Is beef jerky making complicated? Are there a lot of steps? Is making jerky simple? Is it called jerking? How do you make beef jerky at People's Choice Beef Jerky?

The process of making beef jerky is both simple and complicated at the same time. Confused? Let me explain. When broken down into its most basic steps, the process of making beef jerky is very simple. The nuances and techniques within these steps, however, is where things can get complicated. 

I could spend days explaining the nuances of the different techniques and styles, but I'll save you from that rabbit hole of information and walk you through how we handcraft artisanal jerky at People's Choice Beef Jerky. We've found that the secret to the best beef jerky is a simple, handmade process. 

We are LA's Original Beef Jerky. We've been handcrafting natural, old-fashioned beef jerky for over 89 years and four generations. I learned from my father who learned from his father and I'm now passing on the tradition to my son and daughter. All of our jerky is handcrafted at our jerky factory in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. 

The good news is that beef jerky, in its truest form, is very simple. It's seasoned and dried meat— nothing more, nothing less. Some producers overcomplicate and over-process beef jerky, but at People's Choice Beef Jerky, we are dedicated to honoring our family tradition of honest, straightforward, and simple beef jerky.    

There are five steps of the jerky making process at People's Choice Beef Jerky: slicing, marinating, laying, cooking, and packaging.  

Slicing 

The first step in the beef jerky making process is slicing. We take whole muscle pieces of lean beef and trim them by hand. We believe in using 100% American beef, sourced right here in the USA. We never use imported or frozen beef.   

We believe in quality. At the end of the day, premium raw ingredients directly translate into better quality end products. Each piece of meat is cleaned of any excess fat to make sure it meets our high-quality standards. Once the beef is properly prepped, we utilize a slicing machine to create thin strips of perfectly sized jerky strips. The slicing machine guarantees relative consistency in thickness across the pieces of jerky. Each piece is carefully inspected to make sure it meets our high standards. The key aspect of the slicing step is to get consistent thickness to ensure even cooking. Otherwise, some pieces will come out overcooked and others undercooked.  

Marinating 

The second step in the beef jerky making process is marinating. A combination of dry spices and liquid ingredients are mixed with the sliced meat. A sufficient amount of time needs to be allocated to make sure that the marinade not only covers the meat, but also penetrates into the fibers of the meat. There is an unlimited amount of flavor combinations that you can use from simple jerky to gourmet jerky. The process of marinating beef jerky is very similar to marinating your favorite meats in the home kitchen.  

As a general rule of thumb, the longer time allowed for marinating, the deeper and more nuanced the level of flavor. There's definitely a point of diminishing returns when it comes to time, but we recommend a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 24 hours. At People's Choice Beef jerky, we give the meat and marinades ample time to fully integrate and mix before the cooking step. Extended marination time not only improves flavor, but also can increase the tenderness of the meat by breaking down the fibers of the meat.    

Laying 

The third step in the beef jerky making process is laying the jerky onto stainless steel screens. Each individual piece of sliced and marinated jerky is laid by hand. This is a critical step as the pieces must be evenly spaced and gently dropped onto the screens to ensure that the full batch of jerky cooks evenly. There's no shortcuts or tricks when it comes to the laying step. The best and quickest way to complete this step is by hand. 

The good news is that we have some of the most experienced and talented workers here at People's Choice Beef Jerky. In fact, some of our employees have been with us for over 25 years.  These are true jerky artisans. For us, beef jerky making is not just a profession, but a way of life.  

Cooking 

The fourth step in the beef jerky making process is cooking. Low and slow is the secret to deliciously-tender beef jerky. Depending on the thickness of the meat, we cook our jerky from 2.5 to 5 hours. Temperatures during the cook cycle average between 165° to 185° F. This range of temperature ensures that the beef jerky is fully cooked. During this cooking process, the humidity level within the oven remains constant. The consistent level of low humidity combined with the hot temperature creates a shelf-stable beef jerky that requires no refrigeration. The jerky is ready for the final step before the snacking can begin.  

Packaging 

The fifth and final step in the beef jerky making process is packaging. Once the jerky is fully cooked and dehydrated, it is ready for packaging. We use a full range of packaging types from bulk boxes destined for butcher shops and meat markets to individually-wrapped, single-serving packages perfect for on-the-go snackers. 

And...that's it! Jerky making in five easy steps.  

So to review, there are five simple steps of the beef jerky making process: slicing, marinating, laying, cooking, and packaging. And that's it. As you can see, when done properly, the beef jerky making process is very simple.  

We take great pride in our process. It is testament to our tradition. We have purposely retained the handmade element in each step of our process. It is our way of preserving tradition, remembering our history, and ensuring the highest quality product. Simply put, things are better done by hand.  

In our humble opinion, beef jerky is best made by hand. This allows for a greater attention to detail. This attention to detail translates into better-quality, better-tasting, and better-for-you jerky. We like to think a little time and energy and handmade touch makes for the best jerky. 

Mark 

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Mark Bianchetti is a third generation jerky maker at People’s Choice Beef Jerky.  He followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather to carry on the family tradition of handcrafting premium meat snacks. When he’s not running the show at the Downtown LA jerky factory, he’s smoking delicious meats in the backyard with his favorite family member, Ellie (the family’s black Labrador). 

Have a question for a jerky master? Have a burning question that you’ve always wanted to know? Here’s your chance. Find us On Social Media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) or email us (info@peopleschoicebeefjerky.com).