Protein on the Run
Jerky has been quite popular for hundreds of years, especially with people who carry their own food, such as trappers and hikers today. Jerky is a tough and salty meat, but it is also lightweight and it can last for quite some time without having to be refrigerated.
Jerky was originally made as long, thin strips of dried buffalo, elk, antelope and deer meat, etc. The meat was wind and sun dried and the word jerky comes from the Spanish charqui which is from the Quechua Indian word echarqui which actually translates into long, thin strips of dried meat.
After buffalo meat was originally used to make jerky, beef became the popular meat of choice for the recipe. There are now various types of jerky on the market including buffalo jerky and turkey jerky. Jerky comes in various flavors as it can be hot and spicy or just plain mild. Many jerky makers add different spices while making jerky to give it extra flavor and pizzazz. The meat used for jerky is usually marinated, cooked, shredded and then dried. The drying process preserves the meat and gives it a unique texture. You can easily make your own jerky at home in a smoker, oven, food dehydrator or in the sun.
Making your jerky in a smoker will give it an added smoky flavor that you won't be able to get in any other of the methods. However you must be careful when smoking the jerky as it is quite easy to over smoke jerky because it is cut so thin before it is smoked. When making jerky get a very lean cut of meat. You can use anything really but something like a sirloin tip roast is quite lean and easy to work with. Trim all of the fat from the meat as it will quickly become rancid fast and will increase the drying time. You should cut the meat across the grain into slices about ¼ inch thick. There are various spice mixtures and marinades that you can use so pick your favorites and sprinkle them on the meat and start smoking it.
You should use a low temperature, about 150 degrees F, and little smoke when smoking jerky. You should smoke or dry your jerky until it is completely dry. This could take from 12 to 72 hours and trying to run a smoker for more than 12 hours can be difficult. However it should only take about three hours to get the smoke flavor into the jerky. After that you can take the jerky out of the smoker and finish it in a food dehydrator, oven, or in the sun. If you sun dry the jerky you need a relatively dry climate and put the meat where insects and animals can't get at it.