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How Long to Marinate Beef Jerky

How Long to Marinate Beef Jerky

Store-bought beef jerky is definitely one of the tastiest foods you will ever eat. However, homemade beef jerky will always trump store-bought jerky. 

Although it seems complicated, making beef jerky is relatively simple. Once you have your jerky, make and good quality beef, you will make beef jerky in no time.

But there is one special ingredient you need before making beef jerky: a marinade. Before you whip up a marinade for your beef jerky, it’s best to know how long to marinate beef jerky.

Does Jerky Need To Be Marinated?

Whether you marinate, beef jerky is optional. However, marinating beef jerky will enhance its flavor. In addition to this, it may help neutralize the bacteria in raw meat. 

Will the marinade kill all of the bacteria on the beef’s surface? Of course not. 

The seasoning and spice used to marinate the beef jerky can eliminate bacteria. 

For example, salt in the marinade can pull moisture out of the beef jerky, thereby preventing it from spoiling. 

When salt is combined with vinegar, alcohol, or other seasonings, it can actually preserve the beef jerky. 

Nevertheless, the biggest benefit of marinating beef jerky is that it adds flavor to meat and gives it a rich brown color. 

Beef Jerky Marinades 

When it comes to marinating beef jerky, there are a few options.

For example, you can use acid or liquid-based marinades consisting of vinegar, soy sauce, coconut aminos, teriyaki sauce, and olive oil. 

You can also use a marinade made from spices, herbs, and seasoning.

For example, salt, garlic powder, liquid smoke, cumin, Cajun seasoning, smoked paprika, oil, and black pepper makes an excellent marinade for beef jerky. 

You can also marinate your beef jerky with a sweet marinade. Honey, molasses, date syrup, maple syrup, brown sugar, and corn syrup are the perfect ingredients to give your beef jerky a sweet flavor. 

Can You Marinate Beef Jerky for Too Long?

Of course, you can marinate beef jerky for too long. 

If you let the beef jerky sit in the marinade too long, the marinade will start to break down the beef’s protein resulting in mushy beef jerky. 

In addition to this, over-marinating the beef jerky can also alter its flavor.

Therefore, when you cook the beef jerky in your jerky maker, you may not end up with what you expected. 

How Long To Marinate Beef Jerky 

Some people suggest that leaving beef jerky in the marinade too long isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

However, letting the beef jerky sit in the marinade for too long can actually ruin the ground beef, so how long do you marinate ground beef?

Ideally, marinating beef jerky aims to allow the marinade flavor to penetrate the beef. Therefore, it can take 16-18 hours to marinate beef jerky. 

If you are in a pinch and need to marinate the beef jerky as fast as possible, marinate it for 4 hours. 

How to Marinate Beef Jerky

You are probably craving salty dried beef jerky right now, so let’s talk about how to marinate beef jerky. 

Combine soy sauce, coconut aminos, salt, brown sugar, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, and honey in a sauce pot.

Place the marinade over medium-low heat and cook it for 5-8 minutes, stirring until the sugar and spices dissolve. 

Remove the marinade from the stove and let it cool completely.

Cut your beef into strips, place it into a ziplock bag, and add the marinade to the beef jerky. Make sure the beef jerky is submerged in the marinade. 

Yes, the beef jerky will be marinated for an extended time. However, the marinade needs to cover the beef jerky so it is evenly distributed and that each strip of beef absorbs its flavor. 

Place the beef jerky into a container, then place it into the fridge. The container prevents the marinate from contaminating the entire fridge if it does spill. 

Store the beef jerky in the fridge for at least 16 hours but no more than 48 hours.

To ensure your beef jerky remains safe, you can make a big batch of marinade and change the marinade every few hours.

Moreover, an acidic marinade can provide extra protection by keeping the jerky safe from bacteria. 

Alternatively, you can also place the beef jerky into vacuum sealer bags and seal the jerky using a vacuum sealer.

Believe it or not, using a vacuum sealer will decrease the beef jerky’s marinating time to a few hours. 

Once your beef jerky has been marinated, remove it from the marinade and pat it dry. To provide extra protection from bacteria, you can blanch the beef jerky. 

Blanching the beef jerky will neutralize any bacteria present on the bacteria. Simply cook them in boiling water for 3 minutes. 

Next, pat the blanched beef jerky dry and let it cool completely before placing them in your jerky maker. 

If you do not wish to blanch the beef jerky make sure you use lean, high-quality ground beef. If you use a cut of beef with a high-fat ratio, you will end up with greasy beef jerky. 

Can I Reuse Beef Jerky Marinade?

Do not reuse beef jerky marinade.

 Since the beef has already come into contact with the marinade, it can cause cross-contamination if you add the jerky or another food to the marinade. 

Usually, you can heat meat marinade on the stove for a few minutes until they hold a temperature of 165° for at least a minute. However, beef jerky marinades are different. 

The beef jerky will be dehydrated. Therefore, the goal is to dry it out.

It’s pointless to baste the beef jerky with the marinade as you would just be adding moisture to the heat. 

So, there’s no use for the marinade once you start dehydrating the beefy jerky.

It’s cheaper to toss the marinade in the trash rather than contaminating other food and possibly getting sick. 

Final Thoughts

Marination and beef jerky go hand in hand. However, you must know how long to marinate beef jerky so you do not end up with mushy beef jerky.

Marinate your beef jerky for 16-18 hours, and you will have the perfect beef jerky.

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