Isn’t it wonderful that there are many types of meat you can use in making jerky?
Several articles ago, we showed you how to make meat jerky. But have you ever wondered what is meat actually? How do you classify meat? What are the different meats in making jerky?
Generally speaking, meat is any animal flesh that is eaten for human consumption. But for some, they have this restrictive definition of meat that means mammalian flesh or meat coming from mammals like beef and pork. This excludes the likes of fish, seafood, poultry, and other animals.
However, for the purpose of this article, we will include fish, seafood, poultry, and other edible animals as meats.
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Since prehistoric times, humans have hunted and killed animals for food. Humans are generally carnivorous, so they eat different types of meat depending on the level of hunger and the availability of their prey.
Eventually, civilization has allowed domestication and farm-raising of animals such as cattle, sheep, chickens, pigs, etc. As civilization progressed, meat production has become industrialized which established slaughterhouses and food processing among others.
Farm-Raised Meat vs. Game Meat
Today, we use the term “game” to refer to any animal hunted for sport or for food. The term came from an Old English “gamen” which means “amusement or sport”.
Types of animals hunted for sport or for food varies in other parts of the world. Some countries have restrictions or required licenses before you could hunt.
Unlike farm-raised meat which becomes commercial meat products, the meat from wild animals is healthy and nutritious. This is due to the animal’s natural diet and lifestyle since they are not bred or raised, fed on a diet, or confined in a cage as farm-raised animals do.
Game meat is usually taken from an animal that has been shot with a gun or a bow. Small game animals like rabbits, pheasants, geese, or ducks may be butchered at home. Large game animals like deer, moose, or bear, need to be dressed first to remove the visceral parts before carrying it home for butchering. The carcass is usually kept cool to avoid spoilage.
Game meat is usually prepared and cooked like farm-raised meat. However, it could be cooked longer for it to become tender as they tend to be tough and chewy than farm-raised meat. It also has this distinctive “gamey” flavor to it because of its wild diet and low-fat content.
Different Types of Meat
For the purpose of this article, we will define the three types of meats in making jerky as:
- Red meat – usually from large animals like cattle, deer, etc.
- White meat – usually from poultry animals and pork; and
- Fish and seafood
Red Meat vs. White Meat
The concentration of myoglobin in the muscle fibers makes meat appear red. When exposed to oxygen, it becomes oxymyoglobin which makes meat turn red. The redness depends on the species, age, and type of muscle fiber.
Red meat contains many narrow muscle fibers that move actively over long periods of time without resting. White meat contains more broad muscle fibers that move in short but fast bursts. Thus, dark red meat comes from more heavily muscled parts of an animal, and white meat comes from the least muscled parts.
However, generally speaking, we refer meat from cows, sheep, etc. as red meat while we refer meat from poultry as white meat.
Nutritional Value of Meat
Meat is rich in protein because it has all the essential amino acids. It is a good source of zinc, vitamin B12 (cobalamin), selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), choline, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and iron. Other forms of meat are also rich in vitamin K. Meat does not contain dietary fiber, thus we need to include fruits or vegetables in our diet.
The fat content of meat varies depending on the animal species and the way it was raised, fed, prepared, and cooked.
Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio
Both omega-6 and omega-3 are essential fatty acids needed by our bodies. And since they are essential, it means that these are not produced by our bodies and we have to take them either as food or food supplements.
Usually, omega-6 fatty acids can be found in the food we eat daily. Omega-3 can be found on fish and fish oils. However, too much of omega-6 may increase the problems of some medical conditions. That is the reason why the ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 have been closely studied and monitored on diets recently.
Studies show that our ancestors consumed omega-6 and omega-3 fats in a ratio of close to 1:1. However, due to shifts in our dietary habits, this ratio has changed and has increased the incidences of medical problems.
Below is a table of meats with their omega-6 to omega-3 ratio:
| Type of Meat|| Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio|
|Lamb and Mutton|| |
|Wild Boar|| |
Meats for Making Jerky
The most popular of the meat jerky. It comes in different flavors and available everywhere. The best beef jerky is made from top choice cuts of beef, which is cut into strips. The jerky is then marinated, cured, smoked, or dried.
The meat of a deer is called venison. It is traditionally game meat but now can be commercially available for consumption. It is getting good popularity and reputation because of its lean meat and nutritional value as compared to other types of meat.
We always encounter roasted turkey during Thanksgiving. But did you know that you could make this poultry a jerky? This white meat has a deeper but drier taste than chicken which makes it more protein-dense. The thick turkey meat may do well in your food dehydrator or smoker. Just cut the turkey meat in thick, solid strips then marinate in selected spices before drying.
Another game fowl that could be used for jerky is a duck. This white meat can be marinated in teriyaki soy sauce, brown sugar, salt, garlic, onion, and spices. Then it could be dried to perfection in your food dehydrator. Duck jerky has a mild, slightly sweet taste which could be a perfect protein snack on the go.
As the name suggests, wild boar is a non-domesticated pig. The meat is also called “wild boar”. It contains high amounts of protein and a smaller amount of fat which makes it much leaner and red as compared to farm-raised pork. Trichinella spiralis occasionally contaminate wild boar. Therefore, care should be taken when handling or preparing. Wild boar has a sweet nutty taste that could be balanced with natural spices in your marinade.
Lamb and Mutton
Lamb is the meat from a sheep that is less than one-year-old. Mutton is the meat of an adult sheep. Both types of meat are healthy if you look at their omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. However, lamb is expensive compared to other types of meat.
Goat’s meat is called chevon. Caribbean cultures prefer mature goats which meat is more pungent. Other cultures prefer young goats (6-9 months old). Chevon is savory, slightly sweeter than lamb but less sweet than beef. This red meat is leaner, contains less cholesterol, fat, and protein than beef or lamb. However, it has this mild to strong gamey flavor depending on how it is raised and prepared.
Wild rabbits are hunted for their meat which is a lean source of high-quality protein. Its ground meat could be made into a flavorful meat jerky.
Jerky lovers can choose from a wide range of fish: salmon, tuna, trout, or even shark. Fish is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. The fish is soaked in brine overnight, then smoked or dried afterward. Sun-dried fish jerky is better this time.
Other Exotic Animal Meat
Almost all meats can be made into jerky. You would see online various meat jerky that you may perceive as out of this world. Alligator, ostrich, elk, yak, buffalo, kangaroo, and snake are just a few of them.
Since there are different meats in making jerky, the possibilities are endless. Go ahead and experiment with your food dehydrator and see for yourself.