You might be a redneck if you think that beef jerky and Moon Pies are two of the major food groups.Jeff Foxworthy
For thousands of years, most civilizations in the human race have gained the benefits of consuming a diet that contains meat. Combine the amount of protein with the added fat and nutrients, and meat gives people the fuel they need to grow their brains, heal their bodies, and survive the long, cold winters.
One problem people have always faced with meat is that it will inevitably, sometimes very quickly, go bad. National Jerky Day celebrates one of the processes by which people have created a way for meat to last and be saved for the long months. Not only that, but it’s much easier to carry around–and all without losing its delicious flavor!
History of National Jerky Day
Jerky is essentially what happens when lean meat is put through the special process of soaking it in brine (salty water), and leaving it to dry under specific circumstances.
The origin of the word “jerky” would be most surprising to many people, as it is from the Quechua word ch’arki. The Quechua are a family of people who live in the Andes mountains of South America, which may be where the ideas for making jerky were first developed.
The process of creating jerky ensures that the bacteria will have insufficient time to form before the meat is properly dried, preserving it in a healthy, tasty manner. It usually involves using very thinly sliced meat as it dries better and faster.
Now, there are other ways to produce jerky than just using thinly sliced meat. In fact, it can be smoked, or it can be ground into a paste and pressed into shapes that are easily dried. The end result is just as delicious and amazing!
National Jerky Day was created to celebrate the history, popularity and nutritional benefits of any type of snacks made from dried meats. It’s the ideal opportunity to try out a new flavor of jerky. Or perhaps it’s time to try out jerky made from a different kind of meat, since it can be made from turkey, chicken, pork, beef, venison or any other form of meat that the jerky-maker chooses.
How to Celebrate National Jerky Day
Get started celebrating National Jerky Day with these interesting ideas, or come up with some other creative ones:
Eat Some Jerky
The most obvious, but necessary, way to celebrate National Jerky Day is to source some tasty jerky and then enjoy eating it! Get some that has been made locally, or try out a well known brand of beef, turkey or other kind of jerky that can be found at a nearby grocery store.
Take Jerky on a Trip
Ever wondered why jerky is often sold to people who are traveling? Not only is it a food that is easily preserved, but meat loses about 75% of its original weight during the drying process. Yet, it loses none of its nutritional value or flavor. That means it’s lightweight and easy to bring along, but it still packs a huge protein punch!
So the next time travel is in the works, get ready to pack that beef jerky. Or for that matter, just throw it in a lunchbox and take it to work for a healthy snack.
Try Making Jerky in a Dehydrator or Smoker
For those who really want to celebrate National Jerky Day in style, it is strongly recommended to not only go out and buy a favorite kind of jerky from the store, but possibly even to truly take on the mantle of a culinary adventurer and find a cookbook for jerky. Buy a smoker or dehydrator and get started making some jerky of your own!
Come up with some special flavor combinations and varieties, and produce the kind of snack people can eat the whole year round. Go out there and get smoking and curing and drying, and enjoy the delicious results!
Try a New Flavor of Jerky
Jerky can come in a surprising number of flavors, including some delicious and spicy orange and pepper varieties. In recent times, the flavors have even expanded to include that most beloved of meats, bacon.
These are some other particularly crazy types of Jerky that can (and should!) be tried on National Jerky Day:
- Kangaroo Jerky. Very low in fat and supplied by House of Jerky.
- Alligator Jerky. Certainly less scary than coming across a gator in the swamp! (Buffalo Bob’s is one brand.)
- Hawaiian Jerky. Beef jerky made with Hawaiian flavors of pineapple and garlic. (Try it from The Jerky Connection.)
- Caffeinated Jerky. Get a big kick out of this one, it’s spiked with Guarana which has twice as much caffeine as coffee. (Try the Perky Jerky brand.)
Help a Kid in Need on National Jerky Day
A few years ago, the beef and dairy community in Texas combined their efforts with some charities to provide needy school kids with protein snacks for the weekends, when they otherwise might not get a healthy diet. Now, more than thousands of kids receive food bags for the weekend that include delicious and healthy jerky. Specifically, SP4K Beef Sticks is offered by Clint and Sons, a meat company that provides a buy one, get one scheme: for every beef stick purchased, another one is given to a hungry child.