Beef jerky is dried, usually over a fire, meat trimmed into strips, then wrapped in leaves to prevent spoiling. Usually, this dehydrating includes the addition of seasonings to prevent bacterial growth during the drying process. The term “jerky” comes from the Quechua native word is’arko, which means dried, salted meat. A standard version of this preparation is made by soaking the meat in water for several days then drying it in the sun to make jerky. Although it may sound unusual, jerky is very popular today. The meat is also used in other cuisines.
The beef jerky we see today was most often prepared by an old trapper who would use his expertise in composing this type of food from wild over-harvested animals. These people were the first to discover the many great-tasting and unique flavors of these dried meat products. The idea to use jerky in cooking came from these early cultures when they already enjoyed the taste and aroma of the meat.
Many different types of beef jerky are made with different cuts of meat or are combined with unique flavors. Some are more traditional and others have been created to appeal to a modern taste. Most common styles include beef jerky that is made from cuts of beef such as the round steak, ribeye, and sirloin tips. There are also cuts of meat such as the strip and the tenderloin. Blue ox, turkey necks, and Swiss balls are some of the other cuts that are used for making jerky.
The dehydrator is the best way to make the most out of beef jerky. The first step is to soak the meat in water for several hours. Most dehydrators have built-in sponges that will assist you in removing the majority of the moisture from the meat. Afterward, place it into your dehydrator bag and close the lid to keep the meat from absorbing odors and moisture. Make sure you set your dehydrator’s temperature controls to the appropriate number on the control panel so the material dehydrated will not be destroyed by excessive heat.
Dehydrators will come in handy not only for meat jerky but for any dried meats like beef jerky, too. Because dehydrated meats are not fresh, they have a tendency to lose more volume than fresh meats like beef jerky, though they also tend to be lower in fat. If you don’t want to deal with the problems of moisture loss then an automatic meat dehydrator could help you. Since these units use mechanical forces to break down the dried matter, their size and power aren’t something you need to worry about.
In order to give you a better idea as to whether or not using a dehydrator will be beneficial to you, we need to check out the moisture retention of dried beef jerky. A typical dehydrator will hold up to 20 pounds of meat, though that may vary depending on the model. That means you could dehydrate an entire pound of meat using just one of these machines. The moisture retained in the product will be less than that contained in an open pack of meat. This difference in moisture content makes dehydrating jerky a good way to increase the amount of saturated fat you’re eating.
A word of caution regarding the use of dehydrated beef jerky. Any time you dry meat by dehydration, you increase the amount of salt in your meat has in it. This means that unless you plan to consume the beef jerky straight up (which is rarely done) you should be mindful of the salt content. If you don’t care too much about your health, you could probably eat the jerky without too much concern; however if you are concerned about maintaining a healthy diet you should think about cutting back on your salt intake. Just be aware that this could result in a lower vitamin content as well.
It is important to know that dehydrated beef jerky has similar shelf life to fresh meat. This is because salt tends to hasten the shelf life of food. You can extend the shelf life of dried meat by storing it in the refrigerator, though you should make sure to keep it within the confines of its package. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s label for advice on keeping foods within the recommended shelf life.