The word jerky actually means dried meat
The word jerky actually means dried meat, which is the end result of meat that has been cut into strips, trimmed of all fat, placed into a marinade of sweet, spicy or salty liquid, and then has been dried via low heat. In some cases, meat is salted and sun-dried. An early food preservation technique used years ago. Dried meat is still produced today and can be stored without refrigeration.
Folks who love the outdoors, such as campers and backpackers, take dried meat along on their treks since it is handy and doesn’t need to stay cold.
Recipes typically use one meat. Although beef is the meat used most often to make jerky, other meats can be used, such as pork, venison, ostrich, turkey, emu, elk, alligator, tuna, and salmon. Notice that chicken is not mentioned. The flavor and texture of dried meat from raw poultry is not particularly appetizing, so most people steer clear of it.
Ancient peoples, such as the Inca, have used the age-old method of drying meat by slicing it thinly and hanging it beside a smoky fire. They prepared the meat of animals they had hunted or raised. Insects would not have the opportunity to lay their eggs in the raw meat due to the smoke and fire being an irritant to them, so the meat was safe from bacteria. The smoking method preserved, flavored and dried the raw meat all at the same time.
Today, the prcess is slightly different. In order to keep bacteria from growing before the meat is dried; the meat is sliced or pressed thinly and then dried immediately at low temperatures. Good jerky
will be flexible and a bit tough at the same time, but if it is brittle, it was dried for too long.
The factories that dry meat today have special ovens that are constructed with insulated panels. Raw marinated strips of meat are placed on slightly oiled racks of nylon screens. The rack is then rolled into the drying oven. The ovens are manufactured in such a way that the combination of low heat and air moving quickly produces a tasty snak with just the right amount of moisture.
Dehydration isn’t the only method by which meat is preserved. Today, the most common way to preserve the meat is salting, using a dry rub. This method not only preserves, but provides for excellent flavor as well.
Marinating the raw meat extends the drying process quite a bit, but some still marinate the meat strips to add moisture to the finished product.
For those looking for a healthy snack, natural and/or organic jerky is also available on the market today. Natural and organic jerky is produced using meat that has been processed very little and from animals who have been raised strictly on organic feed. No hormones or animal by-products are fed to these animals.
People who react adversely to MSG, gluten, or artificial flavors can eat the organic or natural jerky
since they are preservative free. However, the one down side is that this meat must be eaten quickly (within three days), or refrigerated once the package is opened.
dryed meat can be found in just about every convenience store, gas station and supermarket in the United States and Canada.