Are you a beef jerky lover but curious why it is so expensive? Reading this article should satisfy your curiosity.
Starting this article is a detailed explanation of this meat snack. Then, I will provide several reasons that contribute to its hefty price tag.
Following that, we will discuss the steps and ingredients needed to make homemade meat jerky.
Finally, I will include an FAQ section, answering some of the questions people mostly ask about this snack.
What Is Beef Jerky
Beef jerky is a tasty snack made from thinly sliced, lean cuts of beef that have been dried to remove moisture. Furthermore, it is chewy, has a slightly tough texture, and is known for its intense flavor, high protein, and long shelf life.
Its intense flavor often combines savory, smoky, and salty applications. Moreover, the drying process of the snack concentrates the flavors, giving it a distinct taste.
That said, meat jerky is a popular snack option for outdoor activities and travel. It can also serve as a protein-packed snack for on-the-go.
Additionally, it can be enjoyed as a standalone snack or applied to various dishes. For instance, it can be added to sandwiches and salads to provide a protein-rich element.
Besides, this meat snack comes in different flavors, including teriyaki, peppered, spicy, and more.
When you put a piece of the snack into your mouth, it will feel dry. However, upon chewing it, it will rehydrate and assume the feel of eating regular beef.
Overall, beef jerky is a widely loved snack with a unique texture and satisfying flavor. Due to that, it is a popular choice for meat enthusiasts and snack lovers.
Why Is Beef Jerky Pricey
Many people consider jerky a pricier snack compared to other food options. Various factors contribute to the increased cost of the snack.
Here are a couple of reasons meat jerky tends to be more expensive.
1. Meat Quality
This meat snack is generally made from lean cuts of meat, such as top round or flank steak. These cuts have less fat, resulting in a healthier and higher-quality product.
However, lean cuts of meat are typically more expensive than fattier ones because of their tenderness and better marbling. The tenderness and better marbling of the meat contribute to the higher cost of beef jerky.
2. Meat Quantity
Approximately, meat is about 60% water. So, due to the drying process of making meat jerky, the weight and moisture content of the meat reduces significantly.
Therefore, a larger quantity of raw meat is needed to produce a smaller quantity of jerky. For example, several pounds of raw meat may be required to get a pound of beef jerky.
Specifically, it could take about 2.5 Lbs of quality meat to make 1 Lb of jerky.
This reduction in weight during the drying process adds to the higher price of the snack.
3. Labor And Production Time
Making beef jerky involves several labor-intensive tasks and time-intensive processes. These include slicing the meat into thin strips, ensuring uniformity, and marinating the meat.
It also involves arranging the meat on drying racks, monitoring the drying process to ensure quality, and packaging the final product. The marination process alone can take several hours, allowing the flavors to penetrate the meat.
The drying process can also take additional hours or even days. However, that depends on the desired level of dryness and the method used.
The labor and time required for each process of producing this meat snack add to its production cost. Therefore, making it relatively pricey.
4. High-Quality Ingredients
Beef jerky is known for its distinct flavors, achieved through various high-quality ingredients. These include seasonings, spices, and flavorings.
Using premium ingredients can significantly increase costs, especially specialty or gourmet ingredients. However, these high-quality ingredients enhance the jerky’s flavor and overall quality.
5. Supply And Demand
The demand for this meat snack has remained consistently high. However, the supply of high-quality beef jerky may be limited.
This is particularly true because specific cuts or grades of beef are preferred for jerky production. Due to market dynamics, this limited supply and high demand drive up the price of jerky.
How To Make An Homemade Beef Jerky
Below are the ingredients and steps typically involved in making homemade meat jerky.
- 2 pounds of lean cuts of meat (such as top round or flank steak)
- 1/2 cup of soy sauce
- 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce
- Two tablespoons of brown sugar or honey
- One tablespoon of garlic powder
- Two tablespoons of liquid paprika
- One tablespoon of garlic powder
- One teaspoon of black pepper
- Optional additional seasonings or spices of your choice for added flavor
Step 1: Prepare The Meat
Select the meat and remove any visible fat. Then, put the meat in the freezer for about 1 hour to partially freeze it.
That will make it easier to slice it into thin strips.
Step 2: Slice The Meat
Once partially frozen, remove the meat from the freezer, then slice it into thin strips. Each strip should be about 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick, as they will dry faster and be chewy.
Step 3: Prepare The Marinade
Mix a bowl of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper. You can also add any other seasonings or spices of your choice.
Then, stir everything together thoroughly to ensure all ingredients are well combined. However, ensure the sugar is dissolved before you stop to stir.
Step 4: Marinate The Meat
Put the meat strips into a sealable plastic bag or a shallow dish. Then, pour the marinade over the meat strips, ensuring each strip is coated.
Then, cover the dish or seal the bag and refrigerate for at least twelve hours or overnight. That will allow the ingredients to penetrate the meat strips and ensure they are evenly marinated.
Step 5: Preheat The Oven Or Prepare A Dehydrator
Preheat your oven to the lowest, which is around 170°F or 75°C. If you use a food dehydrator, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for preheating.
Step 6: Drain And Dry The Meat
Remove the meat strips from the marinade, then let them drain briefly. Afterward, dry with paper towels to remove excess marinade.
Otherwise, it can slow down the drying process.
Step 7: Arrange The Meat On Racks Or Trays
Place the meat strips on wire racks or dehydrator trays in a single layer. Ensure they are not touching each other to allow proper air circulation during drying.
Step 8: Dry The Meat
If using an oven, put the rack(s) of meat strips on baking sheets, then put them in the preheated oven. Following that, prop the oven door open slightly, allowing moisture to escape.
If you’re using a dehydrator, place the tray(s) of meat strips inside the dehydrator. Then, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time and temperature.
Dry the meat strips for several hours, typically 3 – 4 hours, or until it reaches your desired dryness level. Also, flip the strips once or twice during the drying process to ensure even drying.
Step 9: Check For Doneness
To test if the beef jerky is ready, remove a piece from the oven or dehydrator and let it cool. If it is done, it should be dry, leather-like in appearance, and chewy but still flexible.
However, if it snaps easily, it may be over-dried.
Step 10: Cool And Store
Once the beef jerky is dried and ready, remove it from the oven or dehydrator and let it cool completely. Then, dry them again with paper towels to remove any remaining moisture.
Subsequently, store the jerky in airtight containers or Ziploc bags at room temperature. Properly stored, it can last for a couple of weeks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Jerky can be a nutritious snack option. It is high in protein, low in fat, and generally free from artificial additives.
However, checking the nutrition label and choosing options with minimal sodium content and without excessive added preservatives is essential.
This meat snack can be a suitable snack for low-carb or keto diets. It is low in carbohydrates but high in protein.
Therefore, making it a convenient option for those following dietary plans.
The shelf life of this meat snack can vary depending on the ingredients used, the drying process, and storage conditions. Generally, homemade beef jerky can last a few weeks when stored in airtight containers at room temperature.
However, commercially packaged beef jerky often has a longer shelf life.
Yes, you can make jerky with a dehydrator.
Beef jerky is expensive for several reasons. These include meat quality and quantity, labor and production time, and high-quality ingredients.
Beef jerky is often considered an expensive snack due to several factors. However, some significant factors include the quality of meat used and the production process.
Despite its higher price, this meat snack offers unique qualities such as longer shelf life and high protein. As a result, it is an appealing snack option for many consumers.
Gladly, this guide provided the steps and ingredients for making homemade jerky.
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References And Further Reading
- karlfamilyfarms.com – Why Is Beef Jerky So Expensive?
- mountainamericajerky.com – Why Is Beef Jerky So Expensive?
- peopleschoicebeefjerky.com – WHY IS BEEF JERKY SO DANG EXPENSIVE?
- foodbeast.com – This Is Exactly Why Beef Jerky Is So Freakin’ Expensive
- thecoldwire.com – Why Is Beef Jerky So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
- topnotchjerky.com – Why Beef Jerky Is So Expensive (And Why You Should Buy It Anyway)
- en.wikipedia.org – Jerky
- beefitswhatsfordinner.com – EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BEEF JERKY
- beefjerky.com – What Is Beef Jerky?
- britishbeefjerky.co.uk – What is Beef Jerky?
- onceuponachef.com – The Best Homemade Beef Jerky Recipe