As jerky is relatively new to the UK market, some of us out there are still no wiser as to what it is. It’s meat, but why does it not go in the fridge? How can it last so long in a plastic bag? Is it actually good for us or is it just some strange snack that only Americans enjoy?
Let us answer some of your burning questions, and we’ll explain a little bit about the craft of making jerky.
At Wild West, we use the silverside cut of beef, fillets of salmon and chicken breast in our jerky. The protein comes onto our site and our butchers will trim any excess fat off. As soon as all the fat is away, our butchers send the protein through a slicing machine that cuts the meat into the perfect sized slice for cooking. If the slice is too thin, it will cook too quickly and will be hard and brittle, if the slice is too thick it won’t cook properly. It’s an art that our butchers have down.
In the meantime, we make a marinade using ingredients including garlic, onion and other herbs and spices. We have specially trained personnel on site who weigh, sieve and mix all our ingredients. It’s a difficult job, the mixer has to ensure that the ingredients are all weighed correctly, otherwise, we will have inconsistencies in our batches.
The Marinating Process
The mixers then blend the marinade into the sliced meat and the batch is left to marinate for 24 hours in a chill.
After the batch has been marinating for 24 hours, we gently lay each piece on a big tray that goes into a rack in our ovens. This is a painstaking process as each slice has to be laid out perfectly by hand. We cannot have any slices overlapping, folded up or twisted as they won’t cook through properly. Once the slices are laid out perfectly on the large trays, we put the trays into the oven. The batches cook in the oven for 4 hours on a low heat.
Once we are happy with the quality of our jerky and run some other safety tests on it, the meat is ready to come out of the oven. Voila, we have jerky!
Why does it not have to be kept in the fridge?
It’s still cooked meat, right? We have to keep cooked meat in the fridge at home?
Our cooking process pasteurises the meat, meaning it kills any pathogenic bacteria. We then put the pasteurised jerky into sealed packaging along with an oxygen absorber. The oxygen absorber stops any air or moisture from getting into the sealed bag, making the bag and meat an uninhabitable place for bacteria (pathogenic bacteria needs air and moisture). As soon as you buy a bag of jerky and break the seal in the packet, air then gets in the bag. After this point, we recommend you eat the jerky in 3 days. However, if you buy a packet of jerky and don’t open it, you can leave it in your kitchen cupboard for 12 to 18 months.
Is it actually good for us?
It depends what you are looking for in your food. If you’re looking for a snack that is low in calories, low in carbohydrates and high in protein, jerky would be a great option for you!
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