Beef jerky is a highly portable food available in an assortment of flavors, cuts, and textures. Its convenience and high protein content make it a favorite for an easy snack or a primary nutrition source on an outdoor adventure. Picking the right beef jery for you often comes down to basic preferences, but learning more about the preparation process, quality, and flavor can help narrow down selections to your personal flavor profile and needs.
Beef jerky creation
To create beef jerky, meat is sliced into thin pieces or otherwise shaped and then subjected to a low-heat dehydration process to lock in flavor while removing moisture. During the dehydration process, salt is used to help reduce bacteria and add a touch of flavor. Beef may be dehydrated without precooking, but it is also possible to dehydrate prepared meats to add an extra layer of protection. Prior to and during the cooking process, a variety of seasonings and ingredients can be added to maximize flavor and create a custom jerky blend.
Choosing your cut
For beef jerky fans, the cut of meat in the jerky can be a major decision maker. By necessity, jerky is largely lean meat as the presence of too much fat increases the possibility of spoilage due to bacteria. Most fat is trimmed from a cut before the dehydration process begins, but jerky is also generally pulled from cuts with minimal fat deposits. Common options include top round, bottom round, brisket, and flank steaks. Jerky made directly from thinly sliced strips of beef often features the best nutritional facts due to minimal processing when compared to more processed tube jerky.
Many round jerky products are not a single cut of meat shaped into a convenient circle. Instead, they are a hodge podge of random beef bits pressed out for the dehydration process. These options can still carry the protein punch of other jerky products and are often available in more concentrated flavors and styles due to the ease of adding spices and accents during the preparation phase.
Picking a flavor
The popularity of jerky has led to the creation of a wide assortment of flavor profiles. Purists can pick up jerky seasoned only with sea salt to tap into the flavor of the beef itself while the more adventurous can invest in sophisticated batches marinated in unique spice blends designed to tease the palate or replicate favorite flavors from other products, such as buffalo wings, teriyaki or hot peppers. A basic or familiar flavor can help new jerky eaters adjust to the chew and textures of jerky before moving on to more sophisticated pairings.
For more information on beef jerky, contact a supplier near you.