In our original post, we covered the homemade jerky process on a fairly high level. Here, we will delve a bit more deeply into step 5 of the original post. There are a surprising number of ways to effectively marinate your raw meat, no pun intended (twss?). Remember, this is after you’ve sliced your meat and prepared your marinade. The question now is, where do we put this soon-to-be delicious jerky?
We’ll start with the simplest and cheapest method: the trusted Ziploc bag.
You’ll want a bag (or multiple bags) to comfortably accommodate your meat and marinade. You can fill them generously, but you shouldn’t have any trouble closing the bag. There should be enough marinade to not leave any piece of meat neglected of marinade. Once you’re ready to close the bag, you should try to create as much of a vacuum seal is possible, whether this means sucking the excess air out with your mouth (keep your mind out of the gutter, please) or using a real vacuum and quickly closing the bag. Place your marinating beef jerky in the fridge and let it absorb succulent juices overnight. It’s very difficult to over-marinate, so err on the side of leaving it in longer rather than shorter.
Next, we have vacuum sealed containers, which are highly effective.
Vacuum sealed containers are exactly what they sound like. They are like Tupperware, only with a valve on top that allows a hose to suck all the air out without letting it come back in. There are many options and you can get one for $20, depending on the size you are looking for. I recommend a taller container, rather than a flatter/wider one, since it will be easier to coat more meat in the marinade with a taller type. Obviously, the more jerky you want to make per batch, the bigger your container. Whichever size you choose, make sure it still fits in your fridge! In the case of the vacuum sealed container, fill it first with marinade and then toss your jerky in, until the jerky is just barely covered in marinade. You can always add more marinade, but this order of operations ensures your meat is absorbing marinade from all angles.
Lastly, the vacuum tumbler, the Holy Grail of marinating meat.
Vacuum tumblers do the same thing as a vacuum sealed containers, but they spin in place horizontally and continuously such the air out of the spinning container. They are much more expensive, costing hundreds if not thousands of dollars, and are really meant only for large-scale production. However, they provide a couple of benefits: marinating takes less than an hour, consistently higher and more consistent (that’s still good English I believe) marinade absorption rates, and lower marinade to meat ratios.
So there you go folks. As you start jerking yourself, you have many marinating options at your disposal. You’ll generally know when you’re ready for the next step and hopefully one day, maybe far in the future, you’ll be purchasing your own vacuum tumbler to feed a family of 100.