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Clinton father starts business after making homemade jerky for his diabetic son

June 26, 2017

CLINTON — What began as a father’s way to provide his son better access to his favorite snack has grown into a business.

Ted Martinez sells homemade beef, pork and chicken jerky in a variety of flavors on the Facebook page “Bare Meat Snacks.” Lamb jerky is also available during certain times, and in the future, Martinez hopes to sell deer jerky as well.

Jerky has a low impact on blood sugar, making it a preferred snack for Martinez’s diabetic son.

However, Martinez was frustrated with the big impact jerky purchases had on his wallet. He spent $60 to $70 on jerky each month without getting the amount or quality he wanted, he said.

So in November 2016, Martinez decided to try making homemade jerky, with the help of a friend who had a dehydrator. His son devoured the first batch.

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Ted Martinez slices beef while making jerky Thursday, June 22, 2017, at his Clinton home. Martinez works full time and makes jerky in the early morning or late evening with his wife.
BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner

The family began to experiment with different flavors, offering original, teriyaki, garlic peppercorn, garlic Sriracha and “everything spice.”

“Everything spice” is a custom mix of about 25 seasonings that Martinez developed through trial and error. He had previously attended a culinary arts school in Baltimore, where he learned skills he said helped him re-create the seasoning once it was perfected.

Because his family liked it so much, Martinez sold the jerky to his co-workers. When that was successful, he started a Facebook page.

Romer Ferrer is a jerky fan and discovered the Bare Meats on Facebook. Now he places an order about every two weeks. 

“I like their quality” Ferrer said. “It’s pretty good. They do take pride in what they do.”

To make the jerky, Martinez buys unsliced meat. He freezes it, then lets it thaw until it is soft — but still a little frozen. That makes it easier to slice with a deli slicer.

After the meat is cut into thin slices, Martinez weighs it. A 20-ounce bag of jerky takes about 3.8 pounds of raw meat.

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Ted Martinez adds extra marinade to a teriyaki beef stick before putting it in the dryer Thursday, June 22, 2017, at his Clinton home. Martinez started Bare Meat Snacks as a way to make and sell jerky. He recently expanded into meat sticks.
BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner

Most jerky available at stores contain multiple preservatives, Martinez said, but his jerky is preserved simply by the salt-based spices he uses and the dehydrating process.

“It’s more natural,” he said. “You know what is in it. There is no excess. There is no xanthan gum; there’s no corn oil. There are no extra ingredients that aren’t needed for beef jerky.”

Aside from being a diabetic-friendly snack, jerky has other health benefits. The amount of protein and fat and type of seasoning affect the nutritional value of jerky, said Rodney Hansen, a nutrition professor at Weber State University.

Jerky can be a compact form of protein, Hansen said, and the salt in the jerky can help replenish the body’s electrolytes.

“When I’m out backpacking, I love to get the jerky out and have some,” Hansen said.

However, despite the positives, there are nutritional downsides to be aware of, he said. Jerky does tend to be high in saturated fats. It’s OK to have some saturated fat in your diet, but it’s important to be aware of the amounts you’re consuming.

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Ted Martinez lays out strips of beef marinated in a custom teriyaki sauce on a drying rack Thursday, June 22, 2017, at his Clinton home.
BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner

People with gout need to be careful of eating too much jerky as well because of its high protein content.

One of the biggest benefits homemade jerky has over store-bought jerky, Hansen said, is the lack of preservatives.

Preservatives’ effect on health is unknown, but Hansen said he tells his students that if you can avoid it, that’s best. If it’s preservative-free, it will probably taste better, too, he said.

As far as ingredients go, Martinez’s jerky gets its flavor from a wet marinade. Each wet marinade has a base of either soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce or an oil, such as olive oil or sesame oil. From there, more individualized ingredients are added to create specific flavors.

Martinez’s wife, Donna Marie Martinez, said the ingredients affect the flavor.

“It intrigues me because I always thought it was an easy process. But once you start getting the ingredients, you’ve got to get it right,” Donna Marie said. “If you don’t, it can either taste too bitter or taste too dry.”

Right now, Martinez sells his jerky by word of mouth and on his Facebook page. But in the future, he hopes to sell at locally owned shops in the area, farmers markets and eventually larger grocery stores.

Contact reporter Matilyn Mortensen at mmortensen@standard.net or follow her on Twitter at @MatilynKay.