The 12th of June is National Jerky Day, which is cause for celebration among meat aficionados everywhere. National Jerky Day endeavours to celebrate one of the most successful methods of meat preservation — the curing and drying of meat — which has been practised for centuries and across cultures. Essentially, jerky can refer to any cut-up, dehydrated, and cured meat (alligator, kangaroo, etc.). Some variants contain added flavours, while others are smoked. In either case, jerky is a cuisine that is gaining popularity as people become aware of its practical (and healthful) benefits.
The background of National Jerky Day
National Jerky Day was established in 2012 by Jack Link’s Beef Jerky and the Wisconsin Beef Council, two prominent beef companies. The intention was not only to increase sales, but also to recognise the expanding popularity of dried meat snacks worldwide. Some consumer surveys indicate that the demand for meat treats is now second only to that of potato chips; therefore, jerky deserves a day of its own!
Consider any hunter-gatherer or nomadic community throughout history, and dried flesh immediately comes to mind as the main component of their diets. Consequently, methods for curing and dehydrating meat have existed for centuries. It is the finest method for preserving meat, reducing its size, and transporting it on the go. The word ‘jerky’ derives from the ancient Incan language Quechua, where the term ‘ch’arki’ referred to ‘dried, salted beef’. As soon as the Spanish arrived in South America, they altered the word to ‘charqui,’ which was later anglicised into ‘jerky.’ The invention of beef jerky is now commonly attributed to South America in the 1800s; however, variations of jerky have been invented throughout history and by various groups of people. Many Native American tribes, for instance, created their own jerky from buffalo meat. This was combined with preserved fruits and suet (hard beef fat) to create a food known as pemmican. This is ideal for travel because it is both nutritious and portable.
Today, there is a massive market for jerky in its various forms throughout the globe. A glimpse into any meat-eating culture may reveal various methods of producing dried meat, but ultimately, they are all forms of jerky. Every petrol station, supermarket and convenience store in the United States carries jerky, elevating the snacking experience to a new level.
5 VERSIONS OF JERKY FROM AROUND THE WORLD
This version is made by Native American nations and contains dried meat, fats, and berries.
Pairs of Italian meat skewers are seasoned with salt, fennel, and red pepper flakes before being dried over an open fire.
The Ethiopian version, in which meat segments are seasoned with salt, black pepper, and a Berbere spice blend.
Popular in Nigeria and Niger are beef slices marinated in a peanut, onion, and spice sauce and then dried.
A South African beef jerky whose name derives from the Dutch words for ‘rump’ and ‘tongue’; a vinegared jerky.
NATIONAL JERKY DAY DATES