Kombucha-fermented Beef Jerky

After making kombucha for a while, everyone has that one jar that ferments just a bit too long and makes vinegar. Kombucha vinegar has many of the same properties that apple cider vinegar has. It is slightly sweet, raw and full of helpful probiotics. One of my new favorite uses of kombucha vinegar is in the making of fermented beef jerky.

Vinegar is used as a meat tenderizer in the standard jerky recipe. However, when using kombucha vinegar you get the added benefit of the probiotics being able to ferment the meat while it is in the marinade. Jerky is a raw meat product, which is preserved by a combination of the spices, probiotics and thorough drying. All three preservation aspects combine to give an amazingly tasty and enzyme-rich jerky.

How to Make Fermented Beef Jerky


• Beef or other lean and inexpensive meat: You will need to trim off all fat, so try to get fairly lean meat when you plan to turn it into jerky. Beef is not the only meat option; turkey, goat, lamb, or whatever lean meat you have on hand, can be substituted in.

• Kombucha Marinade:

  • 1/2 cup wine
  • 1 1/2 cup kombucha vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sea salt, or other fine grind salt
  • 1 head minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. whole mustard seed, lightly cracked
  • 1 tbsp. liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp. oregano and 1 tsp. basil. You can substitute these 2 tsp. spices for whatever you have on hand, or whatever flavors you prefer.


If you are starting with a fresh roast, put it in the freezer to chill while you prepare the marinade. If you are working with a frozen roast, pull it out to thaw about three hours before you start preparing the marinade.

Mix all marinade ingredients together in a glass dish. Add the sugar to the kombucha and wine, before beginning to add the spices, to make sure that it fully dissolves. Spices can be added in any order. Stir everything together to make sure it is well blended.

Take your beef roast out of the freezer. Using a sharp knife, slice off all visible fat and, if there is any nerve sheathing, as much of that as you can. Fat and nerve sheathing will retard drying, and the fat will go rancid with exposure to air which will lessen the storage life of your jerky.

Once the meat is trimmed, slice it into thin, 1/4-inch slices with the grain of the meat. After slicing, place the meat slices in your marinade. They should be fully covered with marinade.

Cover your marinating meat slices, and place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. This gives time for the marinade to fully permeate the meat, and for the kombucha bacteria to help get rid of any unwanted bacteria in the meat.

After 12 hours, place the marinated meat on dehydrator trays and dry at 155F until fully dry and crisp. This can take up to 16 hours for thicker slices. Flip the slices, and turn your dehydrator trays (if your dehydrator design requires it) at least once every four hours during the dry time to insure even drying.

If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can dry in your oven on the lowest setting. Dry the meat on metal racks, over a baking tray, and turn frequently. If your oven won’t go down to 155F, then prop the oven door open with a wooden handled spoon to insure that it doesn’t cook the meat instead of drying it.

Once the jerky is fully dry, let it cool and store it in glass jars or other relatively air-tight glass containers. It is not recommended to store jerky in plastic bags, except for short-term, will-be-eaten soon storage.

Jerky is a handy trail food, and an easy way to preserve meat for later consumption. Beef jerky is an excellent addition in homemade dry soup mixes for a protein boosted convenience food, or eaten simply as-is as a raw protein and probiotic boost.


Sarah Dalziel is passionate about DiY skills, knowledge, and self-sufficiency. She was homeschooled K-BSc, and enjoys questioning, researching, and writing about hands on skills and preparedness. Ethnobotany, natural dyes, and self-sufficiency fascinate her. If she isn’t writing about them, you’ll find her dipping yarn into a steaming dye pot, or stirring up a batch of woad pigmented soap. Sarah blogs at wearingwoad.com, a natural dye and fiber skills blog, and also at sarahdalzielmedia.com, an interdisciplinary skills and writing blog.

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