You’re probably eating beef jerky right now. (If you’re not, go grab some!) I bet you’re looking at those delicious pieces of meat thinking: Who thought of this awesome snack? Okay, maybe not. But jerky has been fueling carnivore snackers like you for nearly a thousand years—a lot longer than you may have thought. The jerky you’re eating right now derived from the Quechuan word, “ch’arki” (which means “dried meat”). Jerky was originally a preservation technique, allowing ancient civilizations to keep meat from spoiling. Due to its long shelf life and light weight, jerky made for easy nutrition on long journeys. Now, jerky makes for easy, healthy and tasty snacks for you. Take a minute (don’t worry, you can still keep munching) for a brief jerky history lesson:
Jerky has been enjoyed by peoples far beyond the Wild Wild West. Versions have originated from various cultures at multiple times in history around the world. Herein is a short outline of the beginnings of your favorite snack:
Europeans arrived in the New World to discover the Native Americans making dried deer, elk or buffalo meat. North American Cree Indians mixed berries and fat with cooked meat to create pemmican, another version of jerky. During the westward expansion of the North America, pioneers sun-dried meat by hanging it over their covered wagons for 2-3 days. Jerky served as an essential source of nutrition as explorers traveled to undiscovered areas due to limited fresh food and supplies.
Jerky can be traced back to the Inca Empire in 1550. Deer, elk or buffalo meat was boned, trimmed and cut into slices before rubbing in salt. The South American natives sun-dried or smoked the meat inside animal hides for 10-12 hours.
According to South African folklore, native tribesman first produced biltong—a cured meat similar to jerky—by placing strips of venison meat under horse saddles during travels across the African Subcontinent. Chaffing tenderized the meat while the sweat would spice it.
Industrialization in the United States allowed for the mass production—and mass consumption—of jerky products. Jerky can be made from a variety of meats including beef, buffalo and turkey. Flavors such as teriyaki, black pepper, bar-b-que and sweet n’ spicy are now available. Today, jerky is one of America’s favorite snacks—it’s high-protein, low-fat and low-carb. (But really, it’s just plain great.) Since 1968, Golden Valley Natural has been making the best organic and all-natural beef jerky, buffalo jerky and turkey jerky around. They’re purists who believe you should have jerky the way nature intended—with no unnecessary additives and chemicals. Just high-quality meat from Idaho. Now it’s time to stop reading about jerky and actually get to eating it. Click over to the Golden Valley website and experience the “Flavor of the West”.