Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom

Beef Jerky

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  • very lean flank steak, partially
  • teriyaki sauce
  1. Cut steak into thin strips, 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide.
  2. Dip the strips in teriyaki sauce.
  3. Dry the strips, using one of the following methods:


  1. Arrange the seasoned strips in a single layer on wire racks.
    Place a piece of aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven to
    catch drippings.
  2. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees F., and then turn the heat
    back to 120 degrees F.
  3. Place the meat in the oven, leaving the oven door open at the
    first stop.
  4. After five or six hours, turn the strips over.
  5. Continue drying at the same temperature for four hours more.
  6. Jerky is ready when it is shriveled and black. When cooled,
    the jerky should be brittle.


  1. Arrange the seasoned strips flat and close together on a
    microwave-safe bacon rack. Cover with waxed paper.
  2. Microwave at medium low.
  3. Turn the strips over, placing the drier strips in the center of
    the rack.
  4. Rotate the rack 1/2 turn, and continue microwaving at medium
    low for 21 minutes, until the strips are dry but slightly pliable.
  5. Remove to the paper towels
  6. Repeat with remaining strips.
  7. Cover the strips with paper towels, and let them stand for 24

Storage: Wrap the sticks of jerky in plastic wrap, and put them
in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator or


  1. Students use food scales to weigh the beef before and after drying.
  2. Students guess (or estimate) what the weight difference will be after drying. 
  3. Students compare weights before and after drying.

P.A.S.S. Math—Grade 3: 3.1; 4.2; Grade 4: 4.1; Grade 5: 4.1

Drying was a major technique used by early American colonists to preserve apples, peaches, pears and apricots; some vegetables; meat and fish. Nets woven of hair were used to support the fruit or fish and allow good air circulation. The food had to be turned frequently and protected from insects, bird droppings and blowing dirt. The tribes of the American Great Plains developed their own method for drying bison meat so they would have a safe food supply through the long periods between hunting seasons. After eating their fill of the fresh bison meat, the Indians would take the remaining meat and make pemmican. They would slice the meat thin and hang it on scaffolds. They hung streamers along with the meat, so they would blow in the wind and keep wolves away. Once the meat was dry they pounded it and placed it in buffalo rawhide bags about the size of a pillow case. Sometimes they added dried berries for flavor. The sugar from the berries also helped with preservation. They poured hot melted marrow in so that it surrounded each particle of meat. Then they sewed the bag shut. Before the contents became hard from cooling, they walked on it to flatten it. A single sack weighed close to 90 pounds and could be placed across small logs or rocks to keep them off the damp.

Related OAITC lessons online: Food for Keeps, Hit the Trail, At Home on the Range

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Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom

Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom is a program of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the Oklahoma State Department of Education