NAMPA, IDAHO — Beef jerky is not very hard to find, but true jerky lovers will tell you finding good dehydrated meats isn't always easy. In this week's Made in Idaho, we introduce you to a quality jerky spot that, to one Treasure Valley woman, is a dream come true 30-years in the making!
Paula Mares is definitely no stranger to the kitchen.
"I've been cooking a long time," smiled Mama's Beef Jerky owner Paula Mares.
She's also no stranger to beef jerky, something she's experimented with and perfected after years of trial and error.
"I just kind of figured out a really great combination, and it worked," ," said Mares.
It quickly became a favorite for her family and friends, drawing excitement whenever the dehydrator was pulled out.
"It was an exciting day cause the kids new I was making jerky! Oh yeah, and it would never last very long. It was always gone so fast!" exclaimed Paula's Daughter Sammy Schink.
She was constantly being told that her jerky is so good, it needs to be sold in stores everywhere!
"I would think about it, and think it really does. So then I would think, I'm gonna do it! And I'd start getting busy on it, and I had four kids. I was already busy," said Mares.
And that process of trying to get a business going but stopping for various reasons went on for roughly 30 years! Finally, in early 2022, Mama's Jerky became a reality.
"It feels like I've finally completed something that was just undone for so long. I mean, going to the market and hearing the people, their response and how much they love it. I can't hear it too many times!" exclaimed Mares.
For now, you won't find them at one central location, but rather several different farmers markets, festivals, and events. But how can they be in so many places at one time?
"We divide up. We say divide and conquer! exclaimed both Paula and Sammy.
With different family members working different booths around the valley, customers wanna know who Mama is.
"No, I'm not...well, I am a momma, but you know, we aren't normally together because I'm at one market and she's at another," said Sammy.
In just over six months, Paula and her family now have six different flavors of their locally-famous beef jerky and can be found at several events throughout the Treasure Valley. For Paula, it's the Made in Idaho business she's dreamed of for decades.
"It's such a great feeling inside. Sometimes, I even tear up. It's a little overwhelming sometimes, that's when it kind of gets to me. Like oh my gosh, this is just so great," said Mares.
A dream for Paula...inspiration for her kids.
"That's just what my mom has always taught us growing up. You start something and you finish it. And I think that her accomplishing this is something that has been huge for her, but it's also been huge for us as her kids watching her meet this goal that she's wanted for so long. So I'm super proud of her and everything she's done to make it to where she's at now," said Sammy.
Aside from the days of work the family puts in to preparing and making their jerky, another reason it might be so good is where they get their beef, which is all supplied locally by Hoagland Meats in Homedale. If you'd like to order some of their jerky or find out where they will be next, check their website at:
or search for them on Facebook and Instagram.