Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Trader Joe's Beef Jerky - Organic Original

Trader Joe's Beef Jerky - Organic OriginalTrader Joe's is a chain of specialty grocery stores across the United States, focusing on the ecclectic, mostly obscure brands of foods, natural foods, and the basic staples.

In the 1950s the company started out as a chain of convenience stores throughout Southern California, and then as the hippie movement took off in the 60s, the company reinvented itself into what you see now. Throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s, Trader Joe's achieved cult-like status across all of California, and then in 1997 the company went national with several stores on the east coast.

Trader Joe's offers its own brand of jerky, but like most grocery stores, it's private labeled through another company, in this case, Intermountain Natural, LLC of Idaho Falls, ID, a meat processor that specializes in natural ingredients and organic meat products. They make jerky for the Golden Valley Natural brand, and the Jerky Direct brand, as well.

The company offers two lines of jerky, one is "natural jerky" and the other is "organic jerky". Both are made by Intermountain Natural. The organic line carries the USDA Organic seal, while the natural line does not.

Ingredients

Organic beef, organic evaporated cane juice, water, organic soy sauce, organic apple cider vinegar, salt, organic paprika, natural smoke flavoring, organic black pepper, organic onion powder, organic garlic powder.

Taste

The first taste I get is a light sweetness off the surface of these pieces, followed by the smokiness, and that's about all I get. Moving into the chew, a little bit of saltiness comes out, and that's about it. If anything, I can kinda (barely), sense some of the onion, garlic, and pepper. But, I really have to think about it.

Despite soy sauce having a higher weight in the ingredients list, I can't taste any of it. In fact, I can't taste much of anything in this, which is pretty consistent with all of Trader Joe's jerky.

I'd say the predominant taste in this is the light sweetness that comes off the surface of these pieces, and then the slight bit of saltiness in the chewing. But it's all just slight tastes. For the most part, this jerky has very little taste at all.

As for the natural meat flavors, there are none.

Overall, Trader Joe's jerky continues to disappoint on taste. It doesn't taste bad, it just has very little taste to offer. That's a shame because a beef jerky that's touted as being "organic" ought to let you taste the goodness of beef without all the preservatives and hormones. Instead, you have dried meat that retains no taste of real meat.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced average thickness, and in small to medium sized pieces.

This is a soft and tender jerky that's still largely dry. But for being soft and tender, it's still retains some toughness. That is, it's not as soft and tender as lot of the other soft and tender jerkies out there. But I think most of the environmentally-conscious middle-aged women out there will still find this tolerable.

Several of the pieces have bits and streaks of fat on them. One piece (depicted below) has a hole in it, looking very much like a blood vessel, almost peering at me like an eyeball. Otherwise, no gristle or tendon.

Overall, it's a very good meat consistency.

Trader Joe's Beef Jerky - Organic Original

Trader Joe's Beef Jerky - Organic Original
Product Value

I paid $4.99 for this 4oz bag at a Trader Joe's in Temecula, CA. That works out to $1.25 per oz, putting this in the lower end of average priced.

For general jerky snacking purposes, it offers a decent value, because while it has very little taste, it's still doesn't taste bad, and has a great meat consistency. That still contributes to a fair snackability. And if you consider the low price of $1.25 per ounce, it makes a for a decent purchase if all you want is some meat to snack on.

For being an organic variety, it's a great value. You're not going to find much organic jerky out there at this low of a price. Even though it offers little in the way of taste, that may actually be of lesser concern to you if eating organic foods is important.

I think maybe the only circumstance I'd buy this again is for the low salt content. Too many brands out there pack their jerky with tons of salt, and I find the salt to really wear me out. I actually find this variety of Trader Joe's jerky to be a relief in that regards.

Rating

I'm giving this jerky a fair rating.

As with other beef jerkies from Trader Joe's, it just doesn't have much taste. If a jerky can't provide much natural meat flavors, then at least provide taste in the seasonings and marinade. This lacks in both. Otherwise, this jerky's only saving grace is the great meat consistency.

Being an "organic" variety is not really anything you can taste, though I'm sure organic food freaks may argue. I can prove it by saying this particular organic jerky has no taste at all. Therefore, the only reason to buy this is to satisfy an ideology of eating organic.

I think this jerky really falls short on two levels, one because it was obviously put through a tenderization process to make it "soft and tender", which thereby removed all of the meat's natural flavors. But second because, it's not really that soft and tender. It's still has some toughness to it. If you're going to sacrifice the natural meat flavors for the soft and tender consistency, then at least make it very soft and tender.

I think a good beer to have with this is a hoppy beer, like an IPA.

Rating: Fair

Where to buy:
  • At any Trader Joe's store

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