Trader Joe's is a chain of grocery stores that focuses on mixing together the basic foods with ecclectic and exotic foods. A lot of their wares is selected for natural ingredients, though it's not a natural foods store. They managed to make a name for themselves in the 1960's and early 1970's by going after the hippie demographic. Today a lot of hippies still shop there, except they're more wealthier and wear more conservative clothing these days.
The company's own line of beef jerky is billed as "Natural" beef jerky, though not necessarily organic. It's private labeled through Intermountain Naturals, LLC of Idaho Falls, ID. That's the same processor that makes jerky for the Golden Valley Natural, and Jerky Direct brands.
And in keeping with Trader Joe's tradition of keeping prices down, this jerky is priced in the lower echelon as well.
Beef, sugar, water, soy sauce, pineapple juice concentrate, apple cider vinegar, salt, flavorings, paprika, natural smoke flavoring.
It's hard to say what the first taste that is that I taste with this, but I can sense a bit of sweetness, and a very faint sense of teriyaki. I can "kinda" taste the natural meat flavors after several chews. I can also pick up some smokiness.
I'm not sure what it is with jerky made by Intermountain Naturals, but so far everything I've had from them, either as Trader Joe's, or as Golden Valley Natural, is tasteless. I don't think that's a reflection of using all natural ingredients, or being organic, because I've had similar jerky from other brands that had much more taste.
Or maybe the folks in Idaho have ultra-keen taste buds, I don't know.
I'd say the taste that dominates this jerky is a mild teriyaki flavor; it's not strong, but just there in the background.
It's not even salty.
While I can't really pick up much of the natural meat flavors, there is a faint bit of it. At least the beef doesn't have an old taste, being this is preservative free.
These are cuts of real meat, sliced average to thick thickness, and in small to medium sized pieces.
This is probably best classified as a semi-moist variety, though some pieces are more dry than moist. It's very soft and tender; I find it easy to tear apart and chew. That's perfect for all those hippies having lost their teeth.
Some of the pieces have some good fat marbilization, but otherwise I didn't find any chewy tendon or gristle.
I notice that one piece has this "black splotch", see the second photo below. I scraped as much of it as I could off of there.
Overall, this is has an excellent meat consistency.
I paid $4.99 for this 4oz package at a Trader Joe's in Temecula, CA. That works out to $1.25 per ounce, putting this at the lower end of average.
I'd say this has a weak value, being largely tasteless, and thereby not really providing much snacking satisfaction. While it has a great meat consistency for folks who prefer soft and tender jerky, there really isn't much else to enjoy with this.
As for being a teriyaki variety, again it's very weak. In fact, I'm going to pull out my bottle of teriyaki sauce from the fridge and add some more.
I'm giving this a fair rating.
All this has going for itself is the great meat consistency, and that was good enough to get it a "fair" rating. You might also include the fact that it's made with all natural ingredients. For all I know, this could be an organic beef jerky, though it doesn't say it.
But where's the taste?
Considering that Trader Joe's prides itself on offering low prices, maybe they paid Intermountain Naturals to use a lot less seasonings.
It's like drinking a bottle of Coors beer, and finding that it isn't much different than carbonated water. And that's too bad, because for a jerky that prides itself on being "natural", I'd figure I could get some great beef taste. But I can't even get that.
Where to buy?:
- At any Trader Joe's store