Art of the Hands

Time to Tinker

Tag: jerky


With the approach of spring and the reappearance of nice weather, I have started to have a hankering for hiking again. In that spirit, I have decided to do a project with a hiking theme today. I hope you enjoy!

You may or may not know this but I have celiac disease which means that I cannot eat gluten at all. Gluten, for those who don’t know, is a protein inside wheat and is often used as a bonding agent in many cooking recipes and as such, there is a lot of foods that I cant buy store bought, I have to make them. In the last few years, there has been an increase in store-bought foods that actually taste good and don’t cost a fortune, but there are still some foods that this still isn’t the case, and jerky is one of those foods. Most store-bought jerkies either have gluten in them directly or are produced in an environment where gluten is used, making it untrustworthy as to if it is actually gluten free. Because of that, I have decided to try to make my own.

I got the idea for this from a church-run camping trip I went on last year called treck. While you are at treck, you are divided into groups called families and you have adult volunteers leading the family who you call Ma and Pa. While on treck you pull handcarts with all your stuff for four or five days so you can experience to journey that the Mormon Pioneers experienced as the crossed the plains in their journey to the Utah Valley. My Ma and Pa were also eating a gluten-free diet and they brought with them this homemade jerky that was amazingly salty and delicious. They make it by cooking some thin cuts of steak then salting it and letting it dry in the salt. The result is a very salty and chewy jerky perfect for activities where you will be needing to replace the salt you are sweating. steak is expensive but I wanted to see if I could replicate the treat using hamburger meat. Why hamburger? It is what I had on hand, you could probably do just fine with chicken or possibly fish if you wanted.

I started by squishing some hamburger meat as this as I could between my hands and then cooking them in a frying pan.

once I was done, as you can see they swelled a little bit so it might be a good idea to squeeze as much of the fat out of the meat as you can before adding the salt. The salt will remove the fat anyway so you might as well reduce the mess by getting rid of it early. Once the meat is degreased, all you need to do is throw it in a bag with some salt and suck out the air. using larger salt pieces would probably work better but I used normal table salt and that seemed to work just fine so it is up to you.

Once you have let your meat cure for about a week, then all you need to do is wash the salt off in the sink and let the meat dry and you should be good. Don’t worry about removing the flavor, it has already soaked into the meat so thoroughly removing the salt on the surface of the meat will not hurt the flavor at all. If you are using a dense meat like steak or chicken then you might be better to just brush off the excess but the hamburger was so absorbent that you will defiantly want to remove as much salt as possible.

Fair warning, you will want to thoroughly remove as much salt as you can. This jerky can be a bit of an acquired taste because of the amount of salt in the meat. Unless your body is experiencing a salt deficiency,  your body will actually react and recoil at the amount of salt in this meat. You may find it disgusting or inedible. However, if you are in a position where you need a lot of salt fast then this meat is heaven sent. I have seen it revitalize people who were feeling faint because of the lack of salt in their system and I know from experience that the more salt deprived you are the more your body accepts the salt increase and so you stop finding the salt so unappealing and you get to start tasting the meat.  After a week I was totally hooked on this meat and have wanted to make it ever since. Steak is a better meat to do this with because it absorbs less salt, is chewier so it takes longer to eat, and has fat reserves to help you replenish your energy, however, hamburger meat will still work, you just sacrifice the chewiness and some of the fat for a lower price. as a bonus, I was able to make quite a bit of jerky with just one pound of meat so this is a cheap and easy was to make a delicious hiking snack for your summertime adventurers.

One last note, I tried flavoring my meat and it didn’t really work. Just stick to salt, it works way better. I hope you found this post interesting, good luck prepping for your summertime adventurers and I will see you for the next one. Untill then, Happy Tinkering!