Types of Jerky

Jerky has been around for centuries, being one of the most efficient ways to store protein-rich food. Some speculate that it was first produced by the Native Americans thousands of years ago, but some argue that it was first made by an Inca tribe called "Quechua" in the 1500s. Regardless, this common food staple enabled humans to store food for long periods of time without the need for refrigeration and packed quite a nutritional punch that allowed humans to survive during long journeys.

Jerky is a meat that is lean and free of fat. It is cut into thin strips and dried at a low heat with herbs and spices that remove almost all moisture from the meat. This process cures the meat and prevents it from spoiling for a long period of time. Salt is used in the jerky making process, which ensures that the possibility of bacterial growth is eliminated as the meat is stripped of its moisture.


Ostrich meat is similar to beef as it shares the same red color. It has a high iron and protein content while also being particularly low in cholesterol. Some say that ostrich jerky tastes like ham. It is usually marinated in a soy sauce base along with brown sugar, garlic, and onion. Of course, all jerky also uses salt as a main ingredient for the curing process, but ostrich jerky contains less sodium than many other types of jerky.


Beef is the most common meat used for jerky today. It can be flavored in a variety of ways, either playing off its original tastes (savory, somewhat like a well-done steak), spicy, peppered, sweet, or even with the inclusion of teriyaki flavors. To bring out a beef jerky's original flavors, it soaks in a soy sauce based marinade along with brown sugar, salt, garlic, and onions. Beef jerky is usually produced by using Grade A cuts and a method of hickory smoke curation.


Turkey jerky tastes somewhat like a freshly roasted turkey breast and tends to be cut more thickly than other jerkies. This gives the jerky a more moist and soft kind of texture, which can be desirable for some jerky lovers that do not particularly enjoy the toughness of other jerkies. Usually, turkey jerky aims for one of two different flavors and these are original and spicy. Always, turkey jerky is cured with hickory smoke and contains less sodium content than other types of jerky meat.


One of the most popular fish to use in jerky is Ahi, also known as Yellow Fin Tuna. When made into a jerky, it has a soft and chewy texture and very little fishy taste or smell, as the spices used to cure it often overpower the original flavor. It is considered one of the healthiest jerky options, as it contains plenty of protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and B vitamins.


Buffalo jerky is slightly sweet and somewhat tender. Buffalo is considered a healthy meat choice for jerky as it is lower in sodium than most other jerkies and contains less fat. It's a great source of protein as well and can be produced in a variety of flavors. Usually, buffalo jerky is made by hand and can even be gluten free when prepared properly.


Duck jerky has a mildly sweet taste that is usually offset with a careful balance of pepper. The most common way to produce duck jerky is to marinate it in a soy sauce base combined with brown sugar, onion, garlic, and - of course - salt. Afterwards, it is cured in a gentle hickory smoke.


Elk jerky tastes similar to beef jerky and is produced in several flavors such as original, teriyaki, and spicy. Elk jerky is also able to be produced in a way that allows it to become gluten free. Elk jerky is prepared by allowing it to soak in a marinara of a soy sauce base along with brown sugar, garlic, onion, and salt. Other spices are chosen based on the desired final flavor of the jerky. Elk meat is naturally low in fat and cholesterol, but also contains high iron and protein content. Like most other jerky, it is cured in a hickory smoke.


Deer meat is another common meat used in the production of jerky. This particular type of jerky is cut into thick, solid strips and is left to soak in in a soy sauce based marinara with brown sugar, garlic, onion, and salt. Afterwards, it is dried in a hickory smoke. Deer meat has a savory taste somewhat like beef, but with a slight tang toward the end. This kind of meat is incredibly lean and high in both protein and a variety of B vitamins. It's one of the only kinds of meats that is commonly procured from hunting trips.


Alligator jerky tastes somewhat like chicken, but with a spin of its own included. The aftertaste is more like turkey with a touch of fish. Alligator is high in protein and monosaturated fat with a low caloric content. To make alligator jerky, the meat is cut into thick strips of tenderloin and flavored according to taste. It's best to use the most common soy sauce based marinara with the brown sugar, onion, garlic, and salt.


Alpaca meat is renowned for being one of the most flavorful kinds of meats in the world. In comparison to beef, chicken, or pork, alpaca meat contains an extraordinarily low cholesterol, fat, and caloric content. This incredibly lean meat also contains significantly less sodium than other kinds of meats. Alpaca meat tastes almost like beef, except for the sweet undertones. It's marinated in the same soy sauce based marinara with only one exception - pepper. The pepper offsets the sweet taste and gives the alpaca jerky a bolder taste that more closely resembles beef.

So, there are many different types of meat that one can use to produce quality jerky. It comes down individual preference of taste, whether one wants something sweeter or bolder. Jerky is an excellent food for camping, lunches, and a variety of other situations. Its long shelf life also makes it the perfect kind of food to store for emergencies, such as being snowed in or in other situations where traveling to procure food is not possible.

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