Homemade Beef Jerky

The Whole Hiker's Handbook - William Kemsley, Jr. 1979
The Whole Hiker’s Handbook – William Kemsley, Jr. 1979

What could be finer for a Spring day hike than a Zip-Lock bag full of homemade beef jerky goodness?

There are no doubt more complicated and involved ways to make it and some of the jerky connoisseurs may frown upon this method, but it was super simple, delicious and was made without a dehydrator. I found the recipe in “The Whole Hikers Handbook – The Definitive Sourcebook Featuring The Best Of Backpacker Magazine” published in 1979 by William Kemsley, Jr.

Jerky Preparation
Jerky Preparation

Jerky is very popular, though I hardly ever take it. If I do, it is not the commercially prepared type. I like the homemade variety. Here’s a recipe for it.

Beef Jerky

  • ½ lbs. beef (flank or round)
  • 1 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • ½ cupWorcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup soy sauce

Remove all fat from meat. Cut into ¼” slices along the grain. It is easier to slice if partially frozen.

Combine dry and liquid ingredient to make marinade. Marinate meat overnight in refrigerator. Drain. Lay meat strips on over rack and place foil on bottom rack to catch drippings. Leave door ajar. Set oven at 150˚F. Dry meat for 6 hours. Turn oven off and leave meat in oven for another 6 hours.

Store Jerky in covered container with holes punched in lid. Makes one pound.

Finished Jerky
Finished Jerky

As my first foray into the world of dried meat I can claim this as a success; it was meaty and tasted of beef, not teriyaki or cracked pepper, which I liked a lot. It was a little heavy on the sodium so some fine tuning will be in order, but I’ll be making it again for sure – in time for some Summer hiking perhaps. If you give it a try I’d love to hear about your results or any alternative recipes you have. Happy Spring, FINALLY!

Tea Chronicles Pt.13 – Jordanian Tea

Jordanian Tea - Dana Reserve
Jordanian Tea – Dana Reserve

Like many places in the Arab world, tea and coffee are Jordan’s social lubricants of choice, and while their tea has many variants it is nearly always served strong and black in small glass tumblers, sweetened with sugar and with some kind of herb or spice for flavoring. This recipe comes from our guide, Salim, at the Dana Reserve in south-central Jordan. He was a quiet, thoughtful man who had quit the military life to pursue a career as an artist and guide. His family had lived in the area for many generations and he knew every inch of the expansive reserve – he cherished his special part of the world and was eager to share it and his knowledge of it with others from around the world.

Jordanian Tea - Dana Reserve
Jordanian Tea – Dana Reserve

Half way through our hike, Salim took us to his ‘coffee shop’ – a protected shelf in a mountain, overlooking a deep valley, and instructed us on the art of Jordanian tea.

Firstly the water has to be warmed over an open fire as the wood smoke adds important flavor to the tea. I’m not sure if the wood type is important but in this area there were pistachio trees; tiny, squat oak trees; and juniper trees.

The kettle he used to boil the water held about a litre and was put directly on the fire.

Once the water had begun to heat, Salim added a palmful of cinnamon bark and white sugar. Jordanians like very sweet tea, and while the sugar is an important ingredient, I don’t have that much of a sweet tooth. As a compromise, Salim added about 4 tablespoons to the kettle.

Jordanian Tea - Dana Reserve
Jordanian Tea – Dana Reserve

Once the water came to a boil two teabags were added. The tea he used was called Alghazaleen Tea but Salim also said Lipton Yellow Label was acceptable.

The kettle stayed on the fire for a little longer until it came to a solid boil and was then set aside to steep for a few more minutes.

Salim served it in small glass tumblers and we drank it as soon as we could, the hotter the better.

Jordanian Tea - Dana Reserve
Jordanian Tea – Dana Reserve

Traditionally, when it comes to tea I am strictly a milk and no sugar man, but there was something magic in the marriage of these flavors; the bitter tannic tea, the rich earthy tang of the cinnamon and the sweetness of the sugar. It was unexpectedly harmonious and worked perfectly.

I  have drunk countless cups of tea in my life but this was one of the most memorable. The planets aligned with the stunning scenery, the great company and this delicious, freshly brewed elixir.

VHD Year in Review

Last Hike - A couple of days on the Cleveland Way
Last Hike of the Year – A couple of days on the Cleveland Way

So that was 2013. Certainly a huge year for me personally and another big year for the Vintage Hiking Depot. I became an uncle, I got married, I learned to fly fish and tie flies, started Geocaching in a big way and I stayed in a yurt. I reached my 100th post, the VHD poster collection finally came to life (I even displayed them as part of a local art walk) and through the VHD I’ve been introduced to many great people and learnt so much.

While I feel I’ve fit a lot in this year there is definitely much more to come. As far as resolutions go it’s pretty much identical to every other year; get out more, read more, write more, try more new things and most of all have fun. A very happy New Year to everyone, thank you all for reading and contributing to this blog, here’s to 2014.