Before the invention of refrigeration and preservatives, the only way to preserve meat for long periods of time was to dry it into jerky. Drying meat into jerky is possibly the oldest way of preserving meat and jerky dates back to the earliest civilizations.
Traditionally, jerky was made from long, thin strips of meat that was salted and dried in the sun or over a small smokey fire. Although jerky can still be made in this way, techniques have become more sophisticated in our day. Jerky is still an extremely popular food and millions of people still enjoy jerky as a delicious, convenient, and healthy source of protein. Jerky is perfect for hikers, campers, or just an easy, non-messy snack.
Today, jerky is most commonly made from beef, but jerky can also be made from poultry, fish, and wild game such as deer (venison), elk, buffalo, bison, moose, caribou, antelope, and other game. Many varieties of seasonings can be used to make different flavors of jerky. Salt is traditionally used as the main preservative for jerky, but acids such as vinegar and citrus juice in marinades can also help to kill bacteria. Jerky can be made without salt, but its shelf life will be drastically reduced.
Store-bought jerky comes in many flavors with any number of chemicals, additives, and preservatives and can be surprisingly expensive. However, you can make your own jerky at home very easily. Most people are surprised at just how easy it is to make delicious jerky that is much cheaper and healthier than mass-produced jerky available in stores. So by making your own jerky, you not only control the ingredients, you also save money.
Alternative: Jerky Snack Strips & Sticks
Who knew it was so easy to make your own jerky? Enjoy!