Jerky meat has been around for a long time. The word “jerky” itself comes from a word used by the Quechua, a South American tribe dating back to 1550, to describe their method of drying strips of salted fresh meat in order to preserve it. Their meat of choice was alpaca or llama.
Native Americas of the Midwestern plains perfected the art of salting and drying buffalo meat to make jerky to carry them over though the harsh winter months. Mountain men and gold miners did the same with venison jerky.
Fast forward to today. The love and desire for jerky has never been stronger. As more people take to hiking trails and backpacking adventures, they’ve discovered that jerky is a perfect lightweight, tasty and nutritious food to take along.
Beef has long been the favorite meat of choice for the numerous food companies that market packaged jerky.
Now there’s a new competitor edging into the jerky market: jerky made from bacon. Because of the bacon frenzy that’s been sweeping the nation for the last few years, it was only a matter of time before bacon and jerky would merge.
Because basic pork meat can contain parasites and worms, this is one meat that must be cooked during the jerky-making process. Other meat like beef can preserved by drying and dehydrating the salted raw meat strips without first going through the cooking process.
The best jerky is made from pigs that were not fed antibiotic supplements or soy feed. Jerky manufacturers also use only pork that has been deeply frozen for at least four weeks prior to using in order to destroy any potential pathogens.
Once the pork has been rendered into strips of bacon, the strips are cut in half to make it easier to eat and package.
Next comes a marinade bath for a minimum of four hours. This is the point where the meat absorbs the specific flavor for that particular run of jerky.
The bacon strips are then laid out onto commercial-size dehydrator trays. The strips are spaced apart to allow air movement to hit every surface area of the bacon. The standard cooking temperature ranges from 145-200 degrees and lasts for 8-12 hours to ensure the bacon is cooked through and through.
Jerky producers can regulate the crispness of the jerky by varying the cooking time. The longer the bacon dehydrates, the more fat will cook off making it crisper.
The flavors, cuts and style of bacon jerky offered on store display racks seem endless. Cured or uncured, thick or thin sliced, multiple flavors like maple, spicy sriracha, sweet honey, teriyaki and BBQ are all options designed to appeal to everyone’s appetite.