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Click for Recipes                                              A Brief History of Beef Jerky
                                                    See Below Story for Table of Contents to Jerky

Jerky was first introduced by the South American native tribe called the Quechua (originally part of the
ancient Inca empire) as early as 1550. They called it Ch'arki and it was pounded between stones before
being cooked. Of course the Spanish picked it up eventually and named it Charqui, which happens to be
an actual brand name of beef jerky from a South American company.

Another similar product called pemmican was developed by the North American Crete Indians. It involved
venison or BUFFALO meat that was slowly dried and pounded into powder. Wild cherries or other berries
along with equal amounts of hot fat were added to the powdered meat and placed in waterproof hide casings.
It is said that this product would last indefinitely. I wonder?

Different processes of making beef jerky have not changed throughout the centuries. Today, beef jerky is
still made by slicing thin slices of beef, venison, buffalo, trout, ostrich, etc. Marinating in spices and preserves
 (cure or salt) is still used and cooking very slowly at low temperatures is still part of the process as well.

The "pemmican" recipe is what we call "Kippered" today. It's a chopped and formed product, placed in a
casing and commonly confused with beef jerky.

There are many, many recipes for beef jerky. The Indians and early settlers made it primarily from deer
and buffalo using salt and whatever spices they had. The meat was then dried (cured) in the sun. Obviously, this
required a lot of salt to prevent spoilage and that was rough on the taste buds. Yours and mine can be a little
more palatable thanks to easier drying methods. Jerky can also be made from turkey and pork. But, due to
spoilage (poultry) and fat content (pork), you really have to be an expert to be safe. 

A favorite recipe for homemade jerky is shown below. The basics are the Worcestershire sauce, liquid
smoke, salt and brown sugar. All the other ingredients are a matter of taste. It is best to follow a recipe
fully the first time and then vary the ingredients to suit you taste, if necessary.