Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Low Sodium Beef Jerky

low sodium beef jerky
Low sodium beef jerky is generally accepted to range from 0mg to 200mg per 1oz (28g) serving.

Beef naturally contains sodium, about 10.5mg per 1oz (28g) serving.  Therefore it's not possible to have completely sodium free beef jerky.

Below is a list of beef jerky brands with the lowest sodium content I have come across thus far, and I've evaluated about 1,000 beef jerky brands and flavors...

Beef Jerky

Strollo's Homemade Beef Jerky - Hot Garlic (65mg per 1oz) *
Strollo's Homemade Beef Jerky - Garlic (65mg per 1oz)
Blerky Beef Jerky - Blueberry (72mg per 1oz)
Carnivore Candy - Barbecue Mesquite (85mg per 1oz) **
Hickory's Best Beef Jerky - Hot (95mg per 1oz)
Joe's Beef Jerky - Regular (110mg per 1oz) ***
Carnivore Candy - Original Peppered (125mg per 1oz)
Joe's Beef Jerky - Hot (125mg per 1oz)
Jerky John's - Black Pepper (150mg per 1oz)
Jerky John's - Pacific Teriyaki (150mg per 1oz)
Jerky John's - American Original (160mg per 1oz)
Texas Best Beef Jerky - Hot & Spicy (160mg per 1oz)
Ju Ju Jerky - Original (170mg per 1oz)
Hickory's Best Beef Jerky - Old Fashioned (170mg per 1oz)
Jerky John's - Cayenne Hot (180mg per 1oz)
Jeff's Famous Jerky - Habanero Heatwave (180mg per 1oz)
KC's Old Style Beef Jerky - Hot & Spicy (180mg per 1oz)
KC's Old Style Beef Jerky - Peach BBQ (180mg per 1oz)
KC's Old Style Beef Jerky - Teriyaki (180mg per 1oz)
Omaha Steaks Beef Jerky - Original (190mg per 1oz)
Old Trapper Beef Jerky - Chipotle Carne Seca (190mg per 1oz)
New Braunfels Smokehouse - Jalapeno (190mg per 1oz)
New Braunfels Smokehouse - Peppered (190mg per 1oz)

Turkey Jerky

Perky Jerky - Turkey (110mg per 1oz)
Jerky John's Turkey Jerky (160mg per 1oz)

Pork Jerky

New Braunfels Smokehouse - Peppered Pork (170mg per 1oz)

* My second favorite choice for low sodium and good flavor & meat consistency
** My first favorite choice for low sodium and good flavor & meat consistency
*** This jerky is low sodium AND no sugar added (trace amounts still exist in the worcestershire)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

World's Hottest Beef Jerky

worlds hottest beef jerky
I'm often asked what's the hottest beef jerky I've ever had.

It's hard to pin down one particular brand because I've had so many, and it's hard to keep a memory of how hot each one was compared to the other.  My tolerance for heat has also increased, so what seemed to be really hot four years ago, doesn't seem to be so hot now.

Here's a list of the world's hottest beef jerky, according to what I've tried...

Ed's Roadhouse Jerky - Inferno Ghost Pepper Jerky w/Scorpion Bite - This jerky is primarily marinated and seasoned with Ghost Peppers, and is then dusted with powdered Scorpion Peppers.  These two chiles are regarding as the world's hottest.  After eating one piece of this jerky, I couldn't eat more.  It was that hot!

Ed's Roadhouse Jerky - Inferno Ghost Pepper Jerky - This is the same jerky as above, but without the Scorpion Pepper dusting.  It's still extremely hot!

Trailhead Beef Jerky - XXX Naga Jolokia - Dusted with the Naga Jolokia pepper (also known as Ghost Pepper), these orange-red coated pieces of meat seem deceptive, but will can cause permanent psychological damage to your tongue.

The Jerky Connection - Satan's Flaming Hemorrhoids - If this jerky is hot enough to make Satan's sphincter swell with discomfort, imagine how you could use this to keep your mother-in-law on the toilet all evening long.

Damn Good Jerky - Death by Jerky - They add straight pepper extract to this jerky to maximize the burn.  Keep a towel handy to wipe the sweat running down your neck.

Alien Fresh Jerky - Colon Cleaner Hot - With a name like "colon cleaner", it ought to be hot, and this certainly delivers on burn.  This might be what aliens use to clean out a colon before probing.

Settlers Jerky - Ring of Fire - Made with a combination of cayenne pepper and habanero pepper, this jerky is also covered thick with red pepper flakes, elevating the burn to a high level.  You'll be reaching for some Immodium to stop a ring of fire of another kind.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Beef Jerky vs Biltong: The Differences

Biltong is a form of dried meat, having its origins in South Africa. It's also very popular in Australia.

Beef Jerky is also a form of dried meat, having its origins in North and South America.

Both biltong and jerky were created for the same reasons, to preserve excesses of meat and as protein for long journeys.

To sum things up, both biltong and jerky are effectively the same things. However, biltong has a more specific recipe and process, whereas jerky is much more encompassing.

Jerky, in its most basic form, is simply dehydrated meat. It doesn't have to have any marinade, salt, or other seasonings. All it has to be is dried. Most jerky, however, is marinated in something, be it salt, vinegar, vegetable, or sugar solution, and then seasoned with one or more spices. Jerky can be dehydrated in a smoker, oven, dehydrator, sun dried, or air dried. I've seen them all.

Biltong, is specifically air dried, hung from hooks, and usually dried anywhere from 3-7 days. It's also specifically doused (not marinated) in vinegar, and rubbed with salt. Biltong is commonly seasoned with coriander seed, but may also include other spices. The air drying process lasting from 3-7 days creates an aging that gives biltong its unique meat flavor.

Contrast that to jerky, where the dehydration process lasts anywhere from 2 to 8 hours.

Good biltong is often judged by the quality of meat and the aged meat flavor. The vinegar and salt ingredients are there primarily to preserve the meat, but they do add to the unique flavor profile of biltong.

Good jerky is often judged by the unique combination of marinade and seasoning. It can also go on to include the unique choice of smoke woods, the cut of meat, and even the natural flavor of meat. But it's the unique blend of marinades and seasonings that define one brand from another.

Biltong is dehydrated as one large chunk or strip of meat, and then sliced into bite-sized pieces.  Jerky, on the other hand, is always sliced first, and then dehydrated.

Biltong is always made from whole meat.  Jerky can be made from either whole meat or ground meat.

Biltong is dehydrated in large pieces and then sliced.
Biltong is dehydrated in large pieces and then sliced to eat
Jerky is sliced first into edible pieces and then dehydrated

The word "jerky" has grown to include a wide variety of dehydrated foods. You can now find companies marketing mushroom jerky, cactus jerky, clam jerky, soy jerky, even bacon jerky. Biltong, however, remains limited to red meats, based on its aging process and limited ingredients.

Many biltong experts claim that jerky does not use vinegar, but the fact is the largest brands of jerky all use vinegar for both flavoring, preservation, and tenderizing. Many small gourmet brands rely on different types of vinegar to create tangy chewing.

There is also a belief that jerky is not air dried in the way biltong is. While it's true that most jerky manufactured for commercial purposes is dehydrated in smokers and ovens, that's only because US federal laws require meat to be heated to at least 140 degrees F to kill off bacteria. Otherwise, the earliest forms of jerky were all air-dried under the sun, and there are still people who make jerky this way for personal consumption.

There is also a number of companies manufacturing jerky using the same recipe for biltong, but dehydrating it under US federal requirements. As a result, it doesn't have the same soft, aged flavor as biltong, but still has all the same ingredients.

What that means is that biltong is largely defined by the dehydration process as it is the ingredients.

Meanwhile jerky remains a very broad term encompassing all sorts of dried meats and other foods.

Note:  Interested in trying biltong?  See my reviews here: http://www.bestbeefjerky.org/search/label/Biltong