Do you enjoy a spicy, chewy treat? You will love beef jerky. Beef jerky is a delicious, nutritional, and portable treat. And just so you won’t be bored with it, beef jerky is available in a variety of types, all distinguishable by flavor, source, texture, and nutritional type. You’re sure to find a few that you like.
Understanding Beef Jerky
When people first started making jerky is hard to nail down. Some say that it was first discovered with native tribes of South Americans, while others say that it dates back to ancient Egypt. So, enough to say that the practice of marinating and curing choice cuts of beef has been with us a long while. At first, it was undoubtedly a method of preserving meat through the winters when hunting was difficult. It was also a way of carrying around the high protein source without the need for refrigeration.
Beef jerky is tasty, versatile, and becoming broadly popular. Today, it’s available in dozens of flavor blends and satisfying textures. There’s something for everyone. What’s really great about jerky is that, at its best quality, it is without nitrates, additives, or fillers.
Let’s have a look at all the types of beef jerky available to you. The types are broken down into textures, nutritional types, forms, and protein sources.
Textures of Beef Jerky
Not everyone enjoys the same texture of jerky. Historically, it has been dry, tough, and leathery. And while people like that, some don’t. New methods of processing jerky, along with new ingredients, have given us a more varied selection of jerky. For instance, softer jerky comes from introducing vinegar, sugar, and other ingredients to the marinate. Here are a few available in different textures.
Soft Beef Jerky
We know, to some people, soft beef jerky is a sacrilege. But why should you tough jerky lovers get all the fun? From the early 2000s, soft jerky has been drawing in new people and making them jerky lovers. Soft beef jerky is often made with more gourmet flavors than its traditional counterparts.
Old Fashioned Beef Jerky
Old fashioned beef jerky is dry and tough to chew, but more of its flavor is released as you chew. Old fashioned beef jerky may even be called cowboy jerky, just to emphasize its traditional nature.
Nutrition Types of Beef Jerky
Beef jerky is full of protein and other nutrients. Depending on the ingredients used, jerky can become tailored to the diets and dietary sensitivities of the consumer.
Low Sodium Beef Jerky
Salt is a natural preservative that's used in the making of jerky. So it may seem off-limits to people who are sensitive to sodium in their diets. But now we have low-sodium beef jerky.
Sugar-Free Beef Jerky
With the popularity of the keto diet and other low-carb diets, sugar-free beef jerky is a hit. Jerky can now make a great snack without the carbs or sugar many people don’t want.
Gluten-Free Beef Jerky
More and more people are finding they’re allergic to gluten. So, jerky producers are making more kinds that are gluten-free. How does jerky even have gluten, you ask? Most jerky is made with soy sauce, which contains gluten. So check the ingredient list.
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Beef Jerky Forms
Beef jerky comes in two primary forms - whole muscle and chopped & formed.
Chopped & Formed Beef Jerky
Chopped & Formed beef jerky can also be called Restructured beef jerky. This jerky is made from chopped-up pieces of beef. The pieces are then reformed into strips for jerky. This form has been known as the lesser quality product because the pieces of meat were cheaper cuts with artificial binders. But now, it’s possible to make the form of jerky using higher quality meat and more natural additives.
Whole muscle jerky is made from solid strips of meat. Producers begin with a large cut of beef and reduce it to smaller pieces to be marinated, cooked, dried, and then packaged. This is the most common form of jerky in stores.
Protein Sources for Beef Jerky
Most people today want to know where their meat comes from and what it’s been fed. The quality of the jerky can depend, in part, on these factors.
The term grass-fed refers to cattle that get to eat grass. It doesn’t necessarily mean exclusively fed on grass. Their feed may have been supplemented with added grain. If you want only grass-fed meat, look for 100% grass-fed or Grass Finished.
Grass-finished means that the cattle have been fed only grass for their whole lives, right up to the time before slaughter.
Most cattle in the US have started their lives eating grass but later were fed corn or grain. Corn feeding bulks cattle up and increases their fat to muscle ratio, not to mention adding sweet, buttery flavor. Unless the label on your jerky says otherwise, the beef was fed corn.
Organic seems to be the holy grail of high-quality meat. When your jerky is made from beef that has been USDA certified organic, it means that it has been raised in natural conditions and has never been fed hormones or antibiotics. If this is important to you, read the label on your jerky.
Flavors of Beef Jerky
Along with the many types of beef jerky, you can also enjoy a variety of flavors.
Spicy Flavors of Beef Jerky
The spicy flavors of beef jerky range from mildly spicy to mouth-on-fire spicy. If you’re sensitive or don’t enjoy spicy foods, make sure you read the labels. The spicy-ness comes from chili peppers, like cayenne, jalapeno, chipotle, and habanero. There are even jerkies made with some of the hottest peppers in the world.
Mild Flavors of Beef Jerky
Mild flavors of beef jerky have broad appeal and are likely similar to jerky’s original flavors. Mild jerky is flavored with cracked black pepper.
Sweet Flavors of Beef Jerky
Depending on the degree of your sweet tooth, you’re likely to find a sweet jerky that you love. Sugar is a common ingredient in jerk marinade because it adds texture and weight to the final product. But added sugars like brown sugar, honey, corn syrup, and cane sugar will make it a yummy treat.
Beef jerky has come a long way since it was carried on horseback by cowboys. You can find a type and flavor for every taste.
Are you looking for high-quality meat products? Our jerky is delicious and we focus on one-of-a-kind flavor experiences. Check us out at Two Chicks Jerky to learn more.