There are a number of things that you learn over time, some of which can make things much easier. Here is a list of some helpful tips learned from experience –
Use FRESH ginger root if your recipe calls for it - This is one of the single largest impacts you can make to the flavor of your beef jerky - Ginger root is available in most major supermarkets - The easiest way to peel ginger root is to scrape the skin off using the edge of a spoon - A mini-chopper comes in handy for mincing this but a knife works if you don't have one Mix up the marinade first - For small batches consider using re-sealable food storage bags as it makes for easier clean-up
Marinate for at least 24 hours - When adding the sliced beef to the marinade try to insure each piece gets well coated - If using a re-sealable bag to marinate, remove as much air as possible while marinating - Flip/mix the marinating meat to ensure good coverage and absorption - The meat can be marinated in the refrigerator for nearly a week if desired - Generally longer marinade time yields more flavorful beef jerky
Use non-stick cooking spray - Jerky recipes generally have some amount of sugar, meaning they will tend to stick to the drying racks - Spray the racks before laying out the meat - If using a small round dehydrator, spray the drip area (top of dehydrator base)
General note: Clean-up is probably one of the more labor intensive parts of the jerky making process and anything that helps with this is well worth doing.
Flip the jerky part way into the drying process - Do this when the outside edges of the jerky start to appear dry (around an hour) - Do it again when the other side is mostly dry
General note: If you just leave the meat in the dehydrator until it is done you will likely be very aggravated from having to scrape the jerky off the drying racks in small pieces using a spatula. Not fun.
Rotate the racks - For small round dehydrators do this about every hour - Meat will dehydrate quicker on racks closest to the heat source - For small round dehydrators, the bottom racks are closest to the heat source
General note: It is fairly difficult to get the airflow and temp exact across all of the drying racks. As a result some of the meat will be done faster. Rotating the racks evens out the dehydration process.
Keep meat slices a consistent thickness - It’s easier to slice the meat if you put it in the freezer for a couple hours and partially freeze it - Generally you want something around 1/8” thickness - Slices too thin fall apart and/or make it more difficult to handle - Thicker slices are a little less work but don’t absorb the marinade as well, will be a little chewier, and take longer to dehydrate.
Rearrange the meat as needed - It is very difficult to get every single piece of meat the same thickness. As a result, some pieces will be done before others. Remove pieces as they are done and consolidate the ones that aren't till all are done.
Do not over-dehydrate the jerky - When done, the jerky will be very dry to the touch but still somewhat flexible
Store the finished beef jerky in a re-sealable plastic bag - If done correctly, beef jerky can last months without refrigeration
Use a pot and pan scrubbing brush to clean the racks - Run them through the dishwasher first - inspect and scrub off any particles immediately after rack comes out of dishwasher