Jerky - what on earth is it?
If as a pom like me, you've been offered kangaroo jerky in Australia, you might initially have been (a) appalled or (b) confused. After all in the UK we're not terribly familiar with jerky, let alone the consumption of Skippy. But kangaroo jerky in particular is actually very tasty and, since kangaroo is an organic meat by default, not unhealthy. So what is jerky anyway?
Jerky has been around for a very long time in one form or another. Drying meat is a great way to store it for relatively long periods of time, and so the process was used thousands of years ago. We have records of the Ancient Egyptians drying meat for storage.
Today, jerky is eaten as a wholesome snack by people who are on the go, camping, or just those who love it as a snack. There are many different flavours and meats that are used to make it.
When jerky is made commercially, the meat is heated to over 160 degrees in order to kill any bacteria that might be in it. After this, the moisture is removed from it mechanically. Without moisture, enzymes cannot react with the meat and cause it to spoil. The entire process is carefully monitored to ensure the jerky is completely safe for consumption. This jerky can be kept for about a year.
It is certainly possible to make jerky at home if you want. You should get a meat drier if you are going to attempt this. Many people get great results from making their own, but it should be noted that things can go wrong with the process. Whenever you are dealing with meat you need to be very careful to ensure thorough cooking and prevent contamination. Also, home jerky is really only good for a few months before it should be gotten rid of.
While some people don't consider jerky a healthy snack, it really can be. It is high in protein which makes it great for those who need a lot of energy. It is also very filling which can make it a great snack for those who are trying to eat less and lose weight.
If you find the right jerky, you can buy it free of MSG, gluten, and other ingredients. This makes it even healthier, although this may cut down its shelf life a little, depending on the processing.
There is a good chance that you can find a type of jerkythat will appeal to your tastes. The flavours that come onthe jerky can be very mild all the way to very hot orspicy. Peppered jerky is a very popular choice, along with "teriyaki" style.
On top of this, you can take you pick of what kind of meat you want. Beef and turkey are very common choices in many different countries. But you can make jerky out of most types of meat. Some countries have very unique types of jerky, such as Australia.
Probably the most famous variety of jerky from the Aussies is crocodile jerky. This may seem bizarre to some people, but this is a very popular food in Australia and some parts of the United States. If the idea appeals to you, you may also want to look into kangaroo jerky or even emu jerky. These Australian recipes are unlike any other type of jerky you've ever tasted.
If you have never really tried jerky, you may be surprised by the wide variety of textures and flavours that are available. If you are already a jerky fan, you may want to look into some of the more "exotic" types out there. It really is a wonderful snack that is appropriate for many circumstances and can even be sent as a gourmet gift.
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