Organic Jerk Seasoning
Jerk is not only the guy who keeps parking on your lawn despite your frequent yet polite protests, but it is also a delicious way to prepare meat in the style of Jamaican cooks. Jerk shacks have popped up all over Jamaica and offer up an array of wonderful, slow cooked mouthfuls of heaven in the physical form of meat and seafood.
This style of cooking has African roots, but has flourished in Jamaica. Jerk seasonings themselves can vary greatly, depending on who is making them. Lots of seasonings for sale on the market now contain copious amounts of salt which is an inexpensive filler for manufacturers, but which is not necessarily the best option for you. Our organic jerk seasoning is salt-free, though you may not be if that guy is still hanging out on your lawn.
As it tends to be with our organics, we were expanding our inventory and working to grow our selection of seasoning blends. A challenge presented here was providing the right amount of heat from the right kind of chile flakes without sacrificing all the other rich flavors of the blend. We decided the classic organic red pepper flakes would be the perfect chile flakes for the job.
The name for this cooking technique probably comes from the Quechua word "charqui" which is pronounced "char-KEY." The name may have also been influenced by the action of poking holes through the meat so more flavor could be absorbed, called "jerking" the meat. Sometimes these holes would even be filled with spice blends. In English, the word jerky probably came from the same word and in our lexicon it means "strips of dried meat."
The spice blend of allspice, salt, and whatever chile was available was thought to be the first iteration of jerk seasoning, used only for preserving the meat and not necessarily for flavoring it. More spices were added to the blend and it became something that helped with the preservation of the meats, but it also added more flavor.
It is certain that this style of cooking came from the Maroons, a group of people forced from Africa by the Spanish as enslaved people to find themselves in Jamaica through the 1600s. They freed themselves from slavery in the mid-1600s as the British took control of Jamaica back from Spain and built a life in the mountains, where it was hard for slave masters to traverse. They perfected methods for cooking meat, usually boar, that were discreet and would allow them to remain hidden from the dangers of being forced back into slavery. The Maroons would dig holes in the ground and cook their food in wrappings and under wooden planks to prevent the smoke from escaping their controlled environment and giving away their location. This made the meat super flavorful and tender because the trapped moisture could continue to circulate around the meat instead of evaporating away.
In the 1940s, modern popularity of jerking in Jamaica was born at the Boston Beach in the northern part of the island. These stands were known for selling jerked pork made in pits, like the original cooks in the mountains had done it. Breadfruit was served as a mellowing compliment to the very fiery meat. Jerk pits are still the popular choice for buying jerked meat in this part of Jamaica. Classically, the meat is cooked and covered using the burning wood of the pimento tree, the very tree that the allspice berries used in the seasoning come from. Jerk cooking is typically done for three to four hours, but some people will cook it for six hours. Cooking time depends on flavor and texture preference. Author Zora Neale Hurston has said about food from this part of the world that, "It is hard to imagine anything better than pork the way the Maroons jerk it."
In the past jerk cooking was used almost exclusively for pork, usually pork shoulder, but is now used for all kinds of meat and seafood. Jamaican Jerk seasoning was originally created with a blend of spices that could be easily found on the island. The meat was cooked with wood that was equally accessible.
Jerk hut cooks are hesitant to reveal what exactly is in their seasoning blend, but a few key ingredients are agreed upon. These are allspice and a chile of some sort. Other ingredients can be added based on preference of the cook, but removing one of the two crucial ingredients will change the end flavor too much to be considered jerk seasoning anymore. Chiles are widely considered to be the most important ingredient because where there is jerk seasoning, there is spicy meat.
Our organic Jamaican Jerk seasoning is blended by hand with organic onion, organic coriander, organic garlic, organic ginger, organic coconut sugar, organic black pepper, organic allspice, organic cinnamon, organic red pepper flakes, organic nutmeg and organic cloves.
Jerk rub has a reputation for being hot and this organic blend will not disappoint. This blend is convenient for regular cooking, but can also add a nice touch to special occasions when you want to impress your friends with your culinary expertise. It can be used as a meat rub or simply sprinkled over the dish for an extra kick of flavor.
Of course, this can be used over vegetables or in savory soups as well. It takes little imagination to think of things that would taste even better with some Jamaican Jerk seasoning.
We have a few recipes that utilize our conventional Jamaican Jerk blend, but this can be easily replaced with the organic version for the same result. Jamaican Jerk Stir Fry, Jamaican Jerk Chicken and Mango Chutney Sandwich and Jerk Burgers are some recommended recipes worth trying with this seasoning blend. Let's not forget the classic Jamaican Jerk Chicken, either.
To make your own jerk seasoning marinade, combine ½ cup of our spice blend with ¼ cup of orange juice, ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of both soy sauce and olive oil, and the juice of one small lime which is about 2 tablespoons. This recipe makes enough marinade for about 4 pounds of chicken. The meat should be marinated for at least three hours, while some cooks will go for up to 24 hours. Meats marinated with acids (in this case orange juice, vinegar and the limes), for longer periods, have a tendency to become a bit mushy as the proteins in the meat break down quicker. We prefer to stick closer to the three hour marinating window for best results. Remove the meat from the fridge 30-45 minutes before you plan to cook it.
We recommend using one tablespoon of seasoning for every pound of meat you are cooking if you are using it as a rub. Coat the meat evenly on both sides before cooking for the best possible flavor.
Serving Size1 tsp
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*