I have recently fallen in love with a new kitchen appliance – my dehydrator! I originally bought the dehydrator for the purpose of dehydrating food for backpacking this summer; however, I quickly realized that this appliance has many more uses! It is great for making natural, healthy snack foods, jerky, and dried herbs. In this post, I want to share one of the jerky recipes I’ve developed with you – Rosemary-Thyme Turkey Jerky.
As an avid climber, hiker, and outdoors lover, I’m always looking for bars and other snack foods that I can bring with me on my adventures. I am selective about the foods I put into my body, and many bars simply don’t make the cut because they are filled with unsavory ingredients such as soy protein, high fructose corn syrup, additives, and preservatives. I’ve tried many commercial Paleo beef jerkies and food bars, but these can get to be very expensive, especially at the rate with which I go through them. That’s why I decided it was time to buy a dehydrator and try making my own food bars, jerky, and dried fruit. I did a bunch of research on dehydrators and ultimately settled on the Gourmia Premium Countertop Dehydrator. This dehydrator is sturdy, reliable, and very affordable compared to other high-quality dehydrators out there (I’m talking to you, $300 Excalibur Dehydrator!). I also went ahead and bought a jerky gun, a device for making ground meat jerky strips. Together, these two purchases have made it possible for me to make tasty, nutritious jerky and other dried snack foods to take with me on my outdoor adventures!
So far, my favorite jerky I’ve made is this Rosemary Thyme Turkey Jerky. It is 100% paleo, gluten- and dairy-free, and even AIP-compliant. It has just the right amount of saltiness and chewiness, with a rich rosemary-thyme flavor.
Rosemary-Thyme Turkey Jerky
1 lb ground turkey
1 tbsp coconut aminos
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp sea salt
Grind the ground turkey down further in a food processor. This makes the ground meat finer and easier to load into and extrude from the jerky gun.
Once the turkey is ground, add the coconut aminos, lemon juice, rosemary, thyme, and salt into the food processor and puree until well-blended.
With clean, bare hands, load the meat mixture into the jerky gun. My jerky gun can hold up to 2.7 lbs at once, but I only filled it about a third of the way the first round because it is hard to get the meat all the way into the gun barrel. This meant I needed to load the gun with ground meat a total of three times.
Line the trays of your dehydrator with parchment paper. Insert the flat tip onto the jerky gun (jerky guns typically come with two tip options: A flat tip and a beef stick attachment). Slowly press the lever and lay down strips of jerky onto the parchment paper-lined dehydrator trays. Leave ½ to 1 inch of space between each strip of jerky to allow for adequate air circulation. Using 1 lb of ground turkey, I ended up with two trays of jerky strips. (Note: If you choose to substitute a fattier meat for turkey, don’t line each individual tray with parchment paper; instead, lay down strips of jerky directly on the plastic trays and place a piece of parchment paper at the base of the dehydrator to catch dripping fat. Removing fat from the drying jerky is essential to prevent rancidity).
Place the loaded trays into your dehydrator and set to 155° F. Dehydrate for 6 hours. Depending on the dehydrator you use, it may take slightly less or slightly more time to reach the point of optimal dryness. If your meat has a high fat content, you may need to blot it several times over the course of the 6-hour drying period to remove excess fat.
Once dehydrated, allow the jerky strips to cool completely before putting them into storage. I stored mine in a glass food container until I was ready to take it on a camping trip, in which case I transferred it to a Ziploc bag.
Final note: Post-Drying Heating of Jerky
Some food dehydrating experts recommend post-drying heating of jerky to assure food safety. I personally did not do this with my turkey jerky because I knew that the meat came from a farm with high cleanliness standards. However, should you choose to heat your jerky after it has dehydrated, here are the steps you need to take:
Approximately 20 minutes before your jerky is ready to remove from the dehydrator, preheat your oven to 275° F.
Once the oven is at 275° F, transfer the dehydrated jerky from the plastic trays to a metal baking sheet and place in the oven 10 minutes maximum. Watch carefully to make sure the meat doesn’t burn.
After 10 minutes, remove the jerky from the oven and transfer to a cool, dry surface. Cool to room temperature before packing for storage.
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