Box Fan Jerky

Picture of Box Fan Jerky
Make beef jerky (or any kind of jerky really) with a box fan, 3 AC filters, some steak, and some time..

I'm writing this as I'm doing it, so i dont have a finished product yet, but I've seen it done online so i dont have any doubts it will work.

Shopping list:

20" Box Fan
3 20" Cotton Based AC filters
2 24" Bungee Chords
Teriyaki Sauce
Soy Sauce
Natures Seasoning
Garlic Salt
1lb Thin sliced Beef Top Round
1lb Beef stir fry
Optional** Meat Cure
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Step 1: Buy the meat, fan, and AC filters

Picture of Buy the meat, fan, and AC filters
Pretty self explanitory here. Buy yourself some meat and a box fan if you dont already have one. Mine broke so i had to go buy a new one anyway. My box fan is a 20" box fan, which happens to coincide perfectly with the 20X20 AC filters that Wal Mart sells for 1.47 each. I bought 3. That's all you should need really.

For the meat, i bought 2 kinds. I've never done this so i wanted to test 2 different kinds of meats.

the first kind of meat that i bought was boneless stir fry beef. I figured it was thinl enough and precut into bite size pieces so why not.

The second kind of steak i bought was boneless top round that was think sliced. Again, convenience of being thinly sliced already. You dont want anything too thick because it wont dry out fast enough.

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Why use air filters? Some wire screening and a bit of wood and nails and you can have something washable and reusable. Just a thought.

flper1 year ago
so do you draw the air through the meat or blow it through the meat..
ironsmiter flper7 months ago

the general consensus would be blow it through. You COULD suck it through, but that would require adding a layer of tape around the circumference of the filter/fan assembly. to prevent dust and debris getting sucked in between the filters.

by blowing it through the filters, you get a positive pressure in between the filters. this will blow OUT any debris that tries getting in (dust, doghair, bugs, etc.)

jbaily1 year ago
When you peeled it off wouldnt there be bits of cotton? (not that its a real problem to me)
See, my problem with the Alton Brown method is that he lied. He claimed you could get the needed filters for about 99 cents each. Wrong! I couldn't find the correct size filter and material for anything close to 99 cents anywhere on this planet. So I bought the cheapest appropriate filters I could find. They were still expensive, so there was no way in Hell I was ditching them after one batch. So I needed to modify the plan. I went to Home Depot and purchased a roll of fiberglass screen. Like you'd put on a screen door. I think I got a roll of 80 X 36 inch screen for about 6 bucks. I Then cut the screen into 18 x 18 inch squares, which perfectly fit in the inside border of my 20 x 20 inch filters. I can wash these in the sink with soap and water, and reuse them over and over. This way, my filters are protected from meat juice and marinade getting on them. I've made at least 6 batches so far, and the filters are still quite clean. So anyway, the layering I use is: Fan > filter > screen > meat > screen > filter > screen > meat > screen > filter > screen > meat > screen > filter. Air flows through, juices keep off the filters, and insects can't get inside the rig. Also, I don't stand the fan upright. I take 2 chairs and set the fan on it's side across the gap between them. I cut my meat probably 6mm thick, because like others, I found meat cut too thin to be way too wafer-like. I like my jerky thick enough to really chew. I usually end up drying it for darn near 24 hours, but it's worth getting jerky that's dry all the way through, but not overly tough. It's really quite excellent. Plus the screen imprints a nice little waffle pattern on the jerky. I like that.
Well,about the cost thing, remember this show ran from 1999 to 2012, and prices could've vastly changed. But the fiberglass mesh idea sounds neat!
 I'm really interested in the screen method you speak of, but I don't understand how the thin screen protects the filters.  Any chance you should share some photos?  Thanks!
ikarias8 years ago
Ok. it looks like a clean and simple DIY, But... Maybe i'm stupid because i'm from the netherlands, but WTF if Jerky? I'm guessing its dryed meat, but shouldnt it be smeked or something? Hope i dont offend anyone with this reply.
You shouldn't smoke it for your fist taste, but once you do taste it, try smoking the meat beforehand and see what happens. Also, you can't describe jerky, you just have to taste it.

One probably could place a smoking pot in front of the fan with some wet wood chips.  Maybe one of those heavy iron smoke chip gizmos with a slotted lid set on a hot plate on a low/smoulder setting.  If you keep the smoke far enough away so that the fan does not draw against the chips and fan them to flame that should work.  Might have to "shield" it from side drafts and funnel it towards the fan.
Chrystalkay3 years ago
I know instructions always say to cut WITH the grain of the meat, but that is always too tough for me. I slice across the grain and have super tender jerky. Only problen is that it will break more easily, but who cares? It breaks up just fine in my mouth and THAT I care about!
schnurrbart5 years ago
I tried this today.  It dried the jerky for 12 hours and put it inthe oven for a few minutes just for good measure.  I tried a smallpiece, and while it tastes good, the inside seems to still be a littlemoist, unlike jerky you'd find in a store.  Does anyone think thismay be unsafe?  I'm gonna let it sit overnight and re-evaluate, butI'd really appreciate any advice about if I need to continue drying itmore tomorrow.  Thanks
jtb1035 years ago
Alton brown from the food network did this once
Arkayanon6 years ago
I've also done this with some deer meat my brother gave me from a hunting trip of his. Passed it around to a couple of friends and got good responses from all. Even after I explained that it wasn't "cooked" but simply dried. The people I worked with at Lowe's thought the use of filters was interesting.
......ha ha ha.....I can imagine the weird look you would get from someone if you asked specifically for "cotton filters" and then told them you were going to make jerky with them....
You can use cheese cloth much better to keep it off the filter. Used in the kitchen all the time. As for the bacteria mas9779 is correct, the marinade is going to have the acidity to kill most of the bacteria I would throw a couple squeezes of lime in for good measure. It will not hurt to throw it in the oven on 165 for a couple minutes when it is done I dont know why guy is saying 250 all you need is 165 to kill bacteria. I have seen people in south carolina put meat in mason jars and let them sit for months out in the sun in marinade and then let it dry out like jerky. Americans are so over protective of what they "think" is not safe to eat. In japan they eat chicken rare if it is fresh, I have been thinking about getting a fresh chicken from the farm to try this. Are there any rules on instructables about cleaning animals for consumption? Another thing I have been wanting to try for years is cooking with pressure. You can cook a whole side of salmon or tuna just by placing bricks on top. With enough pressure and weight it could be cooked well done, but who wants well done tuna?
Phocian6 years ago
I make about 50 net lbs. of jerky per year. In winter I use a smoker made of bricks and cinder blocks. In summer I use a box fan to draw the smoke over the meat from a small fire. My jerky will keep for more than a year. Wood smoke is a natural preservative. I recall an anthropologist finding pemmican (ground-up jerky mixed with rendered fat) in a cave in France, he speculated the pemmican was about 150 years old and was still edible. If the moisture content of jerky is less than about 80% (I think) it will last forever stored in an air-tight container in a cool place. Wood smoke, thinly sliced meat and a warm heat--as opposed to "hot" heat--will make long-lasting jerky.
EviLNinJa7 years ago
you are better off doing this in the oven on a mesh rack at 170 degrees F also either way you make it it is a good idea to pasteurize the jerky by putting in the oven after its done at 250 F for 12 mins to kill any remaining bacteria and melt off any left over fat.
no then you are cooking the meat not making jerky. That low heat toughens the finished product.
No. food dehydrators and smokers run at around 170 unless you have a nice one that lets you choose the temp.. So using a oven at a low temp do the same job as a dehydrator.
the idea of this is he doesn't want to use a dehydrator or smoker because he doesn't want to cook it you marinate in an acidic bath to kill the bacteria thats why you don't cook it
ksparks mas97796 years ago
I have a box fan, but I can't find the cheap paper filters. I'm not going to use them more than once, so I'm not willing to spend $5 a filter.

The deal with commercial dehydrators (this info courtesy of Alton Brown) is that they HAVE to go to 170, because they don't have the air flow capability to dry the items. Dry is about air flow, not heat. Hence the utility of this setup.

Specialization is for insects
inspector7 years ago
chris.brent8 years ago
Oh dear you should have finished making in months ago! Did it not go wel!!!
mr2monster (author)  chris.brent8 years ago
Actually it went quite well. It tasted great and I've made about 6 batches since then... I'm actually going to be making a bunch of it to put together in gift baskets for christmas this year because everyone liked it so much. I jut forgot to update this instructable.
timewaster8 years ago
I did this after watching the Alton Brown show. Worked great. I made wood frames with aluminem screen wire That I placed the meat on. Used one filter between fan and meat. Who wants dirty jerky. Used the recipe found on DIY website.
DanAdamKOF8 years ago
Ah cool! I freaking love jerky. That reminds me, TimAnderson was doing a similar project with hot dogs, did he ever post the results?
The results are in! His hot dog jerky was terrible:

His dried watermelon was much better.
neopirater8 years ago
Do the filters do anything to the meat that would harm it? Such as leave any kind of particle?
mr2monster (author)  neopirater8 years ago
No, that's why i made sure to say to use cotton ones instead of fiberglass. It pretty much peels off the meat when you gather it all, and if there is any left on your jerkey, it's easy to remove.
not as far as I know... its pretty much a paper/fiber product -- I'd just avoid the edges as the mfr of the filter might have some glue overspray which is probably a non-issue anyway :P
Bryan8 years ago
For another diy version of this device and a forum of "jerky" people discussing "jerky things" - try out
SmartAZ8 years ago
BTW I think I would find some nylon to keep the meat from touching the filter.
SmartAZ8 years ago
Since you are not using a preservative, plan on eating your jerky shortly after it's made. (Most people can eat it faster than they can make it anyway.) It will keep as long as 6 months in vacuum, but only use mylar food bags or glass bottles, not sandwich bags. The limit is about 6 to 8 months.
Randy_che8 years ago
Additions I would make to the marinade: Couple tablespoons brown sugar 1 teaspoon liquid smoke The meat cure I use is called Lem Cure, but Mortons has a curing salt too. They are pink, and made of sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite, also with regular salt and some other ingredients. You only use a little meat curing salt in the batch. Like a half teasoppon for a couple of pounds. I've made jerky plenty of times without it, and it always seems to be safe. Doesn't last long enough to worry about. I also like to add some chili garlic paste to the marinade or sprinkle liberally with fresh ground black pepper or chile flakes after placing on the racks. It sticks really well to the damp marinade, and stays on when dry.
sodium nitrate and nitrite is nasty stuff
1. Not when only present in low concentrations. 2. You probably eat some every day and don't know it. 3. I'd rather eat a miniscule amount of sodium nitrate or nitrite than get botulism.
I wouldn't worry about botulism... unless you plan on storing for 6 years before consumption :P I've made plenty of this stuff (similar method) without issue ;)
CatMan8 years ago
so why don't you GIVE credit to Mr. Brown in your text?i don't see any reason why you shouldn't. i DO see several reasons why you SHOULD...
CamTron8 years ago
I think I spend about 30 dollars a month on jerky. This is the most simple yet invaluable instructable yet.
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