Momma Told Me: Excalibur Dehydrator Series: Beef Jerky

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Excalibur Dehydrator Series: Beef Jerky

Momma Told Me: I'm not buying that, I can make it!

If you're just joining us: In the Summer of 1991, at age 5, I recall hours (which to me seemed like weeks) of sitting in electronic warehouses watching my parents make their next major purchase. Momma, newly in remission, was still getting used to being a stay at home momma. Pop was over compensating the situation by indulging in every high tech kitchen appliance on the market. We'd already picked up 2 rice cookers, a Crock Pot, Steel Chamber Ice Cream Maker, Cutting Edge Microwave, Home Bread Maker- and were presently shopping Dehydrators- with a Meat Slicer surely to follow. Even so young, I remember staring up at the price tags, with so many digits, and gasping at the prices of these 'luxury' items. While today these kitchen electronics have become much more mainstream, in price and function, I still run into people who tilt their head when I mention such things. What do you need that for? And I've come to notice half our readers had never heard of a dehydrator until this series.

In either case, Momma taught me the value of a Renaissance housewife- the woman who's at home tasks change with the seasons and bring value to the household through frugality and innovation. Momma could shop a grocery bill down to pennies on the dollar (and in the best of times get paid to shop), complete my social studies model with dental floss and tongue depressors, or turn a broken vacuum into a terrarium. I learned from her never to waste, and that just because something comes in a frilled bag doesn't make it better than it's 'real', homemade, counterpart. And while Momma kept the dehydrator out year round, the summer was when our kitchen truly came to life. That was when I'd learn all her gourmet secrets and, like magic, a boring apple and yogurt blend would turn into a delicious fruit roll, or a piece of tough London Broil, tender and juicy beef jerky.

After introducing my brand new kitchenware baby: the 5 Tray Excalibur Home and Garden Dehydrator I began to discover new uses for this kitchen aid. However none matched up to Momma's tried and true recipe for beef jerky. Excalibur's unique Hyperwave Fluctuation Technology helps to effectively remove moisture from the entire piece of food, resulting in a superior dried meat that's consistent and flavorful. And, because of the stack-able square footprints and pull-out trays I can rotate my batches for quicker processing, or dry multiple items at once. (Of course, jerky and raw meat should always go on the bottom) Unlike many low end models Excalibur units allow for easy monitoring and switching during the baking process. There's no more messy layers to re-stack, and everything cooks evenly!

One of Momma's favorite Dehydrator projects was certainly beef jerky. She'd bribe the butcher with bags of it, have the neighbors attempting to buy it, and turn pop and I to putty with a single slice. If we were playing Family Feud, and the Survey Said: Name The First Thing That Comes To Mind When You Think of Your Momma, Jerky would be my Number 1. There was nothing more exciting for Pop and I than seeing the mounding portions of trimmed beef waiting in the fridge. And the aromas which filled our household during those days were enough to burn calories with anticipation. It's a wonder I didn't catch food poisoning trying to eat undercooked, stolen jerky slices as a child!

Many novice dehydrator users are often most skeptical of working with dried meats. The truth is making homemade jerky in an Excalibur Dehydrator couldn't be simpler (or more affordable)! Believe it or not, I've used over 10 cuts of beef in my jerky adventures, and Momma's favorite, London Broil is still the best for flavor and texture. When this cut is on sale, you can stock up for as low as less than $1/lb! In fact, the marinade is the most expensive part....but I can't share our family secret for that (Momma would kill me). Don't worry, half the fun is playing with flavors, and the trickiest part is in the cut. If you're not blessed enough to have access to a meat slicer, or a kind butcher, you can partially freeze the cut of meat. London Broil will tend to be 1-2" in thickness, and when partially frozen should cut into fine slivers easily. In fact, this cut lends itself well to the classic strips many associate with beef jerky.

A good place to start, for a marinade, is with a high sodium base, such as Soy Sauce. Adding spices and heat, if desired, isn't as integral at the marinade stage and all meat should be marinated at least 10 hours. Longer marinating cycles will result in more flavor, but be careful not to over do it or your jerky will come out too salty! Momma's jerky is a sweet and tangy version with hints of Teriyaki- one of her secrets is to sprinkle a generous layer of her special sugar and spice mixture halfway through the drying process. It's easiest to add flavor outside of the marinating tub/container- and this is where any heat (pepper/paprika/etc) should be sprinkled on. Depending on the cut and size of the pieces, dehydration will take 10-16 hours on average, at 415F or above. Excalibur's timer comes in especially handy for overnight batches. It's wonderful to wake up to fresh jerky! Best of all, clean up is a breeze thanks to the brand's complimenting line of non-stick sheets!

What Daughter Says: Everything tastes better when you make it yourself is only true if you know what you're doing. With Excalibur's comprehensive line of Dehydrators and accessories anyone can master the art of preserved snacks!

****Check back each Tuesday during the Summer to follow our Excalibur series, then be sure to come back on August 7th to enter our giveaway!

~See the Excalibur Introduction post here.

~See the Excalibur Fruits and Veggies post here.

~See the Excalibur Yogurt Rolls post here.

As required by the FTC: I received no monetary compensation for this post. I received a product sample in order to conduct my review. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.


  1. My husband would LOVE. On the way to the coast, there is a place that sells something like 40 types of jerky. Salmon, venison, buffalo... We always have to stop!

  2. I have always wanted to try a dehydrator.

  3. i am not sure how i would use this, but i would try to dry fruits & herbs for myself. this way i could save money and eat better tasting dishes.
    anne hill
    calliope_123 at hotmail dot com

  4. The recipe suggests cooking for 10 or more hours at 415 decrees? My goodness that is HOT! ;-) Maybe I'm missing something.

  5. The recipe suggests cooking for 10 or more hours at 415 decrees? My goodness that is HOT! ;-) Maybe I'm missing something.

  6. excalibur dehydrators do not exceed 155 degrees so basic information is very, very wrong.

  7. I'm thinking the temp was transposed... 145 degrees?

  8. I just love using the Excalibur 9 Tray Dehydrator. It's a new beef jerky dehydrator that will not let you down. The best part is you can dehydrate bigger portions all at the same time. also features it and other dehydrators that are comparable to it.

  9. How can you let us read about Mamma's best tasting jerky without giving us the recipe. I'm so sad.

  10. How can you let us read about Mamma's best tasting jerky without giving us the recipe. I'm so sad.

  11. Some may freeze their food others choose to dry their harvest because of the versatility you can have with the food. Fruits that are dried are great snacks even months after you dry them and vegetables can use in many recipes. You will see that when you have products like these you will be able to keep your harvest for even months after you have picked it.