I’ve always wondered how “jerky” (like beef jerky) got its name. Is it because when you bite this dried meat which could be tough sometimes, you have to tug the other half in a jerking motion? It was imaginative but incorrect. The term jerky is derived from the Quechua word ch’arki which means dried, salted meat (Quechua is an indigenous language family spoken by the Quechua peoples, primarily living in the Peruvian Andes).
Drying and smoking meat is one of the world’s oldest food preservation methods. Eliminating the moisture from meat prevents bacterial growth and smoking it tenderizes and flavors the meat for a better mouthfeel.
Here are some defining characteristics of a jerky – it is a lean trimmed meat. It is cut into strips like bacon. To prevent the meat from succumbing to spoilage, it is dried and dehydrated. Salt becomes a factor because it is used to help prevent bacterial growth in the meat and cause it to spoil. It is ready to eat.
The jerky you buy in stores today strives to be tasty so that buyers choose them over other brands. Because of market competition, companies producing jerky have to be creative. To make their jerky taste better, they include marinating the meat or using seasoning, spices, rubs, or sweeteners like brown sugar. They also smoke the meat for added flavor.
- The United States celebrates National Jerky Day every June 12.
- Beef Jerky is very profitable – it is one of the fastest-growing meat snack businesses in 2018.
- You’d think you can make jerky from a big or regular-sized animal with enough meat in them, but you’d be surprised to know that there is such a thing as earthworm jerky!
- Jerky is considered the food of the pioneers.