7 Surprising Facts About Jerky You Should Know
Food is a subject that many of us find fascinating, and there are numerous things to learn about foods that may pique your interest. Jerky is a food that many people find delicious, which has paved the road to its popularity. But you may find some of the below facts about jerky surprising—they will increase your knowledge of why this food is so amazing.
The Concept of Jerky Is Centuries Old
Many of us have seen and eaten jerky for many years. But the concept of dried meat has been around longer than most people realize and has origins dating back to ancient Egypt. The people of ancient Egypt had records of the food they ate, one of them being a dried strip of meat cooked over a fire or dried by the sun. Many of the methods we use for cooking jerky today have similarities to these ancient practices. Sun drying venison and elk jerky is common among hunters, and smoked jerky gains its flavor from drying over a fire.
When Jerky Became Common
Even after ancient Egypt, the indigenous South Americans, known as the Quecha, made charqui, which translates to “dried meat.” The conquistadors of that time found the meat delicious and its preservation methods unique and helpful for the harsh winter months when food was scarce. Over time, this practice evolved into what we call jerky and gained popularity throughout the centuries.
Jerky Has Been to Space Numerous Times
Most astronauts rely on freeze-dried foods that will rehydrate when placed in water. But jerky is another reliable food that will last for long periods and tastes great when you’re far away from home. It’s an interesting concept to think about: that food we commonly eat while on the road will take a trip to space. But multiple facts about jerky are surprising.
The Benefits of Jerky for Space Travel
Whether you eat it on the road or in the earth’s orbit, jerky is a great food on long trips. The protein and flavors that jerky provides give astronauts additional strength and muscle control, thanks to the sodium. Since hydration is critical during spaceflight, it’s important to have a source of sodium, such as jerky, to balance out the water in the body.
Animals Make Jerky As Well
Jerky is produced worldwide, and many humans enjoy the great taste of this dried food. However, humans aren’t the only ones to enjoy a specific cut of meat. Some carnivorous and omnivorous animals preserve strips of meat from prey.
When food is scarce, animals rely on food preservation to prevent extreme hunger. Rodents such as rats and squirrels will often store their food year-round, including small bits of meat, as they are omnivorous. Red fire ants will attack in swarms when a larger insect or animal trespasses on their territory, then take the animal’s body to their anthill for preservation and later consumption. Protein is an important part of a balanced diet, and meat is one of the primary sources of the nutrient. Eating meat has numerous benefits for animals and humans alike, and certain organisms need it to survive the harsh conditions of the world.
There Is a National Jerky Day
Throughout the year, we mark our calendars with special dates and holidays. One surprising fact about jerky is that there’s a holiday for it called National Jerky Day, celebrated on June 12 every year.
This day celebrates the dried meats of the world and prompts people to partake in the taste of delicious snacks such as jerky. You could also show appreciation for jerky by adding it to your food and giving a dish such as soup or an omelet a great flavor. Jerky’s various spices and types of meat will complete your meal.
You Can Make Jerky From Almost Any Meat
We often see jerky made from common animals such as cattle, chicken, and deer. But it may surprise you to know that any animal’s meat may become jerky.
Essentially, jerky is the muscle meat of an animal that we dry out to remove fat, making it thin and crispy. Any animal with enough muscle will make a great source of meat for jerky, and some places sell exotic meat from animals you wouldn’t expect. Alligator jerky, otter jerky, and even armadillo jerky are just a few types of dried meat you may find worldwide. They may even be local delicacies depending on your location! Some of these animals could be a beef jerky alternative if you want to explore and taste-test the meat of the world.
What Animal Meat Makes the Best Jerky?
Although there are various types of meat for jerky, some of the best animals for jerky include cattle, elk, or deer. Larger animals will have more protein due to their larger muscles. Their size will also mean they have more fat, adding flavor to the meat after it sheds. These animals are excellent choices for jerky, and many of us enjoy their taste.
Jerky Lacks Fat for Preservation
One of the primary parts of making jerky is fat removal. The animal fat falls off the jerky as it dries since it requires hydration to stick to the meat. This loss of fat creates the dried meat that we salt and season for flavor. Fat loss is essential to meat for preservation’s sake. The meat will spoil within a couple of weeks with fat attached, which makes fat removal a priority when dehydrating the meat. The lack of fat and moisture is how jerky lasts for so long.
Jerky Is on Every Continent Except Antarctica
Jerky is popular among many Americans; however, numerous countries have their version of jerky that they regularly eat. Every continent has dried meat that the population will cook in various ways.
Biltong is a dried meat in Africa and Australia that people prepare with vinegar and other ingredients over a fire. In Korea, Yukpo is the dried meat of choice, with soy sauce and numerous other ingredients. Yukpo is considered a special food as beef is rare and expensive in Korea. It comes from a small type of cattle called Hanwoo, known for its sweet, beefy taste.
European, North American, and South American countries share similar methods of preparing jerky. They have variations in the animals they use, such as alpaca jerky in western South America.
The only continent that doesn’t have its own jerky is Antarctica. The inhospitable environment and lack of permanent human inhabitation make mass-producing jerky difficult.
Many of us enjoy the taste of jerky, and the interesting food has fascinating traits. These fascinating facts give more depth to the wonders of jerky and make the excellent food more enticing to people looking for a delicious snack.