If you are familiar with beef jerkies, you would probably like the Peruvian Ch’arki as well. As we all know, Jamaican beef jerky is known all over the world. However, ch’arki in Peru is prepared using the meat of alpaca, llama or alpaca-llama crossbreeds. Peruvian ch’arki is exported all over the world and is widely consumed domestically as well. In fact, the country produces close to 450 tons of ch’arki every year.
This dried and salted meat delicacy is so popular that many people carry bags full of ch’arki while going back to their home countries in order to distribute it to their friends and family. Alpaca meat is usually salted and sun-dried for days to prepare ch’arki. The meat is first properly sliced and then, marinated in salt. This salted meat is sun-dried in the Andean sun where the meat dries very differently. There are regional variations in how ch’arki is prepared as well.
For instance, in Cusco, bone-in meat is used to sun dry, which is known as “charqui completo”. In Argentina and Uruguay, ch’arki is known as saladeros, and when it was taken to the US, it became anglicized as “jerky”. The Spanish first found the ch’arki at inns run by the Inca Empire. Weary travelers would drink alcohol and eat llama ch’arki before continuing with their onward journey. The cold and dry mountain air adds to the unique taste of the Andean ch’arki which cannot be replicated elsewhere.
The process of preparing ch’arki involves freeze drying in the sun, which renders the meat completely preserved and dried. The rarified air contributes to the quick drying as well and retains the original flavor in the meat without altering the taste profoundly. In fact, ch’arki is particularly known for its unique taste that results from this process of freeze-drying. If you would like to try ch’arki and experience a trip in the Andes, do not forget to contact us. We have custom tours that will help you to discover this beautiful country as per your needs.