Buffalo Bob’s Jerky

You came here for the the other “jerky”? No problem.

Buffalo Bob’s Snacks is produced by Zick’s Specialty Meats. Buffalo Bob’s Snacks is the culmination of over 40 years experience in Old World sausage and meat preparation techniques that have been passed down through the Zick family for generations. Zick’s started as a small specialty store and butcher shop in St. Joseph, Michigan. With the knowledge of Old World sausage makers that was brought over from the traditional European sausage and meat preparation techniques to the predominantly German population in the area. The taste of old Europe was a great success in St. Joseph and surrounding areas and the demand for sausages grew. The trade secrets for Buffalo Bob’s Snacks have been kept and expanded upon to create remarkably tasty and healthy snack products. The unique taste is assured because of the commitment to using only the highest quality ingredients with no fillers or extenders for Buffalo Bob’s Snacks. We trust you’ll enjoy your taste adventure into the world of Buffalo Bob’s and will share the treat with all of your friends.

Beef Jerky

From the Quechua word “ch’arki,” which means dried and salted meat, beef jerky is a popular, ready-to-eat, and convenient snack food, that is relatively easy to prepare. Usually made from lean beef meat that has been trimmed and cut into strips, jerky is dried thoroughly usually under a low-temperature method in order to prevent the development of any bacterial growth which causes it to spoil. To further inhibit the growth of bacteria, salt is added before the meat fully dehydrates.

Today, modern ways to manufacture jerky involves marinating, usually a seasoned dry spice or liquid seasoning which is rub generously all over the meat. And even during rainy or winter time, wherein the sun can fully dehydrate the meat, jerky can still be prepared. It can be smoked with low heat preferably under 70 °C/160 °F. Brown sugar which not only enhances the flavor to the meat but also prevent it from spoiling is added in most store-bought jerky.

When done properly, beef jerky can be stored longer even without refrigeration. The content of moisture can greatly affect the shelf life of the jerky thus, proper protein to moisture content should be observed during its curing period. Products that contain more fat must meet the standard of 0.75 to 1 moisture to protein ratio. In some cases, chemicals are added to prevent oxidative spoilage. However, the right moisture to protein ratio can effectively stop microbial spoilage.

How to prepare Jerky

The meat can depend on your choice and availability. It can come from beef, pork, lamb, deer, kudu, kangaroo, bison and what-have-you. Over the years, some enterprising and daring people started making jerky out of turkey, ostrich, salmon, alligator, tuna, emu, horse, camel and even earthworm.

Whatever the meat you choose, the basic remains, it has to be cleaned carefully, trimmed from fat as much as possible, add salt and/or marinade, and must be dried quickly without using high temperature as this might cause the meat to be cooked. To do this, the meat has to be sliced thinly before dehydrating it. Different meat can have different drying time and temperature.

Large scale jerky manufacturing plant uses huge low-temp drying kilns. They are also equipped with heater elements and fans which remove the moisture inside the oven. The fast moving air and the oven’s low heat temperature causes the meat to dry up at the desired moisture content and texture.

Raw and marinated meats are cut thinly or into smaller strips. They are then placed evenly on a nylon-coated metal screens sprayed with vegetable oil preventing it from sticking to the screens. On a rolling cart, the trays are then put inside the oven and allow it to be dehydrated. In some cases, a combo of salt and sodium nitrate is utilized in order to further prolong the shelf life of the jerky. Sodium nitrate is a chemical preservative usually used in foods to prolong their storage life.

Aside from the traditional way of making jerky, beef jerky or any jerky can also be achieved by smoking the marinated meat. This method or the smoke will give a distinct smoky flavor to the dried meat while preserving the flavor and at the same time dries the meat thoroughly. In other areas, salting the meat to preserve the meat and improve the flavor is still being used.

Once the desired doneness and texture of the meat is achieved, the jerky is cooled before placing it on a plastic bag that is either vacuumed sealed or flushed with nitrogen. Small pouches of oxygen absorber are also added to these bags in order to prevent oxidation of the fat, even in sealed packages. Jerky is also a bit pricey as compared to less-dried form of meat. This is because a third of the original weight of the meat will remain once it is dried.

In other countries, like in Hong Kong and Macau, specialty stores sell unpackaged fresh jerky from sliced and whole muscle. Bought by the kilos, customers can choose from the different types of meat that they have made into jerky. Some of these stores offer these meats in strands and not in slices. The downside of this product though is, it has a shorter shelf life and customers are often encouraged to consume or use the jerky immediately.

Traditional jerky made from different meats are readily available in the US, Mexico and Canada. These countries are known to have regarded jerky as food of the pioneers. These products are often sold in convenience stores, gas stations, groceries, supermarkets and shops.   

Some shops offer a similar less expensive version of the jerky, usually made from finely ground meat, added with enhancers and flavorings, and the mush is processed to form dried strips. Another form of jerky that is increasingly becoming popular is meat floss. This product comes from the dry shredded jerky and looks like a snuff or dip. Aside from the North American Region, jerky gained popularity in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Germany. Major supermarkets, convenience stores and online retailers carry jerky and display them on their rack or shelf.

In China, pork chip is equally popular like our beef jerky. This product is almost similar to the traditional beef jerky. In Italy, they also have coppiette, traditionally made from either horse or donkey. Today, it resembles that of the Chinese pork chip as coppiette today is made from pork and eaten while drinking wine. South Africa’s biltong and Ethiopia’s qwant’a looks like the traditional beef jerky but may differ in production and preparation. In the US, jerky like those found in Hong Kong and Macau are known as slab jerky and are usually showcased in plexiglass containers.

Due to its longer shelf life, light weight, high level of nutrition and easy to consume, jerky is one of the staples in the military. It even made into the outer space in 1996, as the astronauts choose it as one of their space foods.

US Regulation

The production of fresh meat and dried meat, and the laws that regulate it differ from one country to another.  One country may be stricter than the other, but one thing is for sure, these regulations are for our safety and the wholesome production of jerky. In the United States, the country’s Department of Agriculture (USDA), oversees the production and manufacturing of jerky. The USDA requires plants to heat poultry jerky to an internal temperature that is acceptable and safe. This is usually at 160 °F for uncured poultry or 155 °F for cured poultry.

In most parts of Europe, meat products including jerky are barred from entering the region without presenting any custom documentation. Inspections of meat products including jerky is also done before they allow the product to enter. 

Nutritional Facts

Your 30 grams of fresh jerky has 10-15 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, and up to 3 grams of carbohydrates. Some beef jerky have more than 65% protein content. And because of the salt that is being used in curing the meat, people especially those with health issues most know that a 30 gram of jerky can contain up to 600 mg of sodium. Now, that is 30% of an individual’s RDA. So, before going on a jerky binge, consult your physician or consume moderately.