set to 6 hours, I turned on the dehydrator and went to bed.

When I got up the next morning, the hamburger had dried into leathery strips.  I put them on a cookie sheet and stuck them into a 160-degree (F) oven for an hour to make sure there were no nasty bacteria.  Then I pulled them out and blotted the grease off with paper towels. 

I took the jerky with me when I went to visit family for dinner the next evening, and we darn near polished off the jerky, so I had to make some more a couple days later.  It was that good.

The Jerky Express came with 1 each of 5 different seasoning flavors, so the next batch I made was the Original Flavor.  While this one tasted good, I found it too salty.  The little booklet said that if it's too salty you can make it with 1 1/2 pounds of hamburger instead of just a pound of hamburger.  So I'll probably do that next time.

All in all, I'm happy with my purchase.  I like the hamburger jerky:  it's cheap to make, and it isn't as hard to chew as sliced jerky.  And even though I already had a dehydrator, it's handy to have another one with the same size trays.  Both are expandable to 7 trays, so I can use the trays from the new dehydrator to expand my first one. 

The Jerky Express dehydrator isn't as powerful as the one I already had.  It's only 350 watts, and my other one is 425 watts.  But it worked will with the jerky.  I made fruit leather with it today, though, and it did take longer than with my other one.  It's good to have options.

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