What is beef jerky?

For many years, beef jerky has been a great snack option, especially when access to a refrigerator is not available. These dried pieces of meat offer a nutritional snack that can offer individuals many health benefits. Everyone from athletes to office workers and travelers to students enjoy the convenience beef jerky has to offer.

So why do so many like having beef jerky for a snack? Why has this become such a popular go to snack for those on the go? These questions and more have been asked. However, to know the answer to those questions you must first understand the answer to “What is beef jerky?”

What is beef jerky?

According to the USDA, jerky is a product that is “nutrient-dense meat that has been made lightweight by drying.” Through the drying process a pound of meat can be transformed into four ounces of jerky. Once the moisture has been removed, the dry meat can be stored for extended periods of time without refrigeration.

Who eats jerky?

Because it does not spoil and does not need refrigeration, beef jerky and beef snack sticks make for great dry snacks. This is why jerky is a popular option for those who love to camp, go hiking and workout. In fact, anyone who will be away from a source of refrigeration will benefit from having beef jerky available as a food source and a snack.

Jerky history

Jerky has been around since ancient Egypt and according to the USDA, jerky was made from animal meat that was too large to consume in one sitting. Throughout history, humans including the Egyptians and North American Indians mixed the ground dried meat of bear, buffalo and whales together with dried fruit to make pemmican. Biltong is dried meat used in African countries and the word jerky is derived from the Native American word charqui.

Sun drying was the method used to create jerky before modern technology was developed to help speed the process along. This process made it possible to keep leftover meat from large game. It also made it possible for cowboys and those who needed to travel long distances to carry a lightweight meal option with them.

Homemade jerky

The USDA offers tips to help those wanting to make homemade beef jerky. These tips will help ensure the jerky made is safe to consume and free of any bacteria growth. Some of at home safe handling and preparation methods for making homemade jerky include:

  • Wash hands with soap and water before and after handling the meat
  • Keep all utensils, equipment and counters clean
  • Do not place frozen meat on the counter to defrost, put it in the refrigerator
  • Do not save marinade to reuse
  • Marinade beef in the refrigerator
  • Steam and/or roast the red meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F and poultry to 165 degrees F

What is beef jerky made of?

Beef jerky can be made from a variety of different meats. The more traditional and more popular meat is beef. A good cut of lean red meat makes the best meat beef jerky. However, what the best meat for beef jerky will depend greatly upon the health benefits a person is looking for.

Overtime, manufacturers have come up with new ways to make beef jerky healthier. Some of the healthier options include jerky made from turkey, chicken and vegetables (vegan options). Other meats used to make jerky include ostrich, buffalo, whale, bison and deer. If done properly, just about any type of meat can be made into beef jerky sticks.

Is beef jerky a healthy snack?

According to British Beef Jerky, jerky is a go-to snack for many. It does not matter if they are hiking the mountains or sitting on the couch watching television, beef jerky can offer a healthy snack option. In fact, beef jerky is a great survival food or a simple snack to hold you over until your next meal.

Beef jerky for diets

The Paleo Diet requires individuals to eat only items that were available to Paleolithic ancestors. This diets allows those following the plan to eat a lot of meat, fruits and nuts. According to Paleo Mag, beef jerky is one of the best foods allowed on this diet for followers to consume. Many even call it the beef jerky diet and consume a majority of their meats after they have been dried out.

Where to purchase beef jerky?

If desired, beef jerky can be made at home in your kitchen. All you need is some fresh, lean meat and an oven. However, making beef jerky at home can be very time consuming. Those not wanting to make their own jerky will find a variety of flavors and options of beef jerky for sale at local stores. You will find beef jerky at local gas stations, grocery stores, convenience stores and even at sporting goods stores.

Beef jerky facts

Fox News has comprised a list of fun facts and things you might not have known about beef jerky. Here are some of those fun facts:

  • Jerky has been around for a very long time and dates back to the ancient Egyptians
  • Jerky was created for a purpose and used to preserve meats from big game hunts
  • Jerky was named after the Native American word that means to burn meat
  • Jerky tastes great in space and NASA has been taking it up into space since 1996

Jerky can be made from a variety of different meat sources. The meat used in jerky and how it is processed can have a huge impact on the health benefits this snack has to offer. Overall, beef jerky is a great snack alternative when looking for healthy snacks online or at local stores. Plus, the fact that jerky has a long shelf life and does not need to be refrigerated it is a very convenient snack to keep with you.