Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ju Ju Jerky - Spicy Turkey

Ju Ju Jerky - Spicy TurkeyJu Ju Jerky is a relatively new brand of jerky, having broken into the market in 2004. Their focus is on infusing jerky with Caribbean style flavorings.

I had only discovered this brand just a week ago at a local grocery store, while trying to look for beef jerky free of preservatives, and sure enough that's also what Ju Ju Jerky specializes in.

The company is also based in Southern California, so I'm not sure if folks across the states are able to find this in their stores. Ju Ju Jerky does offer sales online.

Last Friday, I reviewed their Turkey Jerky, and gave it a "best" rating. So going into this Spicy Turkey Jerky, I have very high expectations.

Ingredients

Turkey, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, brown cane sugar, lemon pepper, hickory smoke flavor, spices, onion powder.

These ingredients are exactly the same as their plain Turkey Jerky. I'm guessing there's extra stuff in their "spices".

Taste

The taste is pretty much what I recall in Ju Ju's plain Turkey Jerky, with the difference that it is indeed a bit more spicy. It's not hot at all, I'd consider this mild. Lesser-experienced tongues might see this as medium-hot.

The primary taste that comes out of this is the worcestershire sauce, and sweet. After that, I notice the unique Caribbean style flavorings, some garlic, the lemon pepper.

Just like with the plain Turkey Jerky, there isn't much saltiness with this, which is backed up by the fact that the nutrition label shows only 170mg of sodium, probably the lowest level of sodium I've seen with jerky. To me, that's great. I don't like salty jerky.

As for the Caribbean style flavor blend, honestly I can't tell you if this actually mimics what you might find in the Caribbean islands, since I'm not familiar with that cuisine. But I can tell you that I'm definitely tasting a spice blend that is very unique, and something that I can't put to words.

While the flavoring is very good, I don't taste much in the natural turkey meat flavors. The flavoring is so thick and varied, that you don't really notice the meat taste. In fact, I'd have trouble noticing this as turkey. In softening up a piece in my mouth, and sucking out the juices, mostly what I get is the taste of flavorings, not so much meat.

Between the plain Turkey Jerky and this Spicy Turkey Jerky, I like the spicy better. I'm just partial to spicy foods, that's all. If anything, I was kinda expecting something more spicy than this. I mean, I expecting "hot". This is actually just slightly more spicy than the plain. But then again, the packaging doesn't say that it's "hot", just "spicy".

Meat Consistency

These appear to be real slices of meat, sliced in average to thin thickness, and are very easy to tear apart and chew.

The package claims this to be "Moist and Tender", and I would have to agree. The pieces are not dry by my standards. They are very tender, and offer a moist and sticky touch.

I don't find much in the way of tendon or gristle in this review sample. I don't see much fat either; these appear to be very lean pieces.

Overall, the meat consistency provides a very enjoyable jerky experience.

Ju Ju Jerky - Spicy Turkey

Ju Ju Jerky - Spicy Turkey

Product Value

I paid $5.99 for this 3.25 ounce bag at an Albertson's grocery store in Menifee, CA. That works out to $1.84 per ounce, putting this in the average price range, but at the upper end.

This definitely provides a great value as a turkey jerky. You often think of turkey jerky as tasting "foul", because that's what it is, a bird. But Ju Ju's brand of turkey jerky is so loaded with flavor that you'd never know it was turkey.

It has great snackability with its complex taste, moist and tender chewing, and overall excellent jerky experience. I can't stop reaching for more.

Not to forget, that this contains no sodium nitrite. Considering that this comes without preservatives, and is able to taste this great, makes it icing on the cake.

Rating

Ju Ju Jerky - Spicy TurkeyI'm giving this a "best" rating.

This is basically the same as the company's plain Turkey Jerky, which I also rated as "best", but just a little bit spicier. To me, that makes it little bit better.

Being easy to eat, packed full of unique flavoring, free of preservatives, and very low in sodium, I can't see how you'd go wrong buying a bag.

Rating: Best

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pacific Gold Beef Jerky - Teriyaki

Pacific Gold Beef Jerky - TeriyakiThe Pacific Gold brand of beef jerky is a brand owned by Oh Boy! Oberto, and appears to be their answer for folks who demand beef jerky made with natural ingredients and made with no preservatives.

While Pacific Gold appears to be free of preservatives, it's not really made with all natural ingredients. Rather, they bill it as "natural style". What exactly is "natural style"? It's really just jerky that appears to be real beef jerky. If you consider that Oh Boy! Oberto owns other brands of beef jerky made with "beef meal", or is "formed beef jerky", then it makes sense that beef jerky made with real cuts of meat, would be called, "natural style".

Consider that the actual Oh Boy! Oberto brand of beef jerky also carries the "Natural Style" labeling.

Pacific Gold beef jerky only comes in larger 8oz bags, instead of the standard 4oz bags.

Ingredients

Beef, brown sugar, soy sauce, corn syrup, water, dextrose, flavorings, salt, pineapple juice concentrate, natural smoke flavor, lactic acid starter culture.

Taste

Mostly what I taste is the soy sauce, and just a slight sweetness from the brown sugar. I can't really say that this tastes like teriyaki, however. It appears that Pacific Gold tried to emulate teriyaki by mixing soy sauce with sugar, except didn't put enough sugar in it.

Otherwise, what's left over is a saltiness and an "old meat" taste. In fact, the meat resembles more like Oh Boy! Oberto meat.

The meat itself offers some natural meat flavors, but like I said, more like old meat. I guess that's what you get when you don't add the preservatives. You know, most brands offering preservative-free jerky either load up on the flavorings, or they pack their jerky in vacuumed-sealed packages. Pacific Gold simply added one of those "oxygen absorption" packets. I'll bet this would taste better if they used vacuumed-sealed packages.

Overall, the taste of the meat is not that bad, it's actually ok. I'm just being a critic. The teriyaki taste is sorely lacking however, tasting more like soy sauce than actual teriyaki sauce.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be real cuts of meat, sliced average thickness in medium to large pieces. There are almost no crumbled pieces in the bottom of the bag.

The pieces are very easy to tear off and chew. I'd classify these as being dry, with a slight bit of moistness.

Pacific Gold says this jerky comes from top round steak. The pieces appear to be very lean. I don't find much at all in fat, tendon, or gristle.

Pacific Gold Beef Jerky - Teriyaki

Pacific Gold Beef Jerky - Teriyaki

Product Value

I paid $10.99 for this 8oz bag at a Shell Station in Temecula, CA. That works out to $1.37 per ounce, putting this in the average price range.

I'd say this teriyaki variety provides some good value, considering it's easy to eat, offers "OK" taste, and is free of sodium nitrite. But it doesn't really live up to its billing as a teriyaki variety. If you love teriyaki beef jerky, you may find yourself having wasted $10.99.

In terms of snackability, it's fair. My problem is that the taste is uninteresting. Having eaten about 3 ounces into this review, I'm already feeling uninspired to eat the remaining 5 ounces.

Rating

Pacific Gold Beef Jerky - TeriyakiI'm giving this an "average" rating.

I actually toyed with giving it a fair rating due to its mediocre taste, but because it's easy to eat, and is free of tendon and gristle, I'm stepping it up to "average". The fact that it's preservative-free is to be commended, but this brand just didn't do a good job of giving it some good taste. The Ju Ju Jerky and Alien Fresh Jerky brands both are preservative-free, and yet earned "best" ratings from me.

Pacific Gold has other varieties, Peppered, Hot & Spicy, and Barbecue. It may be that I'll find a favorite in those.

Rating: Average

Visit product online:

Friday, May 23, 2008

Ju Ju Jerky - Turkey

Ju Ju JerkyJu Ju Jerky is a brand that I only discovered today while replenishing my supplies of jerky for review. I found it at my local Albertson's grocery store here in Southern California.

The company appears to have gotten its start in 2004, offering four varieties of jerky, two of them beef, and two of them turkey. In this article, I'm doing a review of their "original" turkey jerky.

The Ju Ju Jerky brand is focused on marrying jerky with caribbean style flavors, and doing it with no preservatives. Leaving out the preservative is something that I took notice of since I'm now trying to escape from sodium nitrite jerky.

Ingredients

Turkey, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, brown cane sugar, lemon pepper, hickory smoke flavor, spices, onion powder.

Sure enough, no sodium nitrite listed.

Taste

All I can is "Wow!", this turkey jerky has a fabulous taste, and tons of it. There is a clearly evident sweetness to it, and I can detect the worcestershire sauce too. As I let the pieces soften up in my mouth, and I can continue to extract more flavor.

Probably the first taste that hits me is a combination of the sweet, pepper, and worcestershire sauce. I can also detect some garlic too. The pepper adds a slight spiciness to it, something I'd consider mild, but maybe medium hot to some others.

A couple of pieces contained an extra shot of lemon peel, perhaps from the lemon pepper. I found it to be a welcome surprise, adding only more to the flavor complexity.

It's not overly salty either. The nutrition label backs that up, with only 170mg per serving, compared to 400-700mg for most other big brands.

As for tasting the natural turkey meat flavors, I can't really taste much of it. In fact, if I didn't know this was turkey, I'd think it was beef. There is so much flavoring in there, that I don't really taste any natural meat flavors. The consistency does resemble something like turkey however, that is it doesn't tear apart the same way that beef does.

This turkey offers excellent taste, plenty of variety in flavorings, and a mild bit of spiciness.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be real cuts of meat, sliced in average to thin thickness, and in medium to small pieces.

Just as the packaging says, these are indeed "moist and tender". They're very easy to tear apart, and very easy to chew. I find myself breaking apart a piece with my fingers, and then sucking on a piece to extract all the flavors, and it almost melts in my mouth.

I don't see much at all in the way of fat or tendon, but I did find one piece with a streak of gristle. However it was still easy to eat. Otherwise, these are very lean pieces.

Ju Ju Jerky says they use only free range turkey.

Ju Ju Jerky - Turkey

Ju Ju Jerky - Turkey

Product Value

I paid $5.99 for a 3.25 ounce bag at an Albertson's grocery store in Menifee, CA. That works out to a price of $1.84 per ounce, which is in the average price range, but towards the upper end.

As a general turkey jerky, this offers excellent value, with tons of flavor, plenty of flavor complexity, and is very easy to tear apart and chew. I can't stop reaching for more of this stuff.

Better yet, it contains no preservatives, and no sodium nitrite. Combine that with its great taste, and you've got something worth your money.

I can't tell you if this jerky lives up to its billing as a "caribbean flavored" jerky, since I'm not familiar with that style of cuisine. But it does indeed offer a flavor combination that I haven't encountered in any kind of jerky.

Rating

Ju Ju Jerky - TurkeyI'm giving this a "best" rating.

I always put extra weight on the "snackability" of a jerky, and this definitely has me savoring each piece and wanting more. It provides an excellent jerky experience, being tender and moist, and providing an abundance of complex flavors.

In trying to find something negative to say about this, I can't find anything aside from that I don't taste much any of the natural turkey flavors. I always like to taste some resemblance of the meat itself. But then I never really was a big fan of turkey jerky anyways. But I love the seasoning blend so much that I'm going to overlook it.

I'm going to have get me the two other beef jerky varieties of theirs.

Rating: Best

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pemmican Beef Jerky - Teriyaki

Pemmican Beef Jerky - TeriyakiPemmican is one of the top selling brands of beef jerky in the United States, manufactured by Con Agra Foods.

But "pemmican" is also an Native American term that identifies a type of food that resembles beef jerky. This food is not quite the same as beef jerky, but similar. Pemmican is pounded "beef meal" that is mixed together with other ingredients.

In that sense, the Pemmican brand of beef jerky might be similar to the original pemmican, because it has a similar consistency.

Ingredients

Beef, sugar, water, soy sauce, salt, less than 2% of monosodium glutamate, wine, vinegar, flavoring, brown sugar, succinic acid, maltodextrin, corn syrup solids, sodium nitrite, lemon juice solids, soy lecithin.

Taste

Being that this is a teriyaki variety, I expected to get a good taste of teriyaki, but I don't find a lot. I do indeed taste some teriyaki, just not a great deal.

Most of what I taste is a something of a meaty taste, but it doesn't taste much like actual steak. If anything it has something of a "old meat" taste, or a "rank taste" to it. I'm thinking its the tenderization process that gives it this strange taste.

There is a lot of salt taste in this, in fact that's what I probably end up tasting the most. I can also sense a bit of the soy sauce, but as an aftertaste.

Overall, this jerky has an "ok" taste. It's not a great taste, or even a good taste, it's just enough to pass muster.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be made from real cuts of beef muscle, sliced in medium to thick thickness, and in small pieces.

These pieces are very soft, in fact that's what strikes me the most with this sample of Pemmican, it's very tender. It's not necessarily moist, though some pieces are moist, it's just soft.

I also find this to be somewhat oily to the touch, but not too much that it requires cleaning. But I do find myself rubbing my fingers together to remove what layer of oil that got picked up.

I can see a fair amount of gristle in these pieces, but the tenderization process appears to have removed the toughness of the gristle. I do find a fair amount of fat.

Pemmican Beef Jerky - Teriyaki

Pemmican Beef Jerky - Teriyaki


Product Value

I paid $4.99 for this 3.65 ounce bag at a Stater Bros market in Menifee, CA. That works out to $1.38 per ounce, putting this in the average price range.

Probably the only value I'm finding in this is the high level of tenderness in these pieces. Otherwise, I don't consider this to provide a great beef jerky experience due to its high salt taste, somewhat strange meat flavor, and oily consistency. As a teriyaki variety, it doesn't even provide much teriyaki taste.

Rating

Pemmican Beef Jerky - TeriyakiI'm giving this a "fair" rating.

Just eating this, you get a quick sense of mediocrity from the strange meat taste and oily consistency. If all you need is a protein fix, maybe this will do, but then again, why bother with this when there are so many other better tasting brands?

The high level of salt is always turn off for me, and the fact that as a teriyaki variety it doesn't taste much like teriyaki. But it's still "acceptable" enough that I'd eat it, and not toss it to the dogs.

Rating: Fair

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Oh Boy! Oberto - Hickory Beef Jerky

Oh Boy! Oberto Beef Jerky HickoryOh Boy! Oberto enjoys the largest market share of beef jerky sales in the USA, and it's largely due to its branding, as well as its bright, eye-catching, packaging. The brand only makes a handful of beef jerky varieties, and despite it's rather small and ordinary offerings, the brand manages to outsell all other brands.

It doesn't necessarily make great beef jerky, but it's still good enough to satisfy most snackers.

Hickory smoked-beef jerky is something you don't see as often anymore, with mesquite smoke flavoring taking over much of the varieties now. But hickory is a type of smoke flavoring that I happen to like very much, and I personally think has an aroma that goes really well with jerky.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Stater Bros. Beef Jerky - Original

Stater Bros. Beef Jerky - OriginalMost people have not heard of "Stater Bros.", as it's a chain of grocery stores limited to Southern California, but it's a chain that's pretty popular among locals, and one known for its full service meat department.

While their meat department is famous, it's brand of beef jerky isn't. I hadn't realized they offered their own brand until shopping there a few weeks ago. I picked up this bag of Original flavored beef jerky, as well as their Peppered variety (read review).

In the Peppered variety, I had said it tasted exactly like the Albertson's brand, and was probably made by the same private labeler.

Ingredients

Beef, water, sugar, vinegar, salt, maltodextrin, flavorings, monosodium glutamate, spice, sodium erythorbate, citric acid, sodium nitrite.

Taste

The first thing that I taste with this Original variety is the mesquite smoke flavor, salt, and something that resembles soy sauce, though soy sauce is not mentioned on the ingredients (it's probably the MSG). For plain beef jerky, this stuff is pretty plain.

I do taste quite a bit of the natural meat flavors, just as I did with Stater Bros' Peppered variety. Many of the pieces (at least in this bag), contains some fair amount of fat marbilization, which adds that oily texture that you can only get from a real steak.

Overall, this brand and variety of beef jerky provides a pleasant taste, albeit a pretty plain one.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be cuts of real beef muscle, sliced medium thickness, and in mostly small pieces. For an average sized bag, I would have liked to see more larger pieces, just so that I could satisfy my carnal craving for ripping apart flesh.

Most of these pieces are on the dry side, but not terribly dry. Some require a bit of effort to tear apart and chew. One particular piece was almost like rawhide. Otherwise, several other pieces were easy to eat.

Most of these pieces have a fair amount of fat marbilization, and I found a similar number that contained some chewy tendon and gristle. This is all consistent with Stater Bros' Peppered jerky.

Stater Bros. Beef Jerky - Original

Stater Bros. Beef Jerky - Original

Product Value

I paid $3.50 for a 3.65 ounce bag, which works out to $1.04 per ounce, putting this into the "average" price range, but on the border with cheap.

Overall, this jerky provides an average value. While it offers good taste, there are still several pieces that require some effort to chew, either because the meat is tough or there's quite a bit of tendon and/or gristle. The fact that it's priced lower than most brands is what makes this a decent buy.

As an "Original" variety of jerky, it's pretty plain. I do enjoy tasting the natural meat flavors in this, but found myself wanting to taste some additional layer of flavoring. There are plenty of original varieties that can offer something more than just sodium.

Rating

Stater Bros. Beef Jerky - OriginalI'm giving this a "fair" rating.

Perhaps it's only saving grace is that it offers a decent amount of natural meat flavors. Otherwise, the taste is pretty uninteresting, not bad, just nothing great.

What prevented it from the higher rating of "average", is that too many of the pieces were difficult to chew. While the majority of the pieces were still easy, there was still too many that were difficult. I always expect at least one or two pieces to offer some chewing challenges, I'd say somewhere from 25% to 40% offered some kind of difficulty that ruined the overal beef jerky experience.

Rating: Fair

Where to buy: Any Stater Bros. grocery store

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wal-Mart Great Value Beef Jerky - Peppered

Wal-Mart Great Value Beef Jerky - PepperedThe "Great Value" brand is probably Wal-Mart's greatest brand, representing thousands of products found around the home, pantries, and refrigerators. And as such, their offering of beef jerky is quickly building up as a popular buy by many snack food eaters.

The peppered variety remains my favorite of all beef jerky varieties, just because I love the taste of black pepper, particularly when mixed with steak.

Just like I mentioned in my review of Wal-Mart's "Sweet & Hot" beef jerky, there offering leaves me wondering if Jack Link's is their private labeler. These pieces have a look, aroma, and taste that resembles Jack Link's. But who knows.

Ingredients

Beef, water, sugar, corn syrup solids, salt, maltodextrin, dried soy sauce, monosodium glutamate, flavoring, hydrolized corn protein, spice, sodium erythorbate, paprika, smoke flavor, sodium nitrite.

Taste

Mostly what I taste is the black pepper. There is a good amount of it visible on each piece. There is also a slight sweetness, but it's the same slight sweetness you tend to find on much of the big brand jerkies. The saltiness is light, in fact the nutrition label shows 370mg per serving, which is on the lower end compared to most jerky.

There is some slight taste of the natural meat flavors. You have to keep a piece in your mouth for about 10-15 seconds, chew on it slightly, and suck out the juices. But it's there. Would prefer to taste more, but then again, you get what you pay for.

Overall, it has a good taste, plenty of peppery flavor, but aside from that, nothing else spectacular.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be real cuts of beef muscle, sliced in average thickness, and in medium to small pieces.

The pieces are soft and tender, and easy to tear apart and chew. They are not "dry" as far as jerky goes, but not moist. They're just soft. I did find one piece that was stood out as being dry.

I can see some fat marbilization in these pieces, and found some chewy tendon in many of them.

Some of these pieces have that rubbery like consistency, "gummy jerky", that Jack Link's is known for, further suggesting that it was made by them.

Wal-Mart Great Value Beef Jerky - Peppered

Wal-Mart Great Value Beef Jerky - Peppered

Product Value

I paid $2.98 for this 4 ounce bag, making that $0.75 per ounce, within the cheap range.

I consider this to be a pretty good value, maybe even a "Great Value", considering it's largely an average beef jerky at a low price. I've had more expensive beef jerky that basically tasted no different. If what you're looking for is a decent beef jerky, with lots of black pepper taste, at a low price, this is the stuff.

As a peppered variety, this lives up to its claim.

I could see myself buying more of this, just to enjoy some peppered beef jerky for a low price.

Rating

Wal-Mart Great Value Beef Jerky - PepperedI'm giving this an "average" rating.

It's still an average beef jerky. While it offers plenty of black pepper taste in a black pepper variety, it offers very little natural meat flavors. I would like to taste something extra to compliment the black pepper.

But as a beef jerky in general, it's still good.

It also offer plenty of snackability, keeping you reaching for more.

Rating: Average

Where to Buy: Any Wal-Mart.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bridgford Beef Jerky - Sweet & Hot

Bridgford beef jerkyThe Bridgford brand of beef jerky is the nation's third largest brand in terms of market share, behind Oh Boy Oberto! and Jack Link's. Yet, it's probably one of the most obscure of all the top selling jerky brands. That's perhaps a testament to their expertise in getting their products in the most visible places.

The Sweet & Hot variety is a flavor sensation that many beef jerky brands are picking up on. It's actually been around for awhile, but it seemingly is becoming more mainstream in recent years. I've always preferred spicy beef jerky, but I do enjoy a jerky that swims in sticky, gooey, finger-licking, sugary goodness.

Ingredients

Beef, Water, Salt, Sugar, Flavoring, Monosodium Glutamate, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite

Taste

Despite being labeled as a "Sweet & Hot" variety, I can't taste much in terms of sweet. In fact, this variety doesn't taste any more sweet than an "original" or "plain" variety of jerky. While the ingredients list does list sugar, you can certainly taste a slight bit of sweetness, but again, it's nothing more than what you'd expect to taste in a regular variety of beef jerky.

As for being "hot", this a joke. I don't taste any hot at all. There is indeed a fair amount of black pepper, but if that's what they classify as "hot", then I've been ripped-off. Even after finishing the whole bag, I'm not even reaching for a bottle of water.

Most of what I taste in this is a slight sense of natural meat flavors, black pepper, and some salt.

This jerky doesn't taste bad on the other hand. It has a decent taste, and is enjoyable. If Bridgford called this "peppered", I'd be somewhat more satisfied. However, the taste that this jerky offers doesn't really strike me as being unique. It tastes like regular, plain old jerky, with some black pepper on it.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be made from real cuts of beef muscle, sliced to an average thickness, and in medium to small pieces.

For the most part, these pieces are on the dry side, with a few pieces being somewhat more moist. They are somewhat easy to tear apart and chew.

I found one piece with quite a bit of fat, which most people probably would not like, but is something I happen to enjoy. I didn't find much in the way of tendon or gristle.

Overall, the meat consistency provides an enjoyable beef jerky experience.

sweet and hot beef jerky

sweet and hot jerky

Product Value

I bought this at a Walgreens store in Menifee, CA and had a price of $3.99 per 3 ounce bag. That works out to $1.33 per ounce, putting it into the average ballpark, but at the lower end. Walgreens has a deal where if you buy two bags, you get them at $3.50 per bag, making it $1.17 per ounce. Either way, it's priced at the lower echelon of average.

As a beef jerky, it provides good value. It's for the most part easy to eat, and provides some good taste. But as a "Sweet & Hot" variety, it's a rip-off. If you crave a beef jerky that burns your mouth and satisfies your sweet-tooth at the same time, you'll be disappointed by Bridgford's offering.

I found the jerky to have good snackability, keeping me reaching for more. Even as I composed this review, I found myself satisfied eating this at the same time. As low-priced as it was, you might find this good as a snack while you're busy something else.

Rating

Bridgford beef jerky nutrition factsI'm giving this a "fair" rating.

It's mostly because it falls flat on its face as a "Sweet & Hot" variety. If they had labeled this simply as a "Peppered" variety, I would have given it a higher rating, at "average".

It's still a decent beef jerky just for snacking. But otherwise, it doesn't stand out as offering you something unique and exceptional. It's largely what you'd expect to get from the nation's third largest brand of beef jerky.

Rating: Fair

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Jack Link's Beef Jerky - Pepperoni

Jack Link's Beef Jerky - PepperoniJack Link's continues to introduce some of the most innovative beef jerky flavors, and this Pepperoni variety is another curiosity that picques my interest.

While most of Jack Link's series of beef jerky has largely rated as "average" on this blog, I can't help wanting to try their new flavors. Perhaps it's part of their sales strategy.

The pepperoni variety was introduced about a year-and-a-half ago, and represented the first-ever beef jerky to come with a pepperoni flavoring.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Stater Bros. Beef Jerky - Peppered

Stater Bros. Beef Jerky - PepperedStater Bros. is a chain of grocery stores found only in Southern California. They've built a reputation as having the best fresh meat counter of all the grocery chains in SoCal.

They're also very popular with families who've lived in SoCal all their lives, based on the fact that the company has invested itself heavily into its own employees, willing to negotiate labor contracts favorably with labor unions as opposed to the national chains who've often been unwilling to talk.

I've never had their store brand of beef jerky before, but decided I needed to write a review. Aside from Peppered, they also offer an Original variety.

It appears the private labeler that made this jerky also made the same jerky for Albertson's. The beef jerky has the same appearance and aroma, and the packages have the same ingredients list, and exactly the same nutrition label. They even have the same computer lasered "best if eaten by" label, just different dates. Please refer to my previous review, "Albertson's Beef Jerky - Peppered".

Ingredients

Beef, water, sugar, vinegar, salt, maltodextrin, monosodium glutamate, flavorings, spice, citric acid, hydrolized corn protein, sodium nitrite

Taste

This particular bag of Stater Bros. peppered jerky has more visible pepper than the one offered by Albertson's. However, I can't say that it tastes more peppery than the Albertson's brand. It's about the same.

For the most part, what I taste is a peppery flavor, not very overpowering, some natural meat flavors, and some saltiness. It's not overly salty, similar to the Albertson's brand. There is some slight sweetness that you notice only on a few pieces. After that, there's isn't much other taste to enjoy.

There is some slightly smokiness as well.

The natural meat flavors are well evident. You can get even more beef taste by chewing on piece slightly, and keeping it in your mouth for about 20-30 seconds, and extracting the juices.

Meat Consistency

These are made with real slices of beef muscle, sliced medium, and in small to medium sized pieces.

Overall, these pieces are dry, but not too tough. Some pieces are somewhat tough. Ease of chewing and tearing apart probably ranges in the medium to slightly tough range.

I found that most pieces contain some tendon, making things a bit chewy, but nothing you can't swallow.

Stater Bros. Beef Jerky - Peppered

Stater Bros. Beef Jerky - Peppered

Product Value

I paid $3.50 for a 3.65oz bag, working out to $1.04 per oz, putting into the medium price range, but at the border with cheap. Compare that to the Albertson's brand, wehre I paid $1.25 per oz.

Overall, it provides good value for being priced this low. You get a jerky with good natural beef taste, with some average pepper flavor. I prefer more pepper flavor than this, so it might not be something I'd buy again. But it does offer some good snackability for general beef jerky enjoyment.

Rating

Stater Bros. Beef Jerky - PepperedI'm giving this an "average" rating.

Stater Bros. Beef Jerky gave me the impression that its an average "garden variety" jerky, offering good taste and "fair" experience as a beef jerky, but didn't offer anything that stood out as different or exceptional. The somewhat tough meat consistency detracted a bit from the overall enjoyment, but it's still not that tough.

This is a jerky that Stater Bros. wanted in their product offering just so that it could offer a decent beef jerky at a low price point. It's good just to keep your jaws working, without grossing out your taste buds.

Rating: Average

Buy this from any Stater Bros. store.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Jim Beam Beef Jerky - Barbeque

Jim Beam Beef Jerky - BarbequeJim Beam Beef Jerky is something that hit convenience stores by storm in late 2004. It's a product of Thanasi Foods, LLC, based out of Boulder, CO.

The company managed to get Jim Beam Brands Co. to license its name out to another product for the very first time in its history. Thanasi originally used the name for its line of Jim Beam Sunflower Seeds in 2003, and then a year later introduced the beef jerky.

In 2005, Thanasi actually won an award from CSP Magazine, for its beef jerky, as the best new product in the meat snack category. CSP Magazine serves the convenience store and gas station industries.

It wasn't until 2006 that Thanasi extended the beef jerky line to the Peppered and Barbeque varieties. Thanasi Foods, LLC specializes in combining favorite snack foods with a well-known brand as a special ingredient. They also offer "Frank's Red Hots Beef Jerky".

From what I can tell, Thanasi doesn't make their own beef jerky, it's private labeled.

Ingredients List

Beef, water, brown sugar, salt, sugar, BBQ seasoning (fructose, salt, chili powder (chili pepper, spices, salt, dehydrated garlic), less than 2% of dehydrated onion, dehydrated garlic, spices, spice extractives, natural smoke flavor (maltodextrin), yeast extract, dextrose), genuine Jim Beam Bourbon, seasonings (high fructose corn syrup and/or sucrose, water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavors), hyrolized soy protein, black pepper, spices, garlic powder, white pepper, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite

Taste

The first thing I taste in this Barbeque variety, is just a slight barbeque taste with some good spiciness. It's a tad on the salty side. It has the same factory smell and taste that you come to know from a brand like Jack Link's, in fact I wonder if they might be the company that made this.

As for Jim Beam Bourbon, I can't taste much of it. It doesn't have any kind of dominating smell or taste of bourbon. If you didn't know this was marinated in bourbon, you'd never know it. The only way to taste the bourbon marinade is to chew and suck on a piece for awhile, and then you can "kinda" taste it. But you have to be a regular Jim Beam drinker to identify it.

But there is no alcoholic stupor that comes from eating this. I cannot taste or sense any alcohol at all, zip, zero, nada. All I can detect is a subtle Jim Beam aftertaste.

For the most part, this tastes like "regular" or "original" beef jerky, with some spiciness to it. But I would not classify this as "hot". Maybe "mild" to "medium hot".

As for the natural meat flavors, there appears to be some. I had to chew up a piece first, soften it up, and then suck out the juices, and then think hard if I could taste any. And then sure enough, I tasted some.

Overall, it has good flavor if you like spicy beef jerky, or salty beef jerky.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be real slices of meat, cut into average thickness, and in small bite sized pieces. Keep in mind I bought the 1.7 oz bag, instead of the standard 3.5 oz bag.

The pieces are somewhat soft, and on the dry side. I would not classify this as "soft and tender". But it's certainly not hard or tough. For the most part it's easy to tear apart and chew. It's probably better to just chew a piece slightly and suck on it a little, to get more flavor out of it.

There is some marbilization of fat in these pieces, but otherwise the fat isn't much noticeable.

Most of the pieces were easy to eat, and I didn't find much in tendon or gristle.

Jim Beam Beef Jerky - Barbeque

Jim Beam Beef Jerky - Barbeque

Product Value

I paid $2.99 for this small 1.7oz bag at a 7-Eleven in Murrieta, CA. That works out to $1.76 per oz. That's in the average-price ballpark.

As a beef jerky it has good value. It offers a pleasant beef jerky experience, not too tough, not too soft. There's plenty of spicy flavor, and it has great snackability, keeping me reaching for more.

But as a beef jerky that sells itself as being marinated in Jim Beam Bourbon, it falls on its face. If I were a Jim Beam drinker, and beef jerky lover at the same time, I end up feeling ripped off.

Note that the official website for Jim Beam Beef Jerky, actually requires you to verify your age, as if only persons 21 years and older are allowed to learn about this jerky.

Rating

Jim Beam Beef Jerky - Barbeque - Nutrition FactsI'm giving this an "average" rating.

This Barbeque variety is basically a good beef jerky for general purpose snacking. It's what you'd come to expect from all of the large commercial brands. It does offer some good spicy flavor, and it's easy to eat.

But because it promotes itself as being soaked in genuine Jim Beam Bourbon, you expect to taste the bourbon, or experience something on a totally different level. But alas, there's none of it.

Rating: Average

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Alien Fresh Jerky - Teriyaki

Alien Fresh Jerky - TeriyakiThe Alien Fresh brand of jerky has become one of my favorite brands of jerky, based on their Sweet & Spicy and their Cowboy varieties. So it was with great expectation that I opened this package of teriyaki beef jerky. I had never tried this variety, but wanted to see if it was good as the others.

Travelers along Interstate 15 going to Las Vegas, from Southern California, have become familiar with this brand because of its road signs along the freeway. Many stop into the tiny desert town of Baker to get gasoline, have a burger at the Bob's Big Boy, and then stop in at the little Alien Fresh Jerky shop to check out the wares.

Taste

The ingredients list shows the following: Whole slices of beef, teriyaki sauce (soy sauce, water, wheat, soy beans, salt, brown sugar), garlic, spices. It specifically says, "No MSG". Note that it doesn't contain any preservatives, or sodium nitrite.

What I taste right away is a taste of teriyaki, not a thick taste, but it's there. It's also very sweet, like teriyaki is always is. And I taste quite a bit of the natural meat flavors. Finally, there is some slight smokiness in there.

You can taste a bit of the salt in here, but it slight. And I prefer jerky that way.

I happen to prefer beef jerky that actually tastes like beef, the meat that is, and this particular variety doesn't disappoint in that regards, just like the other varieties offered by Alien Fresh.

You can tear off a piece, chew it slightly, and let the flavors slowly dissolve into your mouth as you extract the juices out. At this point, you can really taste the natural meat flavors in all their smoky glory.

Meat Consistency

Just like Alien Fresh says, these are real slices of meat, sliced medium to thick, and in medium sized pieces. Some are smaller bite sized pieces.

I found these pieces to be tough, not extremely tough, just tough. The larger pieces have a somewhat softer consistency, but still takes some work to tear apart and chew. But overall, it doesn't distract too much from the enjoyment. The meat is on the dry side, but there is a layer of teriyaki basting that makes the pieces look moist. It leaves just enough residue on your fingers that you'll need to lick them off.

Most of these pieces contained some tendon, requiring some extended chewing.

Product Value

Alien Fresh Jerky sells their 4oz packages all for $8.00 each, which works out to $2.00 per oz, in the high price range. But they offer a "Buy 3 for $20.00" deal, which works out to $1.67 per oz, putting into the medium price range.

As a beef jerky, this does offer some good value in that you're getting something does a pretty job of retaining the natural meat flavors with a teriyaki covering. It's not overly salty, and is something a beef jerky connoiseur can enjoy.

The teriyaki flavor is not strong, it's more like something to enhance this jerky's flavor.

But I found the toughness to be something of a distraction, that seems to subtract from the overall enjoyment of this product, but it wasn't too terribly bad. I've had a lot tougher jerky than this. The pieces of tendon I found in here also distracted somewhat.

Still, the great taste of smoked meat comes through in this, and offers great jerky enjoyment.

Alien Fresh Jerky - Teriyaki

Alien Fresh Jerky - Teriyaki

Rating

I'm giving this a "good" rating.

This is a pretty good jerky for enjoying as a beef jerky. It also provides some great snackability, in that it kept me reaching for more. I found myself wanting to savor the flavors, slowly sucking on each piece.

The tough consistency kept this from reaching a higher rating. In addition, I always like to taste a couple of contrasting flavors in jerky, such as sweet & spicy, or chile and lime, etc. So while there is some good teriyaki flavor in here, it might have been nice to experience just a bit of black pepper or ginger.

But just for its great meat taste, great snackability, it's a jerky that I'd like savor while sitting my backyard listening to the birds.

Rating: Good

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