Jerky is a favorite among many people and has been for a very long time. The FDA, however, has somewhat ruined jerky with their regulations, requiring that meat be heated up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, or “well-done,” before it can be sold as jerky. Many people may not know the difference, but some of us do. Wouldn’t it be great to make your own jerky, without those pesky FDA regulations? Well, here’s how you can, and the best part is it’s cheap.
What You Need
For this DIY jerky maker, the build is relatively simple and so are the components that go into the design. You’ll need:
- A square cardboard box with 12-inch dimensions
- ½-inch PVC pipe cut in two 15-inch pieces
- Wooden meat skewers
- A 100-watt incandescent light bulb and fixture, or you can use a metal work light
- A cookie sheet large enough to fit the bottom of the box in
- A knife
- A ruler
- A marker
- The meat you’re turning into jerky
All of the above are available at your local stores, making them easily accessible for most people. These items are also inexpensive.
How to Make a DIY Jerky Maker
Begin by setting the unassembled box flat on a table, orienting it so that the flaps are at the bottom and top. Next, use your marker and ruler to draw a line across the box 2 inches from the bottom. Then, from each edge of every bottom flap, measure 3 inches in and draw a vertical line. This should split each flap into three parts.
Your next step is to cut out the center section of each flap. To avoid having to flip the box over and draw more lines, you can use one side as a cutting guide for the other. Next, moving to the top side, draw a line 2 inches below where the flaps fold.
Assemble as if you were creating a regular box — top closed, bottom open — and hold it in shape for the next steps. Using 2-inch heavy-duty packaging tape cut in 8-inch lengths, tape together each of the four cut flaps, which will act as legs for the jerky maker. Wrap strips of tape around the legs to reinforce them.
Your next step will be to take one of the PVC pieces and mark it as close to the edge of the box as possible under the line that you drew 2 inches from the top. This step will need to be done four times: twice on one side and twice on the side directly opposite. Cut the circles out, being sure to stay within the lines to ensure a snug fit. When you’re done, you should have four holes cut out of the box.
Take the two 15-inch PVC pieces and push them through the holes, ensuring there is an equal amount sticking out on each side. These PVC pieces will be what hold the wooden skewers.
Draw a 4-inch circle in the center of the closed top. Cut the circle out of the two top flaps exactly how you have it drawn. Repeat this process with the remaining two flaps. The end result will be a completed construction of the box.
Finishing the Project
Now, it’s time to add in your low-temperature heat source, a 100-watt incandescent lightbulb. Finishing the project is actually very simple: Take your heat source and place it on the cookie sheet. Next, place your box over the light, keeping it on the cookie sheet; you can feed the wire through one of the vents at the bottom of the assembly.
You can now skewer your meat and hang it between the two pieces of PVC pipe. Make sure that your meat isn’t touching; it’s best to have the heat completely surround each piece of meat to ensure it dries thoroughly. You can dry at least eight pounds of meat using this dryer. It will take about 48-72 hours for the meat to completely dry. To cut the drying time down, use thinner pieces of meat or simply put less meat in the dryer.
Do-it-yourself projects are fun and can be vastly cheaper than buying pre-made items. Surely the price of jerky you find in the store is no match for the jerky you’ll be able to make at home. If you find yourself to be quite handy and wanting another DIY project to cut down on costs, check out this DIY storage rack for your prepper pantry.
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