Now that we know jerky has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years thanks to the Incas, jerky also made its mark in the New World. With the knowledge of drying and preserving meat learned in South America, in and around what we know as Peru today, the Incas may have passed along some knowledge to others outside of the tribe as the North American Indians were also making jerky when the Settlers came to the New World.
Many stories have been told throughout history that the first winter in the New World killed many of the settlers and if it was not for the knowledge passed from the Native Americans on what to eat and how to prepare foods found here, most, if not all of the settlers would have perished. Today we know that the Native Americans survived on a meat diet, much of it buffalo and jerky made from the buffalo.
The Indians learned that the buffalo could provide the tribe with everything that they needed to survive. They wasted nothing that could be harvested from the hide to the fat in their meat. The fat was actually used as a preservative for the meat by certain tribes. They would dry the meat and pound it into small pieces. They then would dip it into melted fat to preserve it from getting moldy. This formed a product known as pemmican.
With the knowledge of jerky and preserving the meat for long term use, both the Indians and the settlers were able to survive the harsh winters when hunting was at a premium. Being able to preserve meat and have it in a form that could be easily transported too was indeed a life saver for all concerned.
Jerky has proven itself again to be a crucial item in history and remains so time and time again.