Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cactus Jerky - Hot & Spicy

Cactus Jerky - Hot & SpicyI found this package of Cactus Jerky at a Whole Foods Market the other day, and found myself needing to try it, for one because I'm always willing to give something a try, and two because it sounded like something I had to get on this blog.

Dubbed as "cactus with a conscience", the package is marked with little signs and sayings on how good this is for your body. It mentions that it's, "not endorsed by the beef people, hee, hee". It goes on to say that this brand of cactus jerky originated at Rancho Santa Elena in Malibu, CA, where indians used to live. Except now, this stuff is manufactured in Mexico.

(And we all know how healthy processed vegetables are in Mexico, right?)

Anyways, this product is produced by Cactus Jerky, Inc., who has its main office in Corona Del Mar, CA, and apparently has a trademark on the words "cactus jerky". They go on to claim this product as "Vegan".


Cactus, teriyaki, organic cane juice, dried chile, fresh garlic, onion & spices.


The first taste I get from the surface of these pieces is a sweet taste, and a plant-like taste. The spiciness begins to work. Moving into the chew, I'm getting more of the sweetness, and more of the spicy flavor.

That "plant-like" taste is very similar to dried seaweed. Not the tissue-thin stuff used with sushi, but the thicker-salted cuts that Japanese folks like eat.

The predominant taste in the chewing is similar to black licorice, but not as sweet, and crossed with seaweed.

For being advertised as a hot and spicy variety, it does indeed stand up to that claim. I'm getting a moderate mouth burn, but not anything that makes me reach for something to drink. I'd rate it as "medium" on my hot scale.

I'm also getting a saltiness, but it's slight, and it's mostly something sits behind the cactus flavor, sweetness, and spiciness. The other spices of garlic, onion, and teriyaki are not well noticed.

Overall, the predominant taste of this jerky is that lightly-sweet black licorice taste with a resemblance to seaweed, with the spiciness coming in at second, and the saltiness coming in at third. In my opinion, I don't really find this to be all that appetizing. However, for being a vegan jerky, it's some of the best stuff I've had, second only to that Pineapple Jerky.

Meat Consistency

These are apparently slices of whole prickly pear cactus leaves (minus the needles), sliced average thickness compared to meat jerkies, and in strips of about 4-5 inches in length. When I hold a piece up to the light, I can see the "veins" running through it.

It's somewhat moist, but mostly as a gummy quality. It's just a little bit more dry than a piece of licorice, but just as chewy. Pieces of it get stuck to the recesses of my molars and feel like bits of slimy licorice. It does take some effort to bite off a piece, but it's not that bad if you bite through it with your canine incisors.

It's actually somewhat dry on the outside, despite the teriyaki coating, and leaves my fingers clean.

Cactus Jerky - Hot & Spicy

Cactus Jerky - Hot & Spicy
Product Value

I paid $3.99 for this 1.5oz package at a Whole Foods Market in Irvine, CA. That works out to a price of $2.66 per ounce, making this an expensive jerky.

For general jerky snacking purposes, it's provides a poor value. I didn't find much snackability in this. The taste is not very appetizing. I suppose if you like black licorice mixed with seaweed, you might like it. I'm not really much into gummy candy, so I don't really find much satisfaction in the way it eats.

As a hot and spicy variety, it does hold a decent value. It certainly is spicy, though not totally hot, more like medium. If priced lower, it would offer a better value.


I'm giving this a dog treats rating.

Actually, I was debating over "dog treats" or a "fair" rating. I chose dog treats because I really don't want to eat this again. The jerkies I've rated as fair I could still eat; they're just not anything that pleases me. This cactus jerky had a taste that I could stomach much better than the soy jerkies I've reviewed before, but I still felt like that little boy sitting at a dinner table, propping his head up with his arm, delaying over the broccoli.

However, I did actually eat the whole contents of this package. And believe it or not, I still have a teriyaki variety of this cactus jerky to go through.

To me, cactus jerky is another oxymoron. We Americans typically perceive cactus leaves as something you eat when you're stranded in the middle of a desert with no water. Except this jerky removes all the water from the cactus. So, the only point of eating this is to enjoy the flavor of cactus. I'm not sure that's a strong selling point. But since this company is targeting vegans for its sales, I suppose vegans are constantly searching for new foods, and here they have another one.

As for a good beer companion, any beer will do to get rid of that taste in my mouth.

Rating: Dog Treats

Where to buy:
  • Whole Foods Market

1 comment:

  1. I am a vegan for many years and I didn't really like this either. However, I thought it was slightly better tasting than the Tamari Cactus Jerky. But I wouldn't buy either flavor again.