The History Of Jerky

No one knows the exactly where and when the drying of meat (jerky) began, however it is assumed that early humans found that dried meat lasted a much longer than fresh meat, and did not decay and become infested with insects like the storage of fresh meat. While the dawn of jerky is mysterious we have evidence that it was being produced en mass thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt and notably in the mid part of the last millennia. The word ‘jerky’ comes from the Native (South) American Quechua term “ch’arki” (which means “dried meat”), and was well received in Europe by the Spanish in the 1500’s when it was introduced during the early conquest of the Americas. Pemmican, a food made of dried meat, berries, and fat, is a variation of jerky made by Native (North) Americans as well, and was also greatly valued by explorers of the New World. Jerky’s popularity was rekindled during the expansion into North America where it was prized as a valuable source of nutrition by traders and explorers as they traveled areas without ready access to fresh supplies. Its light weight and longevity made it a superior food source as the world was tamed and settled.