Possibly the oldest method of preserving food, jerky is the meat of animals that has been prepared for long term storage by driving almost all moisture from it. Due to this method of preservation, the normal processes that would render meat inedible (bacterial growth, fungal contamination, and autolytic enzymatic reactions) are held at bay, serving to keep the food safe for consumption for an extended period of time. The drying techniques can be applied to almost anything, including meat (even fish), fruit, and some have even applied them to vegetable matter to create ‘vegetable jerky.’ While earlier cultures simply hung meat out to dry for storage, today we are able to apply many kinds of cures or flavorings to the meat before preservation, creating a range of jerky with different flavors and textures. There are also many variations on the theme and foods such as sausages and smoked meats were influenced by the techniques developed in the evolution of jerky production.
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