Six glass mason jars of various preserved foods

Ch'arki: The Original Jerky Preserving Method

Just about everyone knows what beef jerky is. It's that dried, spiced meat that has been around for centuries and has a big following among loyal customers here at

But what you may not know is that there's more than one way to make jerky. In this post, we're going to take a look at the original method of preserving meat — ch'arki.

Ch'arki is the original word for dried meat in South America. And while there are many different recipes and methods for making ch'arki, the basic premise is always the same: Dehydrate thin slices of meat over low heat until they are deliciously dry and chewy. 

What Is Ch'arki and Where Does It Come From?

It is difficult to pinpoint the first time that ch’arki was made. However, based on historical and ethnographic sources, archaeologists have put forth a theory.

The earliest known writing of ch'arki comes from Spanish friar and conqueror Bernabé Cobo, who recorded it in 1653. He said that Peruvian people prepared this dish by cutting meat into slices, putting them on ice for a time, and then pounding them thin with another weight or mallet.

The delicious world of ch'arki jerky is brought to you by different methods in various parts of South America. 

For example, there's the Bolivian type, which contains meat dried at higher elevations with cold temperatures alone. In the Ayucucho Region, however, it simply needs smoking or salting before being completed into a jerky-like form. This type of ch’arki has been known as "the perfect food" because it not only satisfies your hunger but also provides some relief when you’re sick!

[Related: How Long Does Beef Jerky Last?]


How Ch'arki Jerky Is Made and the Different Methods Used

The art of dehydration is a delicate balancing act that requires patience and precision. 

The thin, uniform strips made from deboned meat are exposed to high altitudes during the driest months between May and August. They must withstand extreme conditions such as low temperatures with intense sun rays for up to six weeks at a time!

The drying process is a critical part of the food preservation strategy for many foods. The most common technique used for beef jerky involves hanging strips or placing them on rooftops to keep animals away. The strips are left there for anywhere between four and 25 days (recipes vary).

[Related: Is Beef Jerky Healthy?]


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