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 Iím 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 itís often not considered a health food. I consider it a fairly healthy snack though. Itís 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 donít want to give your jaw a workout thereís 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 itís 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 youíll 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 youíll get tens of thousands of "hits." Youíll have more recipes than youíll know what to do with.
Iíve made beef jerky at home with ground beef countless times. And although itís easy to make, itís an investment of time and patience. The ground beef and seasoning are mixed together (thatís 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. Thatís 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 youíre 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 Iíve 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 youíre looking jerky thatís made with something other than beef you have lots of choices too. Thereís 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 didnít sound good to me), alligator jerky (wasnít a fan of this kind either), crocodile (wouldnít try it since I didnít like the alligator jerky) kangaroo (havenít 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 havenít tried yet), Venison (it was okay but Iím not a fan of venison) and smoked Salmon (havenít tried this one yet but it sounds good).
Iíve also heard of people making their own trout jerky, goose jerky, and duck jerky. The choices seem nearly endless.
If youíre 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 1500ís. 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 thatís 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, itís hard to imagine what the next type of jerky will be. Could it be tofu jerky? Or has someone already made that kindÖ...
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