Before refrigerators and freezers were available, people needed a way to prevent the meat they harvested from spoiling. One of the earliest methods was creating jerky – a form of meat preservation in which fresh meat is dried.
The word jerky comes from a South American native tribe called the Quechua, originally part of the ancient Inca empire, and was used as early as 1550.
They called it ch’arki, which means “to burn (meat)”. Drying meat meant high-protein fuel was readily available even when food was scarce. Over the years, people began experimenting by adding various spices, consuming it for taste rather than out of necessity. Jerky is now one of the world’s leading protein snacks.
Tip: Cabela's has combined just the right mixture of seasonings, spices and liquid to make scrumptious jerky every time with Cabela's Smokehouse Jerky Juice
How to Make Energy-Packing Jerky Treats
Once you have trimmed off all the fat, the next step is to cut the meat into strips. It is important to make sure the strips are the same thickness – if they’re not, thinner pieces will dry out and crumble during drying, while thicker pieces will still be raw. There are many ways to ensure you come out with even strips. You can place the meat in the freezer until it is partially frozen (30 to 60 minutes).
This takes the elasticity out so you can make straight, even cuts. Slice across the grain, cutting meat into 1⁄8" to 3⁄8" strips. Another option is to use a meat slicer or a jerky slicing board. With these methods, you get the same thickness every time and you can slice the meat without freezing it. If you slice across the grain, your jerky will be easier to chew, but more prone to falling apart. If you have a bunch of small scraps of meat, you can make ground jerky. You will need a grinder and an extruder, such as a jerky gun, for this method.
Now that you have the strips, you can use the incredible recipes and seasonings kits available, or you can make your own tasty recipes to marinate them (for at least eight hours) in the refrigerator to infuse the meat with delicious flavors.
After the strips are fully marinated, drying the strips can be done with a dehydrator, in the oven or even in a smoker. Smoking the jerky before putting it in a dehydrator adds a smoky flavor that can’t be achieved with a liquid-smoke seasoning.
Whatever way you choose, you will have a convenient, easy-to-store, easy-to-pack, great-tasting, nutritious snack for all your hunting, camping, fishing and other adventures.
Watch: How to Make Waterfowl Jerky Recipe video