The origins of beef jerky are debated. It is believed to have started with the Native Americans, who used this preservation method to keep meat supplies for their long journeys. Others believe that the Spanish began beef jerky during their colonization of the Americas. Either way, beef jerky is a delicious and nutritious snack that people of all cultures can enjoy.
So, why is it called beef jerky? Beef Jerky got its name through the action of jerking the beef. To jerk something means to give a quick, sudden movement. The beef would be jerked to create smaller strips for consumption.
Brief History Of Beef Jerky
Some believe that the very first instances of beef jerky were long before the new world. In fact, it's been said that beef jerky may have started as far back as ancient egypt or ancient rome. This would make sense for that time, as discovering the drying process of almost any meat would be helpful for societies.
Still the origins of beef jerky are a bit of a mystery. A school of thought believes that the indigenous people, in modern-day Peru, invented the earliest versions of beef jerky. This is because the unique climate conditions of their high-altitude region made ancient jerky production possible. Being in the Andes Mountains enable the native tribes to easily dry meat from various wildlife.
However, the most popular theory is that the Native Americans invented it. The South American tribe Quechua called it Ch’arki. The Quechuan word translates into “to burn meat" and can also mean "dried, salted meat". It is also believed that the Spanish conquistadors who came to America in the 16th century were the first to call it jerky.
Moving forward from the 16th century, into the 1800's - beef jerky products finally became popular in the United States. Dried meat became extremely popular among Cowboys and Pioneers due to their ability to be stored for long periods of time, without spoiling. Note, this was important in the 1800's. These days we have refrigerators, but they weren't invented until 1913 by Fred W. Wolf. Wether these cowboys were herding cattle or on the railroads moving steel, or our pioneers were exploring the unknowns of the Amazon, they had a protein-packed snack to keep them going.
Our favorite dried meat snacks have come a long way from being either not flavored at all, to the classic salt and pepper seasonings. Nowadays, beef jerky is a popular snack with different flavors and varieties like Dr. Pepper Jerky and Chipotle Honey. It still retains it's high amount of protein and is low in fat, making it a healthy option for people on the go, home, or the office.
3 Interesting Facts About Beef Jerky
Humans are not the only ones that make jerky
This might sound weird; however, it is the truth. Insects such as red fire ants have been observed to save tasty cuts of their meals and set them to dry. Other animals, like red squirrels, slice mushrooms and put them to dry on trees to consume further ahead. Nonetheless, this can’t compete with the flavorful beef jerky.
It is filling and lean
Beef Jerky is lean trimmed meat cut into strips & dried with a long shelf life; therefore, making it a healthy high protein snack.
Beef jerky is nutritious
This is because it is low fat (this is producer-dependent) compared to other meat products, making it a healthier snack option.
Health Benefits of Beef Jerky
1. It contains a high concentration of nutrients, including proteins, minerals, and peptides.
2. Beef jerky prevents Iron deficiency. Heme iron which is much more absorbable for humans than non-heme iron is usually derived from animals. Beef jerky comes from red meat. Therefore, it has enough iron suitable for human consumption.
3. It helps to boost immunity. Beef contains protein and zinc, each of which can help build the human system against certain illnesses and also aids the proper functioning of the immune system.
4. It helps build and maintain muscle mass. Studies have shown that the reduction of muscle mass increases injury risks, leading to a loss of independence for seniors.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)
How Is Beef Jerky Made?
The crucial part of how beef jerky is made is not to reduce the fat content in the meat. Long before it became a widely recognized snack, beef jerky was a meat preservation method. The meat is cut into thin slices and then dehydrated to stop it from spoiling. When done correctly, meat preserved this way lasts an extended period. Typically, this drying includes the addition of salt to prevent bacteria growth before the beef has finished the dehydrating process.
Is Beef Jerky Cooked or Dried?
The meat is sliced and dried. It is not advisable to cook under high temperatures as beef jerky is prepared dry, not cooked. In modern times, beef jerky is ready at an industrial scale using high-temperature drying ovens. The process handles the slicing, pressing, and drying of the meat to make it the jerky it becomes.
Is Beef Jerky Raw?
Because a specific meal does not pass over hot flames, come in contact with direct heat, or be soaked in a pot of hot water or oil does not exactly make it raw. Beef jerky is fully cooked meat that can be eaten and used in the cooking process at any time of preparation.
However, when considering the safety of the meal, modern techniques have found a way to reduce the chances of contamination that could lead to food poisoning in the preservation process, making it a much safer, healthier, and tastier snack!
How best can I store my beef jerky?
Storing jerky in hot, sunny places does the most harm and will cause it the most damage. In order to maximize the shelf life of your beef jerky, it is best to keep it in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Are There Restaurants That Serve Beef Jerky As a Part Of Their Menu?
Many restaurants are beginning to include beef jerky and its tasty variations on the menu. They come in different flavors with different side dishes and make for wonderful finger foods. Over the years, beef jerky has changed how it is cooked and prepared and is considered an essential part of a menu. Now, places specialize and have beef jerky as their entire menu. One of which is Holy Jerky. You can discover our latest flavor and juiciest jerky choices, from bold jerky platters to charcuterie boards.