All you need to know about the History of Beef Jerky

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Beef jerky is undoubtedly one of the most sought after snacks out there. While people try to search about the right ingredients, cuts, and how it should be made, some even wonder from where this tasty delicacy originated and how!

Beef jerky is one of the most popular ways of preserving densely nutrient food and enjoying them for an extended period. It is a staple amongst various populations and can be carried around easily. 

This article presents to you the history of beef jerky in various places around the world.

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt is known to have documented the oldest evidence when it comes to beef jerky. Ancient Egyptians used to sundry large amounts of meat strips thousands of years ago. This was discovered when archaeologists found dried foods that were preserved in various tombs across Egypt. 

Beef jerky is known to be worth storing for extended amounts of time without insects inhabiting or manifesting. It also does not decay for a long time, and hence it used to be the perfect fitment when it comes to tombs.

South America

The term ‘jerky’ has been derived from the Quecha language. It is a native language in South America. The “Ch’arki’ which also means dried meat, was made meticulously by the Incan empire and happened to be an Andes Mountain Range product. 

It was made from all sorts of meat that included deboned and pounded meat, mostly extracted from the Llama and Alpaca. These used to be native to that particular region, and the people started domesticating these animals around the same time. The Spanish conquistadors also shared this dried meat delicacy at the same time. 

The explorers in this area were particularly impressed and blown by how the Ch’arki tasted, and they eventually took it back to the Western parts of Europe.

North America

The Native Americans used to conjure up a jerky type from fats, dried meat, and berries. They called it the ‘Pemmican.’ The Pemmican used to be a highly sought-after delicacy as its portability, combined with its longevity, made it an instant hit amongst the pioneers, explorers, and early settlers. The Pemmican is derived from a Cree word that means grease or fat. This particular delicacy went on to become a staple amongst various North American tribes.

The Pemmican used to be initially made from deer, moose, elk, or bison. The Pemmican makers also added Saskatoon berries, cranberries, cherries, and various blueberries to this delicacy. They added these only in the ones that were meant for weddings and ceremonies.

The Pemmican process is way different than other types of jerky. It could be consumed in its pure form, or it could also be made into a stew by adding water, wild onions, flour, and potatoes. The stew was called “rubaboo.” The third combination included frying the Pemmican alone or onions and potatoes, and it was called the “rechaud.”

Ancient Rome

The Italian version of jerky was called the “Coppiette.” It used to be made of Horse or Donkey and happened to be a dried meat stick. Poor farmers initially consumed it. The meat was derived from the hind legs of the animals. It was then cut into strips and smoked very slowly that resulted in tenderization. The farmers also used goats and sheep for this process and ensured that all parts of every animal were rightfully utilized.

The Coppiette comes from the Roman Castles, known as the Castelli Romani. This happens to be an area in the South East of Rome that comprises of small towns. The meat used to be seasoned with red pepper, fennel, and salt, which added a particular flavor. It was usually made in the winter months as the meat was tied into two parts. Hence, the Coppoette gets its other name – the ‘little couples’ – and used to be dried in front of a fireplace or a hearth for approximately sixty days.


The various dimensions of the beef jerky history reveal that people from multiple strata of society have been enjoying jerky for centuries. From the natives of South America to the ancient Egyptians, every segment of the world has its brand of jerky and stories to tell. 

Hopefully, this article will help you explore the various possibilities of making jerky in different tastes and flavors! 



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