The Art of Jerky: A Dried Meat Guide
Jerky is more than just a tasty snack, it’s a delicacy that dates back centuries and encompasses many different types of dried meat. From beef jerky to turkey, chicken, and even elk, there are many ways to enjoy this treat. Whether you want to make them yourself for snacks or take them with you on your next trip, jerky is one of the most versatile foods.
This article will explore the varieties of jerky available and discover ways to craft your own delicious creations at home and beyond.
The History of Jerky
Jerky is a type of dried meat that originated as a way for people to preserve meat in time before refrigeration. Jerky has been a staple food for many cultures worldwide, including Native Americans, who made jerky from buffalo, deer, and elk meat.
Its actual origins are something of a mystery. Its exact origin cannot be pinpointed, though some believe it dates back to ancient Egypt. The true history of jerky likely began with the early Native Americans drying strips of lean meat in the sun to preserve them for later use. Later they added smoking or salting techniques to add flavour and give the dried meat an even longer shelf life.
Jerky continued to evolve throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, during pioneering and wagon train days, as hunters used it as light, travel-friendly provisions. Nowadays, even the best beef jerky be found everywhere, from grocery store shelves to fad diets.
How to Make Jerky
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can make your own jerky at home. Jerky is not difficult to make at home with the right ingredients and supplies or can be purchased readily from grocers, convenience stores or online. While there are many different recipes, the typical process remains the same, you’re essentially slicing, seasoning and drying various types of meat.
To start off, you’ll need a dehydrator or oven, a marinade typically made from soy sauce, paprika, Worchester sauce and your choice of seasonings. Simply slice the meat into thin strips, marinate it for a few hours, and then dry it in the dehydrator or oven until it reaches your desired level of toughness. Then once ready, you can either enjoy the jerky or store it for later enjoyment.
What about storage?
Being dried meat, this was initially designed to remain stored for a long time, but we still need to take some precautions. When you purchase or even make your jerky, it’s important to store it properly to ensure it stays fresh. This means storing it in a fridge or using the appropriate packaging to keep it fresh for longer, so you can retain the most flavour and freshness.
The meat can keep for quite a while. You can store it in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month or in the fridge for up to three months. It can also be frozen for up to a year, so keep this in mind if you’re interested in buying in bulk. All in all, it’s an excellent option for those looking to keep a stockpile of nutritious food for a rainy day.
Is Jerky healthy?
In addition to being a tasty snack, jerky also has potential health benefits. Some studies have suggested that jerky may help to reduce the risk of heart disease, as it is low in fat and cholesterol. It may also help to boost energy levels and improve mental clarity. Jerky is also a good source of protein, which can help to build muscle mass and aid in recovery after workouts.
Also, those who want all-natural jerky will have plenty of options as many brands now contain no artificial preservatives or miniaturisation chemicals, making them healthier snacks than processed foods. Just check the label and choose these healthier brands over others that use too many preservatives.
Overall, jerky is an excellent snack that people worldwide have enjoyed for centuries. Whether you like it spicy or sweet, choose to make your own or buy it from the store, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the snack. So there’s no excuse to include this delicious delicacy in your week.
Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash