Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ring of Fire Beef Jerky

Ring of Fire Beef Jerky"I fell into a burnin' ring of fire. I went down, down, down, and the flames went higher. And it burns, burns, burns, this ring of fire".

Such was the testimony of one country crooner, describing a passion for something hot, relishing the rush of endorphins, but only getting burned in the end. That's largely what Mike & Diane's Gourmet Kitchen, Inc. has made a business of recreating with their popular brand of "Ring of Fire" hot sauce.

The El Cajon, CA-based company has enjoyed great success as a hot sauce manufacturer as evidenced by the many hot sauce blogs. The company got into making beef jerky about 10 years ago after Mike Greening, it's founder, had been making beef jerky for his own personal consumption. He would use his own Ring of Fire hot sauce as a marinade. It was a beef jerky distributor who had been selling his hot sauces that encouraged him to produce "Ring of Fire Beef Jerky" for resale. He hooked up with Glenoaks Food, Inc. of Sunland, CA, the maker of JC Rivers Jerky, to produce it. Glenoaks makes jerky without added preservatives.

Today, Ring of Fire Beef Jerky is sold in very few markets, with most of the sales coming from Ring of Fire's own website. The company largely uses this beef jerky as a promotional item, handing it out as a freebie for customers who buy their hot sauce in larger volumes.


Beef, soy sauce, Ring of Fire Hot Sauce, brown sugar, pineapple juice, hot pepper sauce, chili peppers, garlic, onion, black pepper, liquid smoke, white pepper, ginger.


The first taste I get off the surface of these pieces is a combination of sweet and the aroma of hot sauce. The burn from the hot sauce starts to work right away, while the unique flavors from the Ring of Fire sauce come into being. Moving into the chew, I can pick up some of the natural meat flavors.

I'd say the flavor that dominates this jerky is a combination of that sweet and hot sauce flavor. There's enough of that sweetness from the surface that it tends to last into the chewing, but it eventually fades away. The hot sauce flavor, however takes a little while to manifest itself, but it eventually becomes more pronounced.

Since I've never had Ring of Fire hot sauce, I can't actually attest to whether this jerky tastes like that brand of hot sauce or not. But I can tell you that this definitely has a hot sauce flavor, and not just "hot". That is, I can taste the vinegar in the hot sauce, it's garlic, and even a tomato-like taste. It's like everytime I chew down on this, a drop of hot sauce squeezes out.

As far as being hot, I'd rate this as medium-hot. Initially, I got a tingling on my scalp, and some moisture building up on my forehead, an indicator that the spiciness of this stuff is causing my heartbeat to quicken. Several bites into this, I have beads of sweat running down the back of my neck, my nose is starting to run, and my eyes getting misty. But I've yet to take a swig of water to quench the hotness, meaning it really isn't that hot. That's pretty much fine by me, because it let's me keep eating without interruption.

The natural meat flavors are present, but don't overpower this jerky. That might be ok because people would eat this jerky to enjoy the Ring of Fire hot sauce, not necessarily for the meat itself. It's for folks who want to experience the hot sauce in a beef jerky form factor. For being free of preservatives, it does have a slightly old/stale meat taste. But that hot sauce taste does a good job of diverting your attention.

The other seasonings in the ingredients list are hard to notice. I do taste a definite garlic taste, but I can't tell if that's from the Ring of Fire sauce or from the garlic seasoning itself. I can pick up some of the onion also. The saltiness is light. The soy sauce flavor can be found if you look for it; in fact you might also see this as a spicy teriyaki variety with the soy sauce, sugar, and ginger ingredients.

Otherwise, what you're getting from this jerky is a good dose of Ring of Fire hot sauce, with it's vinegar, garlic, and tomato flavors, combined with that sweetness from the surface. It's largely a "sweet & hot" variety. The natural meat flavors kinda sit in the background.

Meat Consistency

This appears to be slices of whole meat, sliced average thickness, and in medium sized pieces.

This is pretty much a dry jerky, even though the photos below make it look wet. It's the sugary glaze on the outside that makes it look that way. I found this rather easy to tear apart, and easy to chew.

It also chews like a real piece of meat, though somewhat tender.

One piece had a streak of fat in it, otherwise I found nothing chewy in the way of tendon, gristle, membrane other connective tissue.

Ring of Fire Beef Jerky

Ring of Fire Beef Jerky
Product Value

I paid $3.95 for this 1 ounce package at a Hot Licks store in San Diego, CA. I'll note that you can get this much cheaper by ordering it online directly from Ring of Fire at a price of $2.00 for the same package. But even at $2.00 per ounce, it's still expensive.

For general jerky snacking purposes I'd still say it has a great value, and that's largely because it has a great taste, and a great meat consistency. The flavor of this is very snackable, with a good deal of flavor complexity, and a strong burst of flavor throughout.

As a jerky flavored with Ring of Fire hot sauce, again I've never tasted that particular brand of hot sauce, so I don't know if you're going to taste something that tastes just like the sauce. However it is a hot jerky, though not that hot. But it definitely tastes like hot sauce, and not just hot. For that matter, I think it's also a great value.


I'm giving this a best rating.

This beef jerky from Ring of Fire Hot Sauce offers a hot-saucy flavor with all of its vinegar-garlic-tomato notes, combined with an excellent meat consistency. It's not just a hot beef jerky, it's a hot sauce beef jerky. But it's actually a sweet & hot jerky with a good deal of sugary sweetness from the surface to keep your sweet tooth in check.

Even though this particular jerky is not blazing hot, it's actually fine that way because it lets you eat this continuously without having to break for a swig of water. But then, that's only if your tongue has developed a tolerance for this stuff.

While the natural meat flavors in this are barely noticeable, the overall flavor of this jerky, or the many flavors of this jerky, I found tasty enough to warrant the best rating.

For a good beer companion, I'd recommend a creamy stout to sooth that burning tongue.

Rating: Best

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1 comment:

  1. How can a whole ounce of jerky (28 grams) only have 4 grams of protein? What else is this made out of besides meat?? Compare it to most jerky that is 15 to 20 grams per ounce since meat is pure protein.