Beef jerky is a popular snack and is considered a special treat by many people. If you're a fan of beef jerky too, you may be curious what goes on behind the scenes to produce the delicious jerky you've come to love and savor. You've come to the right place, because that's exactly what we'll cover in this post!
So how is beef jerky made?
Beef jerky is made by slicing thin cuts of meat, treating the meat with various marinades and seasonings, cooking and dehydrating the meat, and packaging the resulting beef jerky in vacuum-sealed packaging.
That's the process in a nutshell. There's a lot more that goes into making a delicious batch of beef jerky, such as Stoltzfus Meats' premium beef jerky.
How Beef Jerky Is Made
While the process of making beef jerky is time consuming (when done properly), the general steps involved are fairly simple.
1) Cutting Thin Slices Of Beef
First of all, beef jerky is made from beef – specifically beef round or beef sirloin. After beef has been selected for use, it is cut into thin slices following the grain of the meat. Then, the beef slices are trimmed of any undesired pieces or fats.
Before moving on to the next step, there is usual some sort of quality control step to ensure that beef slices are properly prepared.
2) Marinating & Seasoning The Beef Slices
After beef has been cut into thin slices and trimmed, it is then marinated in either a sweet or salty solution to obtain beef jerky's signature flavor. This is one of the most pivotal parts of the jerky production process, since this is where the jerky's unique flavor is determined.
Stoltzfus Meats uses an all-natural, slow-heating method to marinate beef. Marinating beef in this manner ensures that beef's natural beef flavor is preserved and enhances beef's taste, while also preventing loss of the beef's moisture content.
3) Cooking & Dehydrating The Beef
After beef has been marinated, the now-seasoned beef is cooked, typically to 160 degrees Fahrenheit per USDA's recommendation(1) to remove the beef's moisture content and to make it safer to store before it is consumed.
Also, this step of beef jerky production varies depending on the desired result for that batch of beef jerky. For beef jerky that is dried for longer periods of time, beef slices are cooked at lower temperatures for a longer period of time. This preserves beef's beefy flavor and results in beef jerky with a chewier texture and darker appearance. On the other hand, beef jerky made from beef slices cooked at higher temperatures and/or for shorter periods of time has a softer texture and lighter color.
After beef jerky is cooked, beef slices are dehydrated in order to remove more of the beef's moisture content. This step of beef jerky production usually involves the use of fans or other methods that quickly dry beef.
4) Packaging And Shipping The Beef Jerky
Once beef jerky has been fully dehydrated, beef jerky pieces are weighed and vacuum-sealed in small packages to preserve the beef's flavor and freshness. Then it is packaged and shipped to individual customers or distributors of beef jerky that will then either distribute beef jerky locally or ship it out across the U.S.
What's Special About Stoltzfus Meats' Beef Jerky?
Here at Stoltzfus Meats, our high-protein beef jerky is seasoned and dried locally here in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
While some other companies chop up beef into very tiny pieces and then reform the pieces into square strips loaded with MSG, we do things differently. Because of our unique production process, the beef in our jerky maintains its natural shape and the original flavor of the beef is retained.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
What Animal Does Jerky Come From?
Beef jerky is the most popular form of jerky, and as the name suggests, it is made from beef (cow meat). Jerky can also be made from pork (from pigs, to make bacon jerky), deer (venison), or lamb. While much less common, jerky has also been made from the meat of fish, buffalo, alligators, kangaroo, and elk.
Is Beef Jerky Raw Meat Or Cooked?
Depending on the production process, beef jerky can be either raw or cooked beef. Some jerky is heated to 160 degrees Fahrenheit (thus cooked) before dehydrating the beef slices, while other jerky is simply dried at very low temperatures.
Can I Eat Beef Jerky While Pregnant?
Generally speaking, beef jerky that has been cooked or marinated at higher temperatures is safer to eat when pregnant, while beef jerky made without cooking or marinating processes may not be safe to eat.
Stoltzfus Meat's beef jerky is heated to temperatures of 160 degrees F during production. Many pregnant women enjoy snacking on our high-protein beef jerky, but we always recommend consulting with your physician if you have any questions about your diet during your pregnancy.