Old West Jerky – A Block Brand is Born
Contrary to popular belief, beef jerky is a healthy snack. It is an excellent source of protein, low in fat and calories, and has minimal carbohydrates per serving. Jerky is a no mess snack, great for work lunch boxes, after school snacks, traveling, camping, hunting, hiking, sledding, horn hunting, horse-riding, fishing, running a trap line, chasing cows, or any other outdoor endeavor….. You get the picture! Jerky also has a proven long shelf life, which also makes it perfect for family preparedness kits.
We dedicate our Old West Jerky brand to the brave and tough settlers of the west, the Native Americans that lived from and cared for the land before them; and the adventurous, independent, and resourceful folks still making a go of it out West. Our commitment to you is to stay focused on making authentic, high quality jerky, without the frills.
Healthy snacks aren’t just for Hipsters – Ride for the Brand. Old West!
Old West Jerky comes in five (5) Unique and Authentic Flavors:
- Sweet & Hot (our personal favorite);
- Peppered; and
- Original (Old Style Colorado Blend)
Old West Jerky is currently available at The Block in Thayne or can be ordered online at https://starvalleymeatblock.com/shop/
Stop by the plant to sample some Old West Jerky. You will taste the difference that using top quality beef and bison makes!
A Bit on Jerky
“Jerky” is a form of meat preservation in which fresh meat is dried to prevent it from spoiling. The word jerky comes from a South American native tribe called the Quechua, originally part of the ancient Inca Empire, as early as 1550. They called it ch’arki, which means “to burn (meat)”. The Quechua used meat from the alpaca and llamas that was boned and defatted, cut into slices and pounded thin, and rubbed with salt. The meat was then sun dried or smoked over a fire. The Spanish Conquistadors picked up on this and eventually named it Charqui. When they invaded the Americas they saw that the natives of North America were drying meat from buffalo, elk, and deer as well. It did not take long before the natives adopted the Spanish term, Charqui, only adding their accent and the word “jerky” was born. This method of preserving meats enabled people to consume high protein fuel that was readily available and eat it when food was scarce. Jerky became a staple for early American pioneers and cowboys. Over the years people discovered that the meat could be made more palatable by the addition of various spices, consuming it for its taste rather than just out of necessity.
Another similar product, pemmican, was developed by the North American Cree Indians. Pemmican is a concentrated mixture of fat and protein from large game animals such as buffalo, elk or deer, with the addition of specific ingredients that were usually whatever was available, such as cranberries, chokecherries, and saskatoon berries. The meat was cut into thin slices and dried over a slow fire or in the hot sun until it was hard and brittle. It was then pounded into very small pieces using stones. The shredded meat was mixed with melted fat. If available, dried fruits were pounded into powder and added to the meat/fat mixture. The resulting mixture was then packed into rawhide pouches for storage.
As settlers populated the eastern part of the United States and towns and cities grew up overnight; there became an urge to move “out west.” Native American Indians reigned over the western part of the country and jerky was a big part of their existence. Bison jerky or Buffalo, as it is more commonly known today, was the main staple for Native American tribes. Because of their culture and beliefs, when a Buffalo was killed it was used to feed the entire tribe and every piece of the animal was used. The hide was used for shelter, blankets, shoes, clothing and much more.
It was important to not waste any part of the animal. Storage of the meat was critical and many times Native Americans used the fat from the Buffalo to make Pemmican. Some tribes would dip the meat into hot fat and hang it above the fire to smoke it. This was a popular method when they were able to have a fire as dried meat was easily stored and carried with them.
The preferred method for efficient food storage was dehydration. Natives would create a rack from sticks and thin strips of leather. From this they would hang pieces of meat and allow the wind to dry it and they would use some of the fat to coat the jerky to preserve the meat from mold and moisture.
When the Gold Rush started, settlers relied on the dehydrated jerky that they would make as they traveled by wagon. Today it sounds unappealing to think about all of the dust, dirt and bugs that would fly into it, but settlers were not always able to make a fire. It was also difficult to hunt everyday so preserving what you did have was critical. The settlers and others that traveled on horse used jerky as a mainstay of their diet as it was easy to pack and carry in their saddle bags.
As homesteads were settled, everyone lived off of the land. Hunting became easier once settled as did farming. Elk, rabbit, venison, bear and eventually chicken, pigs and cows became readily available protein sources. Even so, meat preservation still remained a priority as there was no refrigeration.
Learning to adjust to new methods and ways to survive harsh winters, deserts and wind storms and everything else the west brought the settlers was a feat. Having a method to preserve their meat as jerky was a life and death survival situation and thankfully the Native American Indians shared their methods long ago.
Our Old West Jerky recipes and methods have roots that date back to the early settlers of Star Valley, Wyoming.