I am very happy to show you guys my homemade jerky. I have only made 4 batches so far but each time I have learned something new about how the flavoring process works and what flavors work well together. I plan to compile a recipe book once I have created a few more flavors than the three I have made so far.
My first experience making beef jerky was around the beginning of this past December. I wasn't sure I could cut the meat properly so I went to the grocery store and had the meat guy cut me five pounds of meat, I asked for very lean 6-8 inch long slices about 1/8th inch thick sliced across the grain but instead he gave me 5 pounds of stir fry strips which he assured me would work just fine. They did indeed work just fine. I made my marinade (a recipe I found online) which consisted of 3 different sauces and a bunch of spices(which I later found out were unnecessary because you could not taste them at all). The marinade came out tasting very teriyaki with a lot of sweetness and just a bit of saltiness and garlic. All together a very savory flavor that was fun to chew on until the flavor was completely gone. A very good and tasty first try!
My second batch which I made just a bit before Christmas did not turn out as expected. I was given some frozen meat from a coworker and I picked up a bit of extra from the store. This time I sliced all the meat myself into the desired sizes and thicknesses. I was attempting to make a spicy and sweet mango habenero version this time. This recipe which I also found online sounded good but again had a lot of spices that were not really needed, but I will still unwilling to experiment on my own yet. So I went ahead and followed the recipe which involved ginger root, a thing I am very inexperienced with, some habenero peppers and some other spices. This time instead of mixing the marinade in a bowl and wasting a lot of time chopping everything I put it all in the blender and let it do the work. The marinade tasted decent but very gingery. I went ahead and marinated the meat and dried it and it came out very bland tasting and also a bit too dried out. I think the combination of using frozen meat and possibly the ginger killed the flavor. I gave this whole batch away.
My third batch in which I tried again on the mango habenero came out great! I made this batch at the beginning of January This time around I threw caution to the winds and decided to make my own marinade. I grabbed 8 habeneros and 8 jalapenos as well as some garlic, onion, and a few other spices that would I though show up in the flavor at the end of the process. My marinade turned out great but was super spicy. I went ahead anyway and dried the meat and when it was done promptly found the evil side of this jerky. That was that it was very sweet at the beginning until the wall of heat hit you and your whole mouth went ablaze! Then after that faded a bit you could taste the garlic and onion and other spices as well as the sweetness of the mango. It faded to just extreme heat and stayed that way for around 10 minutes. I found that I could only eat a few pieces in a row before I had to quit for the day (my record was 8 pieces in a row, which while eating I drank an entire quarter gallon of chocolate milk). I called this batch a success even though it was almost too hot even for my nearly fire proof mouth that enjoys eating raw jalapenos for a snack.
My fourth and latest batch was finished today and I think it is my favorite so far. I decided to go for a barbeque flavor this time. I went to the store and got my ingredients which included meat, garlic and bbq sauce. I also got 3 jalapenos to add a small bit of heat since I really enjoy all things spicy. I had the other needed stuff already at home. I stuck an onion, some garlic, vinegar, bbq sauce, jalapenos, pepper and salt in my blender and hit the button. I cut the meat up and poured the marinade over it. I then tasted the marinade which had the main bbq flavor I wanted with some peppery smokiness and a garlic and onion after taste with the mild heat all the way through. I dried the beef out and at around 9 pm EST it was done! It came out sooooo good. It was exactly the flavor I was going for.
Now for a couple of pictures!
Second batch of Mango Habenero http://www.flickr.com/photos/garathnor/12144974703/
Bbq jerky http://www.flickr.com/photos/garathnor/12145073034/