The word jerky comes from the Quechan word “ch’arki,” which literally means “dried meat.” The Quechua boned and defatted alpaca or llama meat, cut it into slices, pounded it thin, and rubbed it with salt. The meat was then sun dried or smoked over a fire. The Spanish Conquistadors later saw the Native Americans using this same process to dry meat from buffalo, elk, and deer. They too started using this preservation technique that provided a high-protein fuel in times of scarcity, calling it “charqui.” The natives eventually adopted the Spanish term and, with their accent, the word “jerky” was born.
It is uncertain whether jerky originated from the Quechua or Native Americans, but, regardless, it was an important evolution in food preparation that allowed people to store food for long periods of time and have a portable source of nutrient-dense fuel. It became a staple in the diets of early pioneers and cowboys, who were often traveling for weeks or months on end. Over time, people started adding spices to their jerky recipes to make it more palatable.
To this day, jerky remains a time-tested snack that can support modern adventurers. Unfortunately, when industrial food companies started producing their own version of jerky to sell to consumers, they butchered (pun intended) the traditional process. Many producers started adding nitrates, which are chemicals that give processed and cured meats color, but are also associated with an increased risk for heart disease. Undesirable additives like MSG, liquid smoke, natural flavors, and refined sugars are still common in most commercial jerkys today.
Good news! EPIC now has a traditional jerky without any nonsense. Choose from two bold flavors—spicy or sweet & savory—both made with 100% grass-fed, pasture-raised beef raised without the use of antibiotics or growth stimulants. Instead of refined sugar and soy, we use whole food complements like pineapple juice and coconut aminos to maximize flavor and texture. We experimented with hundreds of spice mixes to come up with these two winning combinations, each of which offers an EPIC flavor-forward experience.
We are also proud to share our process for making the jerky in a way that preserves the traditional integrity of this food while incorporating modern technology to produce the freshest, most flavorful product possible. First, the meat is filled with a brine, then tumbled in a vacuum tumbler, which encourages even distribution through the meat. It’s then frozen for around a week to firm the meat for slicing. The frozen meat is sliced into logs then cut into small pieces, which are loaded onto trays and cooked in a smokehouse for 3–4 hours. Once pulled from the oven, they are chipped into bite-sized pieces and packaged. Rather than adding any preservatives, we preserve the jerky by maintaining the water content to a certain level.
How is this different from our current products? Well, it is made entirely from lean muscle meat, which allows us to expand our Whole Animal Project. Therefore, there is a higher protein content per ounce when compared to our current beef products. With 11–12 grams of protein per ounce (about 30 grams per bag), the traditional jerky is our best option for high-protein diets. As far as texture goes, you’ll get a drier, chewier experience that’s more reminiscent of the mainstream jerkys that have been around for decades. When you try it, you might find yourself reminiscing over your first camping experience or road trip as a child. However, with thoughtful ingredients and production, this jerky is more like the stuff the Quechua and Native Americans ate—and will make you feel like a warrior. The texture will feel familiar, but the flavor and quality are what we’re excited to re-introduce to this timeless snack.
EPIC is proud to bring our sourcing and quality standards to this timeless snack and to showcase the latest evolution of our Whole Animal Project.
For a limited time, any purchase on epicbar.com gets two free bags of our new traditional jerky. One bag of each flavor will be shipped with each order while supplies last—not applicable to wholesale orders; no code or minimum purchase required. Note that if you love this stuff as much as us and want more, it’s being sold with an updated packaging and can be found here.