January 1, 2023

– by zedek

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What is vegan jerky made of?

Just me chewing on some plant based jerky

What is vegan jerky made of? Let’s unravel this Interesting question, to give context, the word “jerky” derives from the Peruvian word ch’arki which means “dried, salted meat”. “Jerky” can be made simply using a low-temperature drying method and salt to prevent bacterial development.

The meat is also shredded and trimmed to prevent it from spoiling. In the case of vegan jerky, instead of animal meat, anything from grains, shiitake mushrooms, soybeans, seitan, tempeh, or even jackfruit can be used. This is because these ingredients mimic the texture and consistency of meat really well.

List of vegan jerky meat substitutes:

  • Seitain / vital wheat gluten
  • Tofu / tempeh
  • Soy protein/soy curls
  • Mung beans
  • Pea protein
  • Mushrooms (Shiitake, lion mane, king oyster)
  • Jackfruit
  • Eggpplant

In essence, every brand’s vegan jerky will differ slightly, especially when you factor in different flavours, but the table below will help illustrate what exactly these brands are using.

Vegan Jerky NameMain Ingredients
Beyond Meat JerkyMung Bean Protein, Pea Protein, Oat Bran
Primal StripsSeitan/ vital wheat gluten, soy sauce
Stonewall’s JerqueeSoy flour, water, liquid smoke
Vegan dream JerkySeitan/vital wheat gluten
Louisville Vegan Jerky CoSoy protein, tamari
Portabella Jerky portabella mushrooms, tamari soy sauce

How do they make vegan jerky/ beyond jerky?

Although all vegan jerkys consist of different ingredients to substitute meat, the way they’re made is unanimously similar,

Vegan jerky is made in the following way:

  1. The meat substitute (e.g, seitan, soy curls, mushrooms, eggplant etc.) is prepared either by cutting, hydrating or drying. This ensures the meat substitute comes out with the correct consistency and flavour to mimic ordinary jerky’s.
  2. Next, umami flavours like soy sauce, liquid smoke and Worcestershire sauce are mixed together to lather the meat substitute and marinate it. These types of flavours are key in giving the jerky that distinct smokey and “protein-y” flavour.
  3. There is a wide range of seasonings and flavours that can be added at this point, but a few of the common ones include:
  • Maple syrup
  • White miso paste
  • Vegetable broth
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried basil
  • black pepper
  • Chilli powder

Once all the chosen flavours have been mixed together, the meat substitute pieces are either submerged fully in the mixture or coated lightly before being baked at the lowest temperature possible for between 4 and 6 hours.

Beyond jerky has various flavours but below outlines how they generally make it:

  • Beyond Meat Jerky uses pea and mung bean protein to substitute for ‘beef’. The key flavourings they use are onion powder, garlic powder, vinegar, lemon juice concentrate, pomegranate concentrate, citric acid, and sunflower lecithin.​
  • The meat substitute is then marinated in these flavours and then slow-roasted for between 4 and 6 hours.

What does plant-based jerky taste like?

Plant-based jerky has a very rubbery texture which is accompanied by strong umami and savoury flavours. Each brand and flavour will differ slightly, but you can expect a good vegan jerky to taste like dried, marinated meat.

The meat substitute that is used doesn’t really affect the taste very much, but it does play a role in the texture and consistency of the jerky, some of the more meaty jerky’s are made from soy protein and mushrooms.

In regards to taste, the seasonings and flavours of plant-based jerky are quite similar. Salty, spicy and smokey flavours are unanimously used to create that meaty, just off the fire, taste.

If you are interested in picking up plant-based jerky, it is important to know that it can be hit or miss. One brand’s jerky can be spectacular while another can lack flavour and be too chewy.

Because of this I suggest you check out these awesome pieces of content which will give you a better idea about which plant-based jerky’s taste the best.

How long does vegan jerky last?

Depending on how you store it, vegan jerky can last between 3 days and a 3weeks. Most commercial jerky bags will state “eat within 3 days after opening”, however, if you seal your jerky in an airtight container or a cool, dry place where sunlight and heat can’t affect the jerky’s freshness and flavour, it can stay pretty fresh for up to a week. This is aided by the fact that the jerky is already pretty dry and dehydrated meaning freshness is not a big deal.

  • Do you have to refrigerate vegan jerky?

Within the first 3 days of opening your jerky, you don’t necessarily have to refrigerate it but you can if you think it will take you longer than 3 days to consume it. The only downside is, jerky is best consumed at room temperature because chilling it can make it even tougher and difficult to bite through.

  • Does vegan jerky go bad?

Vegan jerky does go bad but it won’t necessarily become mouldy and foul. Depending on the ingredients used, the jerky can just grow to become old and tough. The time taken to go bad differs depending on the meat substitute used and whether any preservatives were used.

From my experience, vegan jerky hasn’t gone bad per se, but there is definitely a time limit on how long you can leave them before they aren’t as edible.

The takeaway

Plant-based jerky’s are popular snacks that are also commonly made from home. They can be made from a wide variety of meat alternatives like wheat gluten, soy protein, eggplants or shiitake mushrooms. The most consistent flavours you’ll find in a bag of vegan jerky are garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, soy sauce and liquid smoke. These allow those classic umami flavours to pop out. Finally, the jerky is marinated and slowed cooked, to deliver that tender, meaty consistency.

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