Since Native Americans did not have "fast food" and were often on the move, buffalo jerky became a favorite way of transporting food or keeping it so it would not spoil. Since the buffalo is such a large animal that produces a lot of meat, it is necessary to store the meat in a way that it will not get spoiled. Lacking refrigerators or other means of storage, Native Americans made buffalo jerky by cutting the meat into strips, stringing it up, and drying in sun, as we do nowadays with laundry. Unlike the Europeans, the Native Americans did not use salt to preserve meat (and this was, perhaps, ultimately a healthier choice in the end), but relied on the sun to dry the meat. The process for making buffalo jerky is quite simple, and there are places which offer this traditional delicacy today.
"Jerky" comes from the Spanish word "Charqui". It is a tough form of the meat, but many find that its flavor is quite concentrated and stronger than that of regular meat, just as dried fruit is often sweeter than fresh. Today, many people smoke their buffalo jerky for extra flavors, and it is possible to find many varieties of buffalo jerky that vary in taste according to the kind of wood that was used to soak it or the type of marinade used.
A method of making buffalo jerky which was popular among Native Americans, but is not used often today, is the pemmican method (from the Cree word "pimii" or fat). In spite of buffalo meat's reputation for being lower in fat and calories than beef, this form of buffalo jerky is quite high in fat but is also tasty. Pieces of buffalo jerky are placed in hides of Bison skin and marrow fat is poured in. The pieces are then cooled and eaten.
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