From the neolithic caveman to the cowboy on the range, jerky has been a staple way of preserving food. Prior to the invention of refrigerators, the main methods of preservation were smoking, or dehydration - removing all the water and placing it in salt or other spices. Drying removes the moisture from the meat and it should last for many years if properly stored. As well as preserving the food, the salt and spices also contributed to the flavour. I make a range of tasty medieval style snacks preserved in this and other ways.
My impetus for making dried food is that because after 9 years of reenactments I did not want to eat jacket potatoes and burgers at shows and events in the evenings when that was all that was on offer - I wanted something healthy and tasty that I could snack on and so I started making beef jerky. Friends liked it, and I recently started selling jerky at events which has proved very popular. As a reenactor I found it a handy talking tool to interact with the public who were always interested in what was in my pouch, and showed great interest in the jerky...
For anyone on a high protein diet, outdoor sportspeople looking for a healthy natural snack, or anyone looking for health conscious fast food, jerky is tasty and lush. Unlike much imported jerky which contains excessive sugar, salt and other preservatives, ours does not. We rely instead on the process of dehydration which negates the need for extra preservatives, and it also helps to retain all the natural flavour and nutrients.
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