Jerky Facts

19 Beef Jerky Questions You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask

There’s no such thing as a stupid question when it comes to beef jerky! We created this list to answer all the beef jerky questions you were too embarrassed to ask.

What is beef jerky?

Jerky is a nutrient-dense meat snack that has been cooked and dehydrated so that it becomes shelf-stable. It does not require refrigeration or special handling. By removing the moisture from the meat, beef jerky can survive long periods of time without spoiling. Because of this, jerky is an excellent on-the-go snack and has been enjoyed for centuries.  

What is beef jerky made of? 

Beef jerky is made with thin strips of whole-muscle meat or ground and formed meat.

How is beef jerky made?

There are five steps of the jerky making process: slicing, marinating, laying, cooking, and packaging. Beef jerky is best made by hand. This allows for a greater attention to detail. This attention to detail translates into better-quality, better-tasting, and better-for-you jerky. We like to think a little time and energy and handmade touch makes for the best jerky.

Learn more about How Beef Jerky is Made

What animal is beef jerky made of?

Beef jerky is made from beef. Beef is the culinary name that is used for meat from bovines, or in layman’s terms, cow. While beef jerky is made from the meat from a cow, jerky can be made from a variety of animals and protein sources. There’s pork jerky, chicken jerky, and turkey jerky.

Learn more about the different types of jerky by reading The Complete Guide of Surprising Jerky Types You Never Knew Existed.

Is beef jerky raw?

Beef jerky is 100% cooked and requires no additional preparation, cooking, or special handling. By definition, beef jerky is shelf-stable which means that it is ready to eat as is. That’s why it’s a fan favorite of pioneers, outdoor enthusiasts, moms, and gym fanatics. 

Does beef jerky need to be refrigerated?

Commercial beef jerky is 100% shelf-stable which means that it does not require refrigeration when kept unopened. Some jerky producers require refrigeration after opening a package to prevent molding. Our jerky is drier than most jerky products in the market, so they do not require refrigeration.

Learn more about jerky refrigeration by reading The Guide to Jerky Refrigeration.

How long is beef jerky good for?

The average shelf life of jerky is around 1 year from the date of production. We recommend enjoying beef jerky within 6 months to ensure freshness, but the product is guaranteed for up to 1 year.

Learn more about how long beef jerky lasts by reading our article Does Beef Jerky Go Bad.

Does beef jerky expire?

Commercial beef jerky is labelled with a best-by date. Despite what you might think, beef jerky does not expire in the sense that it spoils and is unsafe to eat. It does eventually dry out and become less appetizing. 

Where does beef jerky come from?

Beef jerky celebrates a rich tradition and heritage and can be found all over the word. The process of dehydrating fruits and meats is one of the oldest methods of food preservation.  The extraction of moisture from a food increases nutritional density while decreasing the rate of spoilage. When done correctly, the final product is a nutrient packed, portable, and shelf stable foodstuff that keeps for an extended period of time - an essential feature during the pre-refrigeration age. For all the reasons modern mankind enjoys beef jerky so too did ancient civilizations. 

Who invented beef jerky?

Earliest archeological records indicate that the Ancient Egyptians preserved different meat and produce items by leaving them out in the sun to dry. Various Native American groups in North America combined mixed berries, fat, and ground meat to make concentrated small cakes known as pemmican. Cowboys, called “cow hunters” in the 1820s, carried jerky or salted beef when they were moving cattle. “It referred to sun-dried meat. You’d slaughter the animal – cattle, bison, deer, elk, or antelope – and strip or jerk the meat,” explains Don Reeves, an anthropologist and McCasland Chair of Cowboy Culture at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

When was beef jerky invented?

Modern beef jerky as we know it dates back to the 1500s when Spanish Conquistadors discovered the Quechua of South American dehydrating meat for later consumption. It can be safely assumed that jerky had started much earlier than this, but the 1500s are the earliest historical record of what we would consider jerky today.  

Why is beef jerky called jerky?

The word “jerky” can be traced back to the South America and the Quchuan word “ch’arki.” Over time, the Quechuan word evolved into jerky. Contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with the word “jerk” or how the beef is processed into jerky.

Is beef jerky gluten-free?

Beef jerky, in its simplest form, is nothing more than dehydrated meat with salt. When produced without the addition of any gluten-based ingredients, beef jerky can be 100% gluten-free. Make sure to read the ingredient label to make sure that there are no gluten ingredients in your jerky. One of the most popular wheat-based ingredients in beef jerky is soy sauce. We have some products that are gluten-free and some that are not. 

Click here to view all of our gluten-free products.

Is beef jerky keto?

Yes, when beef jerky is keto when it is made without any added sugar or carbohydrates. There are many options out there when it comes to beef jerky and the keto diet. The key is to find a jerky option that is free from any added carbohydrates and sugar. Some jerky brands will call themselves keto, but actually have 1-3g of carbohydrates per serving. 

Click here to view all of our keto beef jerky options.

Is beef jerky good for you?

Beef jerky can be a healthy and nutritious snack that is high in protein, low in carbs, and low in fat. It’s an ideal option for diets such as low carb, paleo, and Keto. Be careful, though, as not all brands are created equal, and some can be filled with artificial ingredients and hidden sugars. Choose a jerky that’s made with simple ingredients and minimally processed. The more natural the better.

Read our full Guide on Beef Jerky Nutrition

Can dogs eat beef jerky?

We recommend erring on the side of caution. We do not recommend feeding your dog beef jerky made for human consumption. Instead, we suggest sharing high quality, domestic beef jerky treats that are made specifically for pets. Make sure to clearly read the label and ingredients. We recommend purchasing high quality, USA-made treats that have been formulated for dogs.

Why is beef jerky so expensive?

Beef jerky is expensive because of the dehydration process. It takes about three pounds of raw beef to create one pound of beef jerky.

Learn more in our Complete Guide to Why Beef Jerky is Expensive

What does beef jerky taste like?

Beef jerky tastes like salty, dried beef (which is exactly what it is). There’s really only one way to find out. Check out our range of all-natural, high protein, flavorful beef jerky.

Why is beef jerky so good?

Healthy, convenient, portable, and tasty, beef jerky can’t be beat!

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