Jerky and Me profiles notable figures in the jerky community. This week, we're talking to J.R. from the Jerky Report, a respected online destination for jerky news and reviews.
"My first amazing jerky experience was when I was 13 years old on a raft trip in upstate New York," J.R. tells me. "We stopped at a general store and they had deer venison jerky. As I recall, it was super flavorful and tender. From that point on I knew that I loved dried meats!"
That childhood experience with a particularly memorable jerky was just the start of a long and rewarding relationship with the undisputed king of meat-based snacks. However, when J.R. made the decision to start his own jerky blog, it wasn't just his personal passion for the food item itself that spurred him on.
"I started the Jerky Report because of my die-hard love for jerky and seeing small businesses thrive," J.R. says. "I want to open folks' eyes to seriously amazing artisan jerky, Biltong and meatsticks. The big dogs who dominate the convenience store shelves shouldn't have a stranglehold on the industry. So, I have charged myself to spread the true blue jerky gospel."
J.R. is also very active on Twitter, supplying links to all his latest jerky reviews as well as tweeting about the wider world of top-quality meats and the occasional horror movie. If you're looking to be exposed to a huge range of little-known jerky makers from all around the world, J.R. is your guy.
Part of the reason that J.R. makes such a good guide through the world of jerky is his sense of adventure. Obviously, this counts for a lot in terms of tasting jerky—he rates Kangaroo jerky as 'outstanding' thanks to its extremely tender meat and inherent sweetness—but he's also taken the biggest step a jerky fan can take by making his own batch from scratch.
A batch of J.R.'s jerky sitting on his dehydrator.
"I own a Nesco Dehydrator, which is a perfect machine for any amateur jerky maker," J.R. says of his burgeoning jerky-making career. "So far I have made a Hawaiian jerky, a spicy and a bacon jerky." However, for the minute going full-time as a jerky maker isn't on the cards—the Jerky Report takes precedence.
"You would think that tasting a lot of delicious jerky is my favorite part about running the blog," J.R. tells me when I ask him what makes his jerky blog so rewarding. "But, it's the interaction with the makers and fans of jerky that brings me the most happiness. The jerky world, like craft beer, is a small community where its producers bond together in the common goal of creating killer meat snacks."