Sliced meat, jerky, beef jerky, bresaola or mustbröckli are all different types of dried meat. But what are the differences? This is the question we want to explore in this article - especially with regard to sliced meat.
How is dried meat generally produced?
In a drying process, the water is removed from - mostly raw - meat so that a maximum of 10% water content remains at the end. There are several drying methods, such as drying in a hot air stream, vacuum drying, freeze-drying or the natural and slow drying in the air or in the sun.
In most cases, the meat is rubbed with spices and/or pickled before drying. In many cases, curing salt is also added or the meat is smoked. In order to obtain high-quality sliced meat in the end, the initial product must already be of good quality and the drying process must be ideal.
Dried meat is produced in many parts of the world. In South Africa it is called biltong, in Portugal carne seca, in Turkey pastırma, in northern Germany nail meat and in the USA beef jerky. But especially in the Alps, dried meat or sliced meat was a staple food of the mountain farmers.
What is so special about sliced meat?
Sliced meat is not a completely fixed term. As a rule, it is understood to mean dried meat made from the muscle meat of the beef shoulder. Bündnerfleisch, on the other hand, but also part of mountain meat, is made from the muscle meat of the thigh. Whether sliced meat is cured and how exactly it is dried is up to each producer. The exact length of time for which it is dried is also not specified anywhere.
Planed meat is somewhat harder in consistency than Bündnerfleisch and is usually sliced across the grain. The nutritional values, protein content and taste are absolutely comparable with the well-known relative from Graubünden. Usually, sliced meat is a little drier and its protein content is almost 50%. Of course, it also depends on the other production conditions.
Does the producer use pickling salt? Which spices are used? Is there a "secret" recipe for the marinade? Is the drying process carried out carefully and in nature or is it a fast drying process?
Sliced meat vs. Bündnerfleisch
Basically, it's like champagne. Only winegrowers whose grapes grow in a defined area and who adhere to certain specifications are allowed to call their sparkling wine champagne. A winegrower who follows exactly the same specifications but sources his grapes from a neighbouring region is only allowed to sell sparkling wine.
Bündnerfleisch is also produced according to certain specifications in a defined area. If you produce practically the same meat but without pickling salt - which is much more digestible - you can no longer call it Bündnerfleisch.
So a very well-made sliced meat can even be much better than its well-known relative. If you only use regional meat from animals kept in a manner appropriate to their nature, excellent spices and do not use pickling salt or other additives, you will probably even end up with a significantly better product. It should be mentioned again that the meat used to make Bündnerfleisch does not even have to come from Switzerland. On the other hand, curing salt, ascorbate, glutamate and sugar are often used in the production process.
And at Alpahirt?
All products at Alpahirt - including the sliced meat - are free of any additives! Here, only meat from grass-fed Grisons cows is processed, which begins with a soaking in a red wine and natural salt brine for several weeks. The meat is then preserved for several weeks in a natural drying process. Nothing more. Alpahirt's slogan is "Nature and conscience - our only additives". And that's how it should be. With this in mind: En Guete!
By the way: Alpahirt was once registered as a Bündnerfleisch producer. But since Alpahirt does not want to be compared with other products that contain additives and are made from imported and anonymous meat, they decided to withdraw.