Jerky is one of the most favourite snacks amongst astronauts!
Why NASA sent jerky into space?
The answer is simple - it's too costly to send things up to space so the food has specific requirements of providing balanced nutrition for astronauts whereas the storage, preparation and consumption of it in a weightless environment has to be as easy as possible.
NASA has prepared menus that include dried fruit, yoghurt, sausage, beef jerky, mashed potatoes, pasta and cheese, prawn cocktail. Even desserts. Most of the meals are dehydrated so the astronauts just add water. By the way, Jerky can last up to 6 months but no matter how big is the stock its never enough:)
Scientists and astronauts are also growing fresh food in space. Project Veggie on the International Space Station has helped astronauts become farmers and grow their own lettuce and cabbage.
Fun facts to know about jerky
The origin of the word “jerky” derives from “Charqui” which means “to burn meat”. The word “charqui” comes from a South American native tribe, called Quechua. The Quechua commonly used alpaca or llama meat, which has been boned, sliced, pounded thin, salted, and sun-dried or smoked over the fire!
In 1996, the jerky made its way from the Kennedy Space Centre towards Russia’s Mir Space Station, where all the crew aboard enjoyed this lightweight, high protein treat.
Humans aren’t the only beings to make “jerky”, since ancient times, red fire ants also used to make stash for a rainy day. They've been "making jerky" by storing bits & pieces of prey just under their anthill to dry, to be eaten when food is less abundant.