Monday, June 30, 2008

Divine Bovine - Honey Teriyaki

Divine Bovine - Honey TeriyakiThe Divine Bovine brand of beef jerky is a product of Beaumont, CA-based Divine Bovine Enterprises. The company describes it's story as beginning in Southern Italy when a butcher discovered that the best meat for making beef jerky is beef brisket. He developed a great recipe which was handed down to his grandson, who then started the Divine Bovine brand.

In addition to this Honey Teriyaki variety, the company also offers "Wild Honey Teriyaki", which is similar but with chile peppers added.

The company touts all of its products as having no nitrates, no MSG, and no preservatives.

Ingredients

Beef brisket, teriyaki sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, garlic powder, worcestershire sauce, honey and pepper.

Taste

Probably the first thing I taste is the natural meat flavors of the beef brisket, followed very quickly by an intense sweetness. Finally, the saltiness is very noticeable.

The teriyaki flavor is there, but it's mostly manifested as saltiness. I can detect the soy sauce flavor, but it's subtle. The salt is largely what comes from the teriyaki sauce ingredient. It's not so salty that it leaves my mouth scorched, however.

The high level of sweetness makes this jerky almost like eating "meat candy".

The natural meat flavors are very evident, but seem to have a slight "stale taste" to it. While this is free of preservatives, Divine Bovine didn't put this into a vacuum-sealed package, and did not include an oxygen absorber. The stale taste is not strong, however.

Overall, this has a really great taste. If you're a fan of sweet beef jerky, this stuff will make you happy. But it's largely a sweet & salty variety, the teriyaki flavoring is more subtle than pronounced. This is also very mild, not spicy at all.

Meat Consistency

This appears to be cut from real meat, sliced thin, and in medium sized strips. Because of the nature of thinly-sliced beef brisket, and honey and brown sugar making this sticky, most of the strips are clumped up, and difficult to unravel. For that matter, you could see these pieces as being bite-sized.

This jerky is very soft, and very easy to eat. They tear apart with no effort. I'd classify this as being "semi-moist", not dry.

Most of these pieces have some fat-marbilization, and I found at least one piece with some siginificant pieces of fat. I actually found this to provide a more "beefier" taste. Some pieces had some small strands of tendon on the edges, otherwise no gristle or anything that demanded my attention.

The meat consistency is pretty good, giving me a great beef jerky eating experience. Being that this is so easy to eat, with a great taste, I could go through this package pretty quick.

Divine Bovine - Honey Teriyaki

Divine Bovine - Honey Teriyaki
Product Value

I paid $5.99 for this 4oz package at a Stater Bros. grocery store in Menifee, CA. That works out to $1.50 per ounce, putting this into the average price range.

I'd say you're getting a great value. This jerky is packed with lots of flavor, offering a great taste, and is very easy to eat. That makes it extremely snackable. As a teriyaki variety, it's does offer a teriyaki taste, but it's largely overshadowed by the heavier sweet & salty flavor.

Rating

Divine Bovine - Honey TeriyakiI'm giving this a "good" rating.

This is very enoyable variety of beef jerky, very easy to eat, and offering plenty of good flavor.

What kept me from giving it the higher "best" rating is that I found it to be on the salty side, and the meat has a slight stale taste to it. I tend to think that this might actually have a pronounced teriyaki flavor; it's just hard to find it behind the heavier sweet & salty flavor.

Still, I enjoyed eating this jerky, and could see myself eating some more. It's very snackable.

Rating: Good

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Friday, June 27, 2008

House of Jerky - Turkey Teriyaki

House of Jerky - Turkey TeriyakiHouse of Jerky is a small, but well known brand in the field of gourmet jerky, relying on a national network of small beef jerky stores, and a website optimized for search engines.

Teriyaki turkey jerky is perhaps the most popular form of turkey jerky, and probably also the most popular form of jerky period. Probably the biggest reason has to do with the fact that combining both sweet and salty into a snack food has been one of the fastest growing flavor combinations in the industry.

I had previously reviewed a teriyaki turkey from Smokey's Beef Jerky, which received a "best" rating from me. So I thought I'd put this rival offering from House of Jerky to test.

In addition to this teriyaki variety, House of Jerky also offers a black pepper turkey variety, which already received a "best" rating from me as well.

Ingredients

Turkey breast, teriyaki sauce, brown sugar, honey, pineapple juice, water, liquid smoke, black pepper, garlic powder, ginger powder.

Taste

The first thing I notice is a thick sweetness of teriyaki and honey, followed by the taste of teriyaki. The taste of ginger comes through afterwards, and then finally I can detect the natural meat flavors.

Even though black pepper is listed in the ingredients, and is visible in sparing amounts, I don't really taste it. It probably only provides a "taste ambiance".

The natural turkey meat flavors are there, but the thick sweetness of the sugar and teriyaki masks much of it. I tend to taste more of it after several chews, and sucking out some of the juices. Turkey meat's unique taste is still evident in these pieces; you still know that you're eating turkey, it's just not as well defined as it is in the company's black pepper turkey variety.

Despite this variety not containing any artificial preservatives, it has a fresh taste.

Overall, this is a good teriyaki turkey jerky. It offers a good and sweet teriyaki flavor, some natural turkey meat flavors, and some ginger can be detected too. It's not that salty, even though the nutritional label an average volume of sodium. After having eaten several bites, I can sense a black pepper aftertaste.

Meat Consistency

These are real cuts of turkey meat, sliced in average thickness, and in medium sized pieces.

The meat is generally dry, but with a thick layer of sticky sweetness. I found the pieces to be moderately easy to tear apart and chew, with a little bit of extra effort required here and there, but overall offering a good jerky experience.

One piece had a small bit of tendon that I couldn't chew through, and ended up pulling out of my mouth and tossing into the trash. Otherwise, I didn't find any fat, or gristle; these are mostly lean cuts of turkey.

There is enough stickiness to these pieces, that you'll have to lick your fingers each time you tear off a piece.

House of Jerky - Turkey Teriyaki

House of Jerky - Turkey Teriyaki
Product Value

House of Jerky sells this through their website at a price of $10.50 for a 4oz package, making that an average price of $2.63 per oz, which makes it rather expensive. The company says that this price includes shipping. I've been able to find their jerky at lower prices when visiting one of their outlet stores.

But I'd still say this offers a good value, considering it's hard to find really good turkey jerky. The terikyaki turkey jerky from Smokey's Beef Jerky, which I'm comparing this to, is actually priced cheaper than this, and got a "best" rating from me.

Rating

House of Jerky - Turkey TeriyakiI'm giving this a "best" rating.

I actually sat on the line between the "good" and the best" rating. While this is indeed very good, I found this to be somewhat bland. But it's largely the same jerky as their teriyaki beef, which I gave a "best" rating to. I'm thinking that maybe this particular review package (which contains only 2oz) might have been an exception. But since the company sent me several varieties of their jerky for free, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt.

I still like the contrast between the sweet teriyaki, and the pungent taste of ginger powder. It gives it more of an Japanese experience. I probably would prefer to taste more of the black pepper, just to break the blandness, but that's just a personal preference of mine.

On the other hand, I'm just being a nit-picky critic. Most people who love teriyaki turkey jerky will find this to be exceptional.

I also found this to be very snackable, always wanting to reach for more.

Rating: Best

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Sodium Nitrite Free Beef Jerky

The following brands and varieties of jerky are free of sodium nitrite...

Sodium nitrite is used to cure and preserve meats. It has been linked to colon cancer and lung disease. If you're going to eat a lot of beef jerky, it's probably best to stick with sodium nitrite-free jerky.

Alligator Jerky



Beef Jerky



Buffalo Jerky



Cactus Jerky



Clam Jerky



Elk Jerky



Ostrich Jerky



Pineapple Jerky



Salmon Jerky



Soy Jerky



Turkey Jerky



Venison Jerky



For more information about sodium nitrite and its uses in beef jerky, read Wikipedia's article...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_nitrite

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Golden Island Pork Jerky - Grilled Barbecue

Golden Island Pork Jerky - Grilled BarbecueGolden Island is a brand of jerky that specializes in marrying together the flavors of asian cuisine with beef jerky, or in this case, pork jerky.

It's parent company, Universal Food Company, has been around since 1952, and was better known for its brand of "Formosa" asian snack foods. It wasn't until 2002 that they launched the Golden Island brand to take advantage of the high-protein, low-carb craze.

It's products are limited largely to Sam's Clubs in the western United States, and in specialty food stores. I've even found them in Fry's electronic stores.

A couple of years ago, I was contacted by a marketing representative for Golden Island, who sent me a package of this very same Pork Jerky for review on Junk Food Blog. She explained to me that this stuff was meant to mimic the very same BBQ Pork that you'd find at a chinese restaurant.

Ingredients

Pork, sugar, soy sauce, fructose, soybean oil, mirin wine, salt, michiu wine, spices, sodium nitrite cure, sodium erythorbate, disodium inosinate & disodium guanylate, BHT.

Taste

These pieces are indeed sweet, which I guess is similar to the sweet glaze you often find on chinese dishes like Orange Chicken, and BBQ Pork. Probably the next thing I taste is the smokiness, followed by the natural meat flavors.

I guess I'd have to say that this tastes like pork. It doesn't taste like beef, but then again I can't say that this has a definite pork taste. But it does indeed taste just like the BBQ Pork dish you'd find at a chinese restaurant, but perhaps more like a chinese buffet or take-out, rather than a family-style restaurant.

Another thing I notice right away is the amount of oil on these pieces. Actually, that might be the very first thing my tongue notices, the oily texture.

It's not very salty at all.

Overall, I think this Pork Jerky tastes good. I find it rather snackable, though I keep wanting to find an extra flavoring in there. I think Golden Island ought to add some kind contrast to the heavy sweet flavor, maybe a bit of asian-style chili sauce, or even some diced garlic. As it is, it's sort of on the bland-side.

Meat Consistency

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

The meat is semi-moist, with an oily glaze on the surface. I find myself having to lick my fingers before typing. These pieces are very easy to eat and chew. They tear off with the grain very easily, and only slightly more effort against the grain.

I don't find any pieces of tendon or gristle as I did with the two Golden Island beef jerkies I reviewed previously. I found a couple of pieces with small bits of fat. Otherwise, this jerky is very lean.

Overall, this pork jerky has a consistency that's quite enjoyable, and provides a great jerky experience for snacking.

Golden Island Pork Jerky - Grilled Barbecue

Golden Island Pork Jerky - Grilled Barbecue

Product Value

I paid $5.99 for this 4oz bag at a Cost Plus World Market in Temecula, CA. That works out to $1.50 per oz, putting this into the average price range.

This jerky provides a great value in my opinion. For the price, this is easy to tear apart and chew, with no tendon or gristle to get in your way, and actually tastes like the same BBQ Pork you'd expect to find at a chinese restaurant.

For snacking purposes this is what you want, something that satisfies without demanding too much of your attention, aside from having to clean off your fingers everytime you take a bite.

Rating

Golden Island Pork Jerky - Grilled BarbecueI'm giving this a "good" rating.

The only thing that kept me from giving this the top rating, is that it's still rather bland for jerky. Albeit the company wanted to emulate the same BBQ Pork you'd find at a chinese restaurant, the fact is that not all BBQ Pork is the same from one chinese restaurant to another. Some is spicier, some is sweeter, etc.

I'd like to see this add that one extra flavor ingredient that contrasts against the sweet, like a chili-sauce, or bits of diced garlic. Then you'd have a pork jerky that offers awesome taste and great eating.

Otherwise, it's still great for snacking, especially if you're in the mood for some chinese food.

Rating: Good

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Stonewall's Jerquee - BBQ Beef

Stonewall's Jerquee - BBQ BeefStonewall's Jerquee is a brand of snacks that bills itself as the world's best tasting vegetarian jerky, claiming to offer the same great chewing pleasure of real meat jerky.

Having tried a few vegetarian jerkies, I opened this package with some doubt, but questioned if this might be somewhat good after all. I mean, it actually has something of a smokey aroma, though clearly different than real meat. It actually looks like it might taste good.

The Stonewall's Jerquee brand is owned by Lumen Foods of Lake Charles, LA, which makes a variety of other soybean-based foods.

Ingredients

Defatted soy flour, purified water, soybean oil, autolyzed yeast, fructose, tomato paste, mustard, honey, molasses, onion, garlic, peppers (cayenne and white pepper), lemon, vinegar, spices, salt, and potassium sorbate.

Taste

This brand of soybean jerky has a similar taste as the other vegan-jerky brands I've had, though not quite as harsh, perhaps because this stuff appears to be more dry. It still has that semi-sour milk taste that was left in a bowl of Lucky Charms. But I found I was able to chew it long enough and swallow without gagging.

The BBQ beef flavoring does come through, but mostly as a pepper taste, and only after the first 10 seconds of chewing. But I can't really say that this tastes like BBQ beef. This just tastes like all the other vegan jerkies, but just drier.

This does have a more salty taste than the other brands, however.

The company recommends microwaving these pieces, but I couldn't get myself to do so. I was starting to grow weary.

Consistency

These pieces are about the size of a chicken nugget, or maybe a little smaller.

They're somewhat greasy, leaving a fine film of oil on your fingers.

They also chew like a sponge. You can bite down on them fairly easily, but once they reach maximum compression, it becomes hard, just like biting down on a dish-washing sponge.

Once you're able to chew this, it feels more like a McDonald's Chicken McNugget that was nuked in a microwave for too long, and hardened up. Kinda chewy, kinda tough, but resembling nothing like meat.

And just why would a vegan want a product that eats like real meat? I thought they didn't care for meat. Like I said in my other reviews, this is proof that vegans secretly desire to feast on animal flesh.

Stonewall's Jerquee - BBQ Beef

Stonewall's Jerquee - BBQ Beef

Product Value

I paid $1.89 for this 1.5oz bag at a Sprouts store in Temecula, CA. That works out to $1.26 per oz, within the average price range for jerky.

I'd say that as a soybean-based jerky, this actually offers great value. Of all such jerkies I've tried, this actually has the best taste I've encountered thus far. But don't get me wrong, it's still nasty in my opinion, just not as nasty.

But as a BBQ Beef variety, it fails terribly. This tastes nothing like BBQ beef, it doesn't resemble anything I might find from a BBQ grill, not even the charred-black chunks of BBQ sauce. All it offers is a peppery taste that takes about 10 seconds to show itself.

Rating

I'm rating this as "dog treats".

As in the other vegan-jerky reviews I've written, I can't understand why a soybean-based product has to taste so bad. Having grown up around Japanese-cuisine, I've eaten a lot of soybean foods. The Japanese are probably the kings of soybean innovation, making a wide variety of soybean snacks, all of which tastes quite good. And I'm a guy who loves real meat.

I'm thinking companies like Lumen Foods, have an awful lot to learn from the Japanese.

Rating: Dog Treats

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Primal Strips Meatless Jerky - Teriyaki

Primal Strips Meatless Jerky - TeriyakiMeatless jerky, or vegan jerky, or soy jerky, or tofu jerky, or whatever you want to call it, is my way of knowing that vegans are secretly wishing they could eat animal flesh.

Some of the stuff out there is just god-awful, even as just a soy-based snack, it doesn't even taste good on its own, let alone as a beef substitute. I found that disappointing. As someone with some Japanese ancestry, I've eaten a lot of soybean products, including miso soup, soy crackers, and tofu itself, and all of which tastes really good in my opinion. So I couldn't figure out why "soy jerky" has to taste to awful.

My guess it's because these companies are trying to make something that tastes like meat. What a great hypocrisy! Here we have vegans, who swear that they have no desire to eat meat, and yet companies are producing a vegan-food that tastes and resembles meat as closely as possible.

Primal Strips is a brand owned by Primal Spirit, Inc., based out of Moundsville, WV. Their mission statement says their goal is to make a meatless jerky product that appeals to both vegetarians as well as non-vegetarians. The company goes on to say that years ago they ran into an old Thai chef who introduced them to a meat alternative recipe that they thought was the best ever. When their friends agreed, they decided they had a gold mine on their hands.

So, will this offering from Primal Strips fare any better than the other vegan-jerkies I've reviewed?

Ingredients

Non-GMO vital gluten, water, naturally brewed soy sauce, expeller pressed canola oil, licorice root, unrefined evaporated cane juice, yeast, sea salt, natural vegetarian spices.

Taste

This stuff largely tastes similar to the other vegan-jerkies I've reviewed, though not quite as bad. I think I said in reviewing Tasty Eats Soy Jerky that it tasted like sour milk that had been soaking in a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal. This has a similar taste, but I think it's got more of the salt and soy sauce coming through.

I think that Thai chef the company described probably sold the same recipe to the other companies.

It definitely has the same chemical smell that remains on your fingers, even after washing my hands with soap.

It doesn't taste anything like meat, in case you're wondering.

It doesn't taste anything like teriyaki, either.

Consistency

This stuff is probably the most meat-like of all the vegan-jerkies I've seen. It tears apart like jerky, it has fibers that fray like jerky, and it feels just like real meat in my mouth. If you put this into my mouth, and I was blindfolded, I'd think this was real meat, but more like cold left-over pot roast where the sauce had spoiled.

It tears apart very easily, and chews easily.

It's also very moist. It's so moist that I'd wouldn't call this jerky. It's more like deli-meat.





Product Value

I paid $5.15 for this 4oz bag at a Sprouts store in Temecula, CA. That works out to $1.29 per ounce, putting this into the average price range.

Assuming that you're a vegan, or a vegan-wannabe, who is wanting to satisfy your inner urge to eat animal flesh, I'd suppose this is a good value. You're getting something that really does resemble meat, albeit, very wet and soaked piece of meat.

But if you love the teriyaki flavor, you'll be sadly disappointed.

If you love great tasting soy products, you'll also be disappointed.

Rating

Primal Strips Meatless Jerky - TeriyakiI'm rating this as dog treats.

I really wanted to find a vegan-jerky that actually tastes decent. So far I haven't found one. It doesn't have to taste like meat, it just has to taste good. I'm impressed that they made this feel like real meat, but they failed at making it taste good.

I ate about 1/3rd of a strip, probably more than the other vegan brands I've tried. I guess the dogs are getting some goodies tonight.

Rating: Dog Treats

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Golden Island Beef Jerky - Chili Lime

Golden Island Beef Jerky - Chili LimeThe Golden Island brand specializes in fusing together the more popular asian flavors Americans enjoy and infusing them into beef jerky.

I never exactly knew where the "chili lime" flavor combination came from, but I know that I see it in many recipes these days. Golden Island says it came from the cuisines of Thailand and Vietnam. For some reason, I thought it had its roots in hispanic cultures.

Golden Island is owned by Universal Food Company, a third generation family-run business that started in 1952 as a manufacturer and wholesaler of specialty meat products in Taiwan. In 1983, they began producing asian food products for specialty markets in the USA under the "Formosa" brand. In 2002, they launched the Golden Island brand of beef jerky.

I always felt that Golden Island's approach at infusing asian flavors into beef jerky is a great idea. I just wonder why they haven't expanded it beyond the same four varieties they've offered over the past several years. If I might make a suggestion to them that could help sales, try getting some better meat, or find a better meat processor.

Ingredients

Beef, chili lime seasoning (modified corn starch, maltodextrin, sugar, spices, salt, corn syrup solids, citric acid, onion, garlic, paprika, natural flavors, extractive of paprika, lime oil, silicon dioxide), sugar, soy sauce, lemon juice, soybean oil, salt, crushed red chili pepper, potato starch, chili powder, natural lemon emulsion, citric acid, paprika, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite cure, yellow #5, garlic powder, onion powder, disodium inosinate & disodium guanylate, red #40.

Taste

Biting into a piece, what I taste first is this citrus flavor, not necessarily lime, or lemon, or orange, just citrus. The citrus flavor is not that strong either. It's noticeable, but it doesn't hit you with a baseball bat. In fact the pieces probably have a stronger citrus aroma than they do taste.

The chili seasoning is noticeable too, but is not strong. This jerky is not hot by any means, it's not even medium hot, just mild. Even if you're not used to hot foods, I think you'll consider this mild as well. That's a disppointment because the package makes the claim that this is "HOT".

The natural meat flavors are also noticeable, but again, not very strong.

I can't even say this is very salty either, which is a good thing for me. I don't like salty jerky.

There is another taste in this, and is probably the result of some other chemical ingredient. But it gives off the taste of real chinese food. If you were at a Chinese restaurant, digging into a piece of orange chicken, or mongolian beef, there's this "chinese-like" taste you experience that is present at all chinese restaurants. This jerky has it too.

Overall, this jerky has a decent taste. I would prefer to taste more lime and more chili. I think adding a third flavor ingredient would make it more interesting.

Meat Consistency

These are real cuts of meat, sliced in medium to thick slices, and in small, medium, and large pieces.

There is just way too much gristle in this. Take a look at the close-up photo below, where I centered a line of gristle running up one of the slices. Every medium and large piece had gristle either running up the middle, or along the sides. Most bites I took contained some chunk of gristle. I found myself pulling off strips of it, or nibbling the meat off of it.

The pieces range from soft and tender, to hard and dry. Once piece was very tough to eat. I found another piece, by contrast, that was soft and semi-moist. Overall, I'd say that these pieces are dry, and require a moderate amount work to tear apart and chew.

I did find some small chunks of fat on some pieces.

Golden Island Beef Jerky - Chili Lime

Golden Island Beef Jerky - Chili Lime

Product Value

I paid $5.99 for this 4oz bag at a Cost Plus World Market in Temecula, CA, working out to a price of $1.50 per ounce. That puts this in the average price range.

I'd say this jerky has a fair value. The taste is ok, possibly even good. But the meat consistency detracts too much from the overall enjoyment of this jerky. It's mainly the abundance of gristle that turned me off. The fact that it requires some effort to tear apart and chew is worth mentioning, but I can overlook that if the taste is great. In this case, it's not "great".

As a "chili and lime" variety, this does offer the taste, but just not enough of it. If you're going to market something as "chili lime", it ought to taste plenty like it.

Rating

Golden Island Beef Jerky - Chili LimeI giving this a "fair" rating.

The biggest thing I look for is "snackability", meaning how well does this satisfy my urge for snacking? I don't feel that compelled to keep reaching for another piece. I'm at the last piece, as I write this sentence, and already I'm thinking of handing it off to my dogs.

If the meat consistency were softer, easier to tear off and chew, and didn't contain any gristle, I would probably keep reaching for more. The taste is good, but just enough of it. Being this is a chili-lime variety, it needs more chili and lime.

Rating: Fair

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Rio Jakes Beef Jerky - Original

Rio Jakes Beef Jerky - OriginalI was shopping in a local Cost Plus World Market hoping to find some beef jerky, and wondering if they might be carrying stuff imported from outside the USA. Instead, I found this brand of Rio Jakes, made right here in the States.

Rio Jakes is a brand owned by Mirab USA, the world's largest private labeler of beef jerky. While most of Mirab's beef jerky is made for other companies, Rio Jakes is one of their actual brands.

At the top of the package is the claim, "Soft & Tender", which is Mirab's flagship beef product, a result of studies showing that women would buy more beef jerky if it were only softer and more tender. This soft & tender variety is what helped bring about a shift in the overall beef jerky market away from a man's snack found in camping & sporting goods aisles, to a dieting fad powered by the Aitkins weight-loss craze.

Note that Mirab's "Soft & Tender" product is the same product packaged into several other store brands that private label through them. I don't particularly know what these store brands are. Mirab makes about four different grades of beef jerky, with "Soft & Tender" being one of them. The review I'm writing here can apply to every other store brand made from this same grade.

Ingredients

Beef, water, sugar, salt, garlic powder, maltodextrin, monosodium glutamate, black pepper powder, apple cider vinegar, sodium tripolyphosphate, sodium erythorbate, citric acid, sodium nitrite.

Taste

Probably the first thing that hits me when I taste a piece is a slight sugary sweetness, followed soon after by the black pepper. Finally the salt starts to take over and dominates. The smokiness is also noticeable.

The natural meat flavors are not every evident at all. In trying to find something that resembles meat, I do taste it back there, but it's something I have to think about to notice it.

Overall, it's good. It's just not anything to write home about. It's a jerky designed to be priced competitively and sold to the masses, with little attempt to compete against the gourmet brands.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be real cuts of meat, sliced in medium thickness, and in small to medium sizes. Most of these pieces are in crumbles. Perhaps the jerky was made so tender, that they broke apart the shipping and settled to the bottom of the bag.

This jerky is definitely soft and tender, being more semi-dry than semi-moist. The pieces tear apart very easily, in fact I'd probably describe this as "breaking apart" than tearing. Mirab's tenderization process doesn't produce the "gummy jerky" that Jack Link's is known for; this still retains the fiber-like consistency of real meat, but leaves the it in such a state that you know it was chemically altered in a laboratory.

Overall, it provides a good beef jerky experience. Being that Mirab designed this jerky to appeal to both men and women, in a competitively-priced product, I think they've done a good job.

Rio Jakes Beef Jerky - Original

Rio Jakes Beef Jerky - Original

Product Value

I paid $3.99 for this 3.5 ounce bag at a Cost Plus World Market in Temecula, CA. That works out to a price of $1.14 per ounce, putting this in the average price range, but on the lower end.

Overall, it provides good value. The lower price point is what prevents the value from getting any worse. The jerky itself is actually mediocre, tasting good, offering a good experience, but is largely drab and unexciting. If it were priced at $1.50 per ounce, I'd say this stuff has an average to fair value.

Rating

Rio Jakes Beef Jerky - OriginalI'm giving this an average rating.

While the taste itself would rate an average rating, I entertained the thought of giving this a fair rating instead due to the strange meat consistency. But I decided to refrain because it's not really that strange.

For beef jerky lovers, this isn't something you'd savor and enjoy for its own merits. It's just something you'd dig into while watching a movie or driving down a long lonely stretch of highway.

Rating: Average

Friday, June 13, 2008

Divine Bovine - Wild Honey Teriyaki

Divine Bovine - Wild Honey TeriyakiDivine Bovine is a small start up company specializing in gourmet beef jerky. I just discovered this brand while shopping at a local grocery store in my neighborhood.

According to the company's website, it tells the story of a butcher named, "Pops", living in a small village in Southern Italy. He loved to make beef jerky and discovered the most tender and sweetest cut was beef brisket. Pops' grandson then decided to bring this unique beef jerky recipe to market and launched it as Divine Bovine.

They also make the claim to be preservative free, with no nitrites.

In addition to this Wild Honey Teriyaki variety, they make two other varieties, Original, and Honey Teriyaki.

Ingredients

Beef brisket, teriyaki sauce, (soy sauce, wine, sugar, water, salt, spices, onion powder, succinic acid, garlic powder), brown sugar, lemon juice, garlic powder, seasoning (chili peppers, dehydrated garlic, salt, spices), worcestershire sauce, honey, and pepper.

Taste

The first thing I taste is the sweetness followed quickly by the spiciness of the chili peppers. This is very sweet, and very spicy. I'd estimate this as "medium hot", and that's considering I eat a lot of spicy foods. Other folks might see this as just "hot".

The natural meat flavors do come out in this just a little, particularly if you chew a piece up just a little, let it sit in your mouth for 10-15 seconds, and then suck out the juices.

Being free of preservatives, this jerky manages to avoid any kind of stale, or rank, meat flavor, even though it's not vacuum-sealed like many other preservative-free jerkies.

There's also some saltiness evident in here, but it doesn't overwhelm my taste buds. That's mainly because the intensity of the sweet and spicy dominates the flavor. The nutrition label does show 590mg of sodium per serving, which is on the high side.

Overall this has a very good flavor, very sweet, and very spicy, with some saltiness in the background. You probably won't notice too much of the natural meat flavors, however.

Meat Consistency

These are made from real cuts of beef, or beef brisket as the company specifies. It's sliced thin, and in small to medium sizes.

These are very soft and tender pieces. I'd say these are semi-moist, not dry at all. Considering how easy this is to eat, you could go through a package of this jerky very quickly.

I did find some pieces with more than their fare share of fat, but otherwise not much in tendon or gristle.

Divine Bovine - Wild Honey Teriyaki

Divine Bovine - Wild Honey Teriyaki

Product Value

I paid $5.99 for this 4oz bag at a Stater Bros. store in Menifee, CA. That works out to $1.50 per oz, putting this into the average price range.

For that price, I'd say this offers great value. It's packed with a lot of sweet and spicy flavor, it's very easy to tear apart and chew, contains no sodium nitrite, and is so snackable it'll keep you wanting more. If you like spicy hot jerky, this will give it to you.

Rating

Divine Bovine - Wild Honey TeriyakiI'm giving this a "best" rating.

With lots of flavor, offering both extremes in sweet and hot, very easy to tear apart and chew, and too irresistible not to keep eating, I was very impressed with this particular variety from Divine Bovine.

Oddly enough, this variety looks and tastes very much like Alien Fresh's Sweet & Spicy Premium. The ingredients lists are very similar, they both use beef brisket, and they're manufactured by the same meat processor. It's enough to make you scratch your head and wonder, "Hmmmmm!". I called up Divine Bovine on the phone, and talked to one of the company's founders, and he explained that while both companies do use the same processor, each provides its own recipe and meat. I guess it's just one of those things.

Rating: Best

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tasty Eats Soy Jerky - Original

Tasty Eats Soy Jerky - OriginalJerky made from soy beans is something of an oxymoron in my book. Mainly because the companies that make this stuff are trying to make it look, taste, and tear apart like beef jerky. Proof that vegans are secretly wanting to eat real animal flesh.

The problem is that most soy jerky, including tofu jerky, fails miserably at coming even close to something like beef jerky. So when I tried this brand of Tasty Eats Soy Jerky, I figured it would be another god-awful tasting belly-ache.

The result? Well, it's another god-awful tasting belly-ache.

And by the way, this brand of jerky (if you can even call this jerky), comes double-bagged, with a vacuumed sealed bag inside of an outer bag. I guess that's the preserve the freshness of the soy.

Ingredients

Textured soy protein (non-GMO), water, evaporated cane juice, expeller pressed sesame oil, spices, white pepper, salt, and caramel powder (from non-GMO cane juice).

Taste

I'll sum it up first, and give you the details later. This stuff is terrible. Absolutely awful. Digusting.

If I could compare this to anything, it would be like biting into soft turkey jerky, but tasting like milk that has soaked in a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal, and has soured up a little.

Unlike real beef jerky, in which the taste gets better as it softens up in your mouth, this stuff tastes worse and worse. I took a small bite, and chewed it a little, and couldn't stop my facial muscles from cramping my face into half of its normal size.

I had to take a swig of Coke just to swallow it, and didn't bother taking another bite.

This stuff also has the same smell of dog treats as the Tofurky Jurky I reviewed earlier, and it leaves the smell on your fingers. I had to take a shower after writing this just to get the "dirty feeling" off of me.

Consistency

While the photo I presented below makes this look like one giant glop of soy-mush, it's actually several small pieces that break apart. Each piece is bite-sized by jerky standards.

These are very soft pieces, with a slight bit of moisture.

And these actually tear apart like soft beef jerky, they even fray like fibers of real meat. Except you know it's not real meat. Even in my mouth, they feel like real meat.

Tasty Eats Soy Jerky - Original

Tasty Eats Soy Jerky - Original

Product Value

I paid $2.55 for this 1.5 ounce bag at a Sprouts health food store in Temecula, CA. That works out to $1.70 per ounce, putting this into the average price range.

I'd say this offers very little value. The only value is the small bit of protein, in an animal-free product. But considering that you can already get plenty of animal-free protein in bag of trail mix, it makes no sense why someone would pay $2.55 for a tiny bag of extremely horrible food.

I tried to evaluate this product on its own merits, and couldn't find any merits. I'm sure companies can make a soy product that actually tastes good. So why can't they just focus on making great tasting soy, instead of coming out with something so foul as this?

Rating

I'm giving this a "dog treats" rating.

Dogs are probably the better consumer for this product. Though you'd do better by buying real dog treats, it'll save you more money, and your dog won't think it was being punished.

I gotta believe that even vegans appreciate great tasting food, but I just can't understand anyone, including vegans, liking this.

Rating: Dog Treats

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