Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snackmasters Beef Jerky - Range Grown Original

Snackmasters Beef Jerky Snackmasters is a brand of jerky that's been hard for me to find in Southern California stores. But it's apparently well known and loved in Northern California. An advertiser who's been wanting to do some business with me on another website I run, learned of my beef jerky addiction and sent me a couple packages of Snackmasters as a way to earn my flavor.

Based out of Ceres, CA, in the heart of California's agricultural industry, the brand has been around since 1982, starting out as a producer of turkey jerky. In fact, the company claims that it was the first ever producer of turkey jerky. They claim to use no preservatives and no artificial ingredients in any of their products.

This particular variety of jerky I'm reviewing here is from their "Range Grown" line, utilizing "certified" beef raised without growth hormones, antibiotics or animal protein, and fed on pastureland grasses, grains and feeds that test free of pesticides and herbicides. They also offer another line of jerky that doesn't make these claims.


All natural beef, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, liquid smoke, honey, vinegar, black pepper, spices.


The tastes I pick up from the surface is a moderate sweetness, a smoky flavor, and a slight saltiness reminiscent of the worcestershire sauce. In the chewing, I pick up a stronger worcestershire sauce taste, more of that sweet, hints of the soy sauce, some black pepper, and a faint garlic taste.

From what I've read about the Snackmasters brand, it's a flavorful jerky with a flavor that has won many taste awards. Well, I can honestly say that it is indeed very flavorful, with a good deal flavor intensity, as well as flavor complexity. And, it's a flavor that I find to be very delicious.

The taste of this jerky seems largely dominated by the worcestershire sauce, it's what I'd consider to be the top most noticeable flavor throughout the chewing. Second strongest is the sweetness from the honey, helping to provide a smooth contrast from the sharp bite of the worcestershire. The black pepper is what I'd rank as the third most dominant flavor, adding some depth to the overall flavor.

Largely absent, however is the natural meat flavors. I'm not really tasting anything that tells me this is beef. That's perhaps a disappointment since this particular variety is touted as being "range grown", without hormones and chemicals. I would have expected to get some great meat flavors. I did find one slightly thicker piece that seemed to have some of those flavors, but still we're talking slight. But being preservative free, it still tastes fresh.

The salt flavor intensity in this is moderate.

Here and there, I can pick up faint bits of other flavors, such as garlic, and the soy sauce, and one other spice that I can't quite identify, but I'm wondering might be oregano.

Meat Consistency

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

This is largely a dry jerky, though some pieces seems to have very slight amounts of moisture. But even as dry as this is, I found it rather easy to tear apart, and just as easy to chew.

The chewing texture is a very steak-like, fibrous character. Once it moistens up in my mouth, it chewed mostly like a well-done steak, maybe just a tad bit of mushiness.

I found one piece with a noticeable streak of fat, but otherwise the pieces looked very lean. I didn't find any pieces with tendon or gristle. However most of the pieces left behind small wads of chewy connective membrane in my mouth, but was easily swallowed.

In terms of clean eating, this jerky doesn't leave any residue on my fingers, but it does leave tiny meat fragments and chunks of black pepper on my lap.

Snack Value

Snackmasters sells this "range grown" original variety from its website at a price of $7.99 for a four ounce package. That works out to a price of $2.00 per ounce, putting this on the border between expensive and average.

For general jerky snacking purposes, it's a good value at this price. It's got a great deal of snackability I think with its delicious taste, intense flavor, and complex flavor. It's also easy to eat, despite its dry nature. I find it difficult to resist eating more.

As a "range grown" beef jerky, being free of hormones, antibiotics, chemicals, and fed mostly on pastureland grasses, you'd expect to get some great meat flavors. Instead you get none. For that matter, I don't think it's worth paying $7.99 for this "range grown" jerky, when you can pay $5.99 to get the company's regular beef jerky. Unless of course, it's an ideological thing about eating free range beef.


I'm giving this a good rating.

It was a teeter-totter decision between "best" and "good". First of all, this jerky doesn't offer any natural meat flavors, which is something I really want in a jerky. Therefore, it had to stand on the merits of its seasonings and marinade. But while they did combine together to provide a delicious taste, I had to decide if that taste was exceptional enough to be well beyond most jerkies.

I kept coming back to the thought that while this jerky tastes great, I've had many other jerkies that rated "good" with me, and those jerkies offered a great taste also. In other words, this jerky's taste is not well beyond other good-rated jerkies. It would have gotten that "best" rating had it offered a noticeable meat flavor.

But I'm just splitting hairs here. This "range grown" original variety from Snackmasters is still easily a delicious, flavor intense, and snackable jerky that I think you'll appreciate trying at least once.

My beer recommendation for this is a creamy, smooth stout.

Rating: Good

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