Brines can add interesting flavors to your jerky, the only downside being that the longer you marinade, the more moist the beef becomes, therefore taking longer to dry. Freeze the beef first to make it easier to slice it thinly into layers and ensure the layers are completely covered in brine while they are marinating.
This brine will give the jerky a very strong taste as it needs to marinate overnight to properly penetrate the meat. Use only if you like your jerky intensely flavored. Use curing salt (as opposed to table salt, which can turn the beef a funny color), molasses, black pepper, liquid garlic or garlic puree, and water. Mix these ingredients together and marinate the beef for eight to 10 hours or overnight before drying in the oven.
This is the most commonly used type of brine. It gives the meat a spicy, yet slightly sweet, taste and has the added benefit of suiting beef as well as chicken, venison and turkey. The brine requires soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Rather than marinate overnight, dip the meat into it as it boils for a couple of minutes before taking out again and placing in the dryer or oven.
For an Oriental take on beef jerky, use the same ingredients as for the standard brine plus teriyaki sauce and molasses. For extra spice, you can crush black peppercorns and add them to the brine. Marinate the meat in the refrigerator for a few hours to a couple of days, depending on how strong a flavor you require, if leaving for longer than four or five hours, give the liquid a stir and turn over the beef every so often.
If you want to try something different, add ground ginger, cayenne pepper and pineapple juice to the ingredients for a Hawaiian brine. Cover the beef and refrigerate for six to 12 hours for it to marinate before drying. The resulting jerky will have a mildly sweet flavor with a hint of spice.
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