“All Natural” – it’s a phrase now so perverted that I utter it with some trepidation. But I want to reclaim just a bit of its honest meaning in the context of our new BoboLinks snack sticks.
Today, we take for granted the preservative power of refrigeration for perishable food. Refrigeration works because at low temperatures microbes sleep, which made it an absolute game-changing technology for civilization. Mechanical refrigeration appeared in the late 1800’s – but people ate perishable food before that! The immediate predecessor of refrigeration was blocks of ice distributed across surprisingly long distances.
But way before that, fermentation was a way to preserve and make food safe using the ability of some microbes to overcome the dangers of others.
Everyone is familiar with fermented products like wine, beer and cheese. Lately, other fermented products have regained popularity – yogurt, kombucha, and, of course, everyone’s favorite during the pandemic, sourdough bread (makes fabulous buns for Blue Nest Burgers BTW 😉.
In meat, the most recognized shelf-stable form is jerky preserved by drying and salting to eliminate conditions bacteria require to grow. Jerky is a staple for hunters and hikers around the country, but its tough texture isn’t well suited to the tastes of many folks.
However, for millennia, society also preserved meat via fermentation. Some of these products we still know by their common names, like salami and chorizo. It turns out that fermented meat actually existed as far back as the ancient Sumerians. Nearly two thousand years ago, Roman Legions perfected fermented meat as a staple food called “brig” for troops on the move.
Fermentation makes meat shelf-stable by increasing the acidity of the residual water with mild and natural organic acids. In most other meat snack sticks today, acidity is increased by adding an ingredient called “encapsulated” acid (either lactic or citric). Encapsulation means the acid is carried inside tiny capsules made of polyunsaturated fats commonly found in vegetable oil. These acid-containing capsules are blended in with the meat mixture, then when it’s cooked, the capsules dissolve, the acid disperses, and voila! – you get preserved meat. But you also get a greasy meat stick – that’s the vegetable oil, and it’s something I already do my best to avoid in my own healthy diet.
In contrast, our BoboLinks are naturally fermented. To ferment a BoboLink, we disperse a bit of dextrose in the meat mix with the microbes. Dextrose is a special sugar (in our case, made from tapioca) that lactic-acid producing microbes like to eat. The microbes then consume the dextrose and convert it into lactic acid. The result is a meat stick with uniformly distributed lactic acid, but no vegetable oil. Our sticks have been tested for residual dextrose, and there’s 0 grams of sugar left after the hungry microbes have finished their job! As a bonus, the fermentation creates an extra bit of tang to delight your taste buds.
You already know that our regenerative beef going into these sticks is as real and natural as it gets. Using beef from the same animals, but now using fermentation to preserve it, is the perfect way to keep our beef truly natural even when its sitting on your pantry shelf.
So, now you can enjoy real beef in the form of a genuinely “all natural” shelf-stable snack stick. Next time you head out the door, you can savor the flavor and dump the junk with our new BoboLinks.
Blue Nest Beef Co-Founder & CEO