Jerky is a great snack when you're on the go. It's easy to eat, provides protein and other nutrients, and it's delicious. One of our favorites is turkey jerky, and not just because it's so fun to say. Like beef jerky, turkey jerky is thin, dried and salted cuts of meat.
Turkey jerky is becoming more common in gas stations and grocery stores, but it's still a product that is mainly found in specialty stores. Today, we'll discuss the benefits of turkey jerky and we'll even share a recipe we like to use to make turkey jerky at home.
Is Turkey Jerky Healthy?
When you are busy and you need a snack, it's often tempting to grab a Snickers or some other type of candy bar for some quick nourishment. It may be surprising to learn that jerky is a healthier snack, and it'll give you more energy for longer than any candy bar. Plus, jerky is lower in fat and carbs than a candy bar also.
Jerky can be an excellent option for people who are sticking to a low carb, high protein diet like keto or Atkins. The trick is to find brands of jerky that do not add a ton of sugar, which can be next to impossible when your local store has limited selection. It's better for keto dieters to make their own turkey jerky at home where the amount of carbohydrates can be easily controlled.
Turkey vs Beef, Which One is Healthier
Both types of jerky are a healthier snacking option for most people, but each type has pros and cons. Both beef and turkey jerky are high in protein, with an average 100 gram serving providing 12 grams of protein for beef and 13 grams for turkey. Beef jerky provides twice the iron of turkey (8 g to 4 g), has slightly lower cholesterol (20 mg to 25 mg), and typically has lower sugars and carbohydrates (4 g to 8 g).
By the numbers, beef seems to be the healthier choice, but it's important to remember that these numbers come from commercially prepared jerky. Homemade varieties may be lower in carbs because of differences in recipes, marinades, and seasonings. Either way, jerky is a superior, healthy, protein-packed snack option.
Why is Turkey Jerky so Expensive?
Jerky is an expensive snack, there is no denying that, but why does it cost so much? The reason for the high cost of jerky is due to the process of making jerky. A key part of the process involves removing moisture from the meat, which reduces the size and weight of the meat. That little 8 oz package of turkey jerky may have started out as two pounds of turkey breast before drying. In fact, boneless skinless turkey breast is usually about 75 percent water by weight.
The biggest factor in the cost of turkey jerky is the amount of raw meat necessary to make a package of jerky. You can reduce the cost of jerky by purchasing turkey breast and making jerky at home. Not only does this give you control over the ingredients and flavors, it will save you money.
How Long Does Turkey Jerky Take to Dehydrate?
Another factor that impacts the cost of turkey jerky is the amount of time that it takes to properly dehydrate turkey breast. Most processes will require about four to six hours to completely dehydrate turkey. There are several common methods used to dehydrate meat for jerky, including a special food dehydrator that is designed for making jerky, or you can use the oven which is a classic way to make jerky at home. Our favorite way to make jerky is in our smoker. The thin strips of turkey take on a wonderful flavor and aroma in the smoker, and we are able to fully dehydrate our meat easily.
How to Make Turkey Jerky at Home
We love making jerky at home. It's one of those processes where the whole family gets involved, and it's just a lot of fun. Over the years, we have tried lots of different recipes, and one thing we have learned is that there is no limit to the types of flavor you can get. The recipe we are going to share today is a simple and straight forward way to make turkey jerky at home. You can dress it up with additional flavors, or you can keep it simple.
- 1-2 lbs boneless, skinless turkey breast
- 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce (We prefer San-J Low-Sodium Tamari, as it's also gluten-free)
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 3-4 tablespoons Bearded Butcher Blend Seasoning (We are going to use Chipotle for this recipe)
- First trim any visible fat, skin, or gristle from the turkey breast, then place it in the freezer for half an hour.
- Combine remaining ingredients in a ziplock bag.
- Remove the turkey breast from the freezer and using a very sharp knife, slice into even 1/8" to 1/4" slices. When making turkey jerky, we like to cut with the grain because the meat holds together better. We have made jerky crumbles by accident before by cutting turkey against the grain.
- As you slice the turkey, continue to remove any fat or connective tissue. Once it's all sliced up, put it in the ziplock bag and massage the marinade gently into the meat, then place in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours.
- Preheat your smoker to 180 degrees. If you are using the oven, you can also preheat to the same temperature. If you are using a dehydrator, it's a good practice to start the turkey jerky in the oven until the internal temperature is at 165 degrees, then place in the dehydrator. This step prevents bacterial growth from ruining your jerky.
- Remove the turkey strips from the marinade and discard the marinade. Pat the strips dry with paper towels, then lay the strips directly on the racks. Alternatively, you can use a hanging rack to smoke the jerky.
- Smoke the jerky for about two hours, then test for doneness. The jerky will be ready when it is pliable and dry. Keep checking the jerky every 30 minutes or more as the meat finishes drying.
- Once the turkey jerky is smoked, remove it and place in a bowl or bag to cool.
- Store turkey jerky in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Your jerky will last for several weeks, and may last even longer if you can stop yourself from eating it all.
Turkey jerky is an excellent snack option for health-conscious buyers that is high in protein, low in fat, and it makes an excellent, portable snack. Jerky is great because you can put it in a ziplock in your backpack or in your glove box and it'll be good to eat for weeks. We particularly love making jerky ourselves because it's such a fun and easy process. If you haven't thought about making jerky at home, you should give it a try. You'll find that it's an affordable way to make great tasting and healthy snacks your family will love.
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