Beef jerky seems to cause extreme reactions in people. They either love it or hate it. I love it. Yes, eating beef jerky can be a marathon chewing experience. But I love the taste of it. It also helps me avoid eating too much junk food because after I eat a few pieces of beef jerky I’m satisfied and no longer want to consume an entire bag of potato chips.
Although beef jerky is relatively low in calories, it contains a lot of sodium so it’s often not considered a health food. I consider it a fairly healthy snack though. It’s a lot better for you than eating those chips I mentioned above or eating cake, pie, brownies, and candy bars.
If you like beef jerky but don’t want to give your jaw a workout there’s some types of beef jerky that are easy to chew. Look for pieces of beef jerky that are chopped and formed. They are much easier to chew than traditional beef jerky which is made from slices of beef. But the chopped and formed beef jerky is typically higher in calories and lower in protein than traditional beef jerky so it’s not as good for you. You can also make your own easy to chew beef jerky if you have a food dehydrator, good quality ground beef, seasonings, and some patience.
If you look at your local store you’ll usually find beef jerky seasoning packets right next to the food dehydrators. If you prefer to mix your own seasonings there are lots of free recipes available online. Do a search for “beef jerky seasoning recipe” or “beef jerky recipe” and you’ll get tens of thousands of “hits.” You’ll have more recipes than you’ll know what to do with.
I’ve made beef jerky at home with ground beef countless times. And although it’s easy to make, it’s an investment of time and patience. The ground beef and seasoning are mixed together (that’s the easy part). Then the meat needs to be pressed into strips (this is the time-consuming part). The strips are then placed in the dehydrator. That’s when patience is required because, depending on what type of jerky you are making it takes 4-12 hours to dry and become jerky.
If you make your own jerky keep in mind that it shrinks a lot, sometimes up to two-thirds. You may think you’re making a lot of jerky until you open your dehydrator back up after the meat has dried and you see little pieces of meat where there used to be big pieces of meat.
Although some people enjoy making their own beef jerky, most people prefer to buy their beef jerky already made. There are lots of choices. In addition to the choices at your local grocer and convenience store, many meat markets and butcher shops make and sell their own beef jerky.
The flavor choices are varied too. Although traditional beef jerky is my favorite flavor, I also enjoy peppered and teriyaki flavored beef jerky. Hot or jalepeno flavored beef jerky is also readily available at most stores, but if you like really hot beef jerky you might want to shop online where you have more choices of hot, hotter, and hottest flavors of jerky. Other flavors of beef jerky I’ve seen include: barbecued, hickory smoked, honey glazed, Hawaiian, lemon pepper, Cajun, Tex Mex and chili.
And, in addition to the traditional slices of beef jerky, you can now purchase shredded beef jerky and beef jerky chips.
If you’re looking jerky that’s made with something other than beef you have lots of choices too. There’s turkey jerky (yummy), chicken jerky (also yummy), buffalo jerky (tastes a lot like beef jerky), ostrich jerky (not my favorite but I was predisposed to not like it because ostrich jerky didn’t sound good to me), alligator jerky (wasn’t a fan of this kind either), crocodile (wouldn’t try it since I didn’t like the alligator jerky) kangaroo (haven’t worked up the courage to try this kind yet), Emu (scared of this one too), Wild Boar jerky (have only seen this kind online and haven’t tried yet), Venison (it was okay but I’m not a fan of venison) and smoked Salmon (haven’t tried this one yet but it sounds good).
I’ve also heard of people making their own trout jerky, goose jerky, and duck jerky. The choices seem nearly endless.
If you’re wondering about the history of jerky and where it originated, it seems to be a little unclear. Some people say Native Americans made the first jerky (buffalo jerky) thousands of years ago. Other people say an ancient Inca tribe called the Quechua made the first jerky in the 1500’s. Although the process to make beef jerky have changed and been modernized over time, the same basic procedure of thinly slicing meat, adding seasonings, and drying it with a low heat are the same as when jerky was first made.
Jerky is a food that’s likely here to stay. And although beef jerky is by far the most popular type of jerky, more and more people are becoming adventurous in their tastes and want to try some of the more “exotic” types of jerky. As that trend continues, it’s hard to imagine what the next type of jerky will be. Could it be tofu jerky? Or has someone already made that kind…...