With or against the grain? How to cut beef to make soft or chewy jerky.

Dejan Stojanovic wrote “To go against the grain is the secret of bravery”, but when it comes to making deliciously tender beef jerky, it’s a not so secret fact that boils down to your personal jerky preferences and which way you cut your meat.

To start with, do you prefer a tougher, chewier experience or a tender, softer snack? Whichever you prefer, the way you cut your meat is the simplest way to achieve your preference; the question now is how?

It starts with the ‘grain,’ which refers to the muscle fibers that make up the cut of meat and the direction they run. If you cut your slices in the direction of the fibers you are cutting WITH the grain. If you cut perpendicular or across these fibers you are cutting AGAINST the grain... but why does the direction of the cut affect the resulting jerky so much?

Cutting against the grain creates slices made up of tiny tubes of each fiber resulting in jerky that breaks up easily and is softer and easier to chew.

Cutting with the grain creates slices made up of longer, vertical pieces of connected fiber, which results in chewier pieces of meat, as you are chewing multiple, longer lengths of meat fibers.

Ultimately it comes back to what you prefer from your jerky. At Empire Jerky our vision has been to redefine jerky and produce Australia’s first truly gourmet beef jerky, that is tender and full of flavor. Cutting our beef jerky against the grain is just one aspect of how we’ve been able to achieve that, and how you can replicate similar results from home cooked jerky too.

Jay Jay
Brisbane based jerky lover, marketer and fan of almost all sports.

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