Is Beef Jerky Gluten Free?

Gluten free beef jerky is hard to guarantee when you buy it in the store. This is interesting both for people on sodium- and gluten-free diets, because chemical nitrates, soy, wheat and gluten are popularly used to preserve conventional meat products, like jerky.

Some varieties, often dubbed as natural beef jerky, can contain questionable ingredients. You can find raw meat and jerky brands that contain alternative forms of sodium nitrate, which also use this label.

One advantage of making beef jerky at home, is that you have control over ingredients. We’re going to show you how to make a gluten free beef jerky, as well as a few other recipes that you might find helpful for your health!

Gluten free beef jerky recipe

  • 2 lbs. beef roast
  • ½ cup brown sugar, honey or maple syrup
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. each onion powder, garlic powder and black pepper

Cut the beef roast into 1/8”- thick strips. Cut away and remove as much fat as possible, in order to keep it from going rancid after a week of storage.

Combine the remaining ingredients, and mix them in a bowl. Add enough water to make it viscous enough for a marinade. Seal the meat and marinade in a closed container and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.

Set your jerky maker to 165 degrees. Place the marinated strips of meat on the dehydrating trays, leaving space between each, and dry for about 5 hours. Once the beef jerky has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, it’s fully cooked and ready to eat!

This recipe is very simple, and doubles as a sugar free jerky. You can easily make a gluten free turkey jerky by using the exact same processes and ingredients, as well.

Nitrate free beef jerky

Another harsh reality about conventional beef jerky is that it contains high amounts of sodium nitrates. When commercial meat is first butchered, it’s cured with salt and sodium nitrate to prevent the growth of bacteria, which occurs even in refrigerated environments.

When the beef jerky brands then use this meat, they add more preservative properties. This is what allows them to store their beef jerky unrefrigerated on the shelf for over a year without spoiling.

You can make your own jerky without sugar, nitrates, gluten or chemical preservatives. However, remember that bacteria grows in moist, warm environments and any amount will affect the lifespan of homemade beef jerky. Other factors include oxidation and fat content.

Sodium nitrate is also used to tenderize and flavor beef jerky. Because it’s naturally dry and tough, we recommend cutting your meat against the grain, to break down its muscle fibers. You can also use a meat tenderizing mallet and acidic ingredients to further soften the jerky that you make at home.

Reducing the moisture content of your meat by 90-95% will increase its shelf life. You can also use a vacuum sealer and oxygen absorbers to prevent oxidation.

Most of the time, beef jerky doesn’t last long enough to worry about shelf life. You get all of the benefit by making it at home, however we also recommend making large batches that last up to a month, in order to get more of your time and money’s worth. In this case, you’re perfectly safe storing it in the refrigerator.

Gluten free beef broth

Dehydrated food is a perfect example of long-term storage without gluten contamination. Beef bouillon, which is dried beef broth, has 95% of its moisture reduced, meaning that it’ll store for a long time without the use of suspicious preservatives.

It’s also a great way to avoid overexposure to low-quality sodium products, like MSG and sodium nitrate. Simply pour your homemade beef broth into solid dehydrating trays, and virtually press ‘play’.

Set your countertop dehydrator to 135 degrees, and let it run for about 8 hours. Once the recipe has become dry and brittle, it’s ready to store in whole, solid form. You can then take out a piece at a time, blend it in your food process for 30 seconds, and have delicious beef broth powder on demand.

A meat dehydrator is a terrific way to beat the system and enjoy better quality for your health!



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