Sunday, August 31, 2008

Jedidiah's Beef Jerky - Private Reserve - New Sweet & Spicy

Jedidiah's Beef Jerky - Private Reserve - New Sweet & SpicyJedidiah's Jerky is a brand belonging to Jedidiah's Jerky and Gourmet Snacks based out of Laughlin, NV.

The business was started by David Coffey in 2005. Coffey is a veteran of the meat snack industry having started with Polley's Jerky in 1984, and launching another brand of his, River Run Jerky. His father worked in the jerky business before him.

The Jedidiah's brand was created to represent unique styles and recipes that appeal to the dedicated jerky snacker. This Private Reserve line of jerky is a soft and tender beef brisket variety, while their Premium line is the standard jerky.

You can watch a video of Coffey talking about his jerky...
http://www.thetalkmarket.com/video/product/446/

Noticing the ingredients list below, this variety contains "tapatia", which I assume is Tapatia sauce, a popular brand of hot sauce.

Ingredients

Beef brisket, soy sauce, brown sugar, Tapatia sauce, jalapeno peppers, lemon juice, garlic powder, black pepper, worcestershire sauce.

Taste

I get a strong sweetness upon putting a piece into my mouth. There's also a chile pepper flavor that comes through immediately as well. Salty is another significant taste that comes on strong. I can taste the soy sauce in there also.

For being advertised as a sweet & spicy variety, I'd say it certainly fits the bill. It's more sweet than it is spicy, however. If you want to differentiate "spicy" as opposed to "hot", it does have a lot of spicy flavorings that I can detect. The chile pepper taste, which perhaps comes from the Tapatia and jalapeno peppers, give it that spicy bite. But it's not very hot, at least not as hot as the company's Hot & Spicy Teriyaki, that I reviewed earlier. This is probably medium by my standards.

The saltiness is well defined in here, it's what I would classify as "too salty". The saltiness is actually the predominant taste in this. There's enough of the other flavors and seasonings that I can taste to offset the saltiness, but it's actually reverse. The other flavors and seasonings would come out a lot more if it weren't so salty.

The natural meat flavors do show up, but are hard to find mainly because the other flavorings drown it out. If anything there is a slight stale taste to this meat, but it's not really that bad. The flavorings and seasonings do a pretty good job to mask it.

This jerky is sprinkled with tiny jalapeno seeds. Every now and I then I bite into one and get a burst of jalapeno flavor.

Overall, this is jerky has a great taste, offering a complexity of flavors between the soy sauce, sweet, jalapeno pepper, Tapatia sauce, and salt. I could get addicted to this if it weren't so salty.

Meat Consistency

These are whole slices of beef brisket, and sliced thin. The strips are thin enough, and sticky enough, that they clump up into small bite sized peices.

This is a soft and tender jerky, being semi-moist. It's very easy to tear apart and chew. You don't even need teeth to eat this.

The stickiness I described remains in very small amounts on my fingers, but not enough so that I have lick them off before typing.

Being made from brisket, there is indeed quite a bit of membrane to be seen on the edges of these slices, but I haven't found it chewy at all. Everything chews very easily. Otherwise, no tendon or gristle to be found.

Overall, this has a great meat consistency.

Jedidiah's Beef Jerky - Private Reserve - New Sweet & Spicy

Jedidiah's Beef Jerky - Private Reserve - New Sweet & Spicy
Product Value

Jedidiah's Jerky sells this New Sweet & Spicy variety from its website at a price of $7.99 for a 3.65oz package. That works out to a price of $2.19 per ounce, putting this into the expensive price range.

For general jerky snacking, this has a decent value. It's very tasty, and has a taste that lasts all throughout the chew, and is very easy to eat. It's very snackable. I'd call it an excellent value if it were priced about 50 cents less per ounce.

For being advertised as a sweet & spicy variety, it's also a decent value. It certainly is sweet & spicy, but for a price of $2.19 per ounce, you can find much cheaper sweet & spicy brands.

But you might be intrigued with the unique taste this offers, with the jalapeno and Tapatia sauce, and its unusually soft consistency. It's worth buying to just experience it.

Rating

I'm giving this a good rating.

This New Sweet & Spicy variety from Jedidiah's Private Reserve offers a very pleasing taste for folks who love spicy jerky that's not necessarily hot, and provides a very soft and tender texture.

I just found it too salty for my liking. I could give it a best rating if it only toned down the saltiness.

Otherwise, I really enjoy the flavor of this. For me personally, anytime you add jalapeno peppers and hot sauce, you get something that finds favor from me.

To make a beer recommendation, the heavy sweetness in this warrants something light on taste, in fact a hefeweizen or wheat beer sounds good.

Rating: Good

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Ray's Own Brand - Hickory

Ray's Own Brand - HickoryRay's Own Brand is a line of beef jerky produced by the business of the same name, based out of San Luis Obispo, CA. It was started by Raymond Cattaneo and wife Nina Marie in 2003.

The Cattaneo's beef jerky business follows their popular barbecue service, Cattaneo BBQ Service, which they've been doing since 1971 around the central coast of California. Ray has been in the meat industry since the age of 9, when he started working in his family's business.

Ray's Own Brand is a husband & wife operation with Ray overseeing the individual batch processing, with Nina Marie directing all business operations. They make their own beef jerky at their own faciliy.

The valleys around the California central coast have long been known for its cattle ranches and vineyards, but only recently began enjoy some popularity for its artisan jerky.

Ingredients

Beef, water, cider vinegar, salt, black pepper, garlic, sodium nitrite.

Taste

A strong smokiness is easily detected upon putting a piece into my mouth. Next, I can taste natural meat flavors, and a bit of saltiness. With some chewing, the natural meat flavors come out even more, and then I get some tanginess, which is probably the cider vinegar marinade.

For being advertised as a hickory variety, I can indeed pick up a smokiness that resembles hickory. But that hickory taste is mostly on the surface, once I get into the chewing, that flavor wanes.

The natural beef flavors is perhaps the most dominant flavor in this. It's more of a sharp beef flavor than a mellow one, and has a rather addicting taste, particularly if you're a beef lover.

The cider vinegar mentioned in the ingredients list is perhaps what gives this meat a tanginess. It's also a dominating flavor in this review sample, and is probably what makes Ray's Own Brand such a favorite among jerky snackers.

I don't find this jerky to be all that salty, even though salt is another large taste component here. Note that the nutrition label represents the whole 2oz package, instead of the industry standard 1oz serving.

There's a substantial amount of black pepper to be seen on these pieces, but it's taste is not well identified. I can perhaps get a slight black pepper aftertaste in the back of my mouth. If anything, the pepper adds to the "taste ambiance".

Overall, the mixture of the natural meat flavors with the tanginess of the cider vinegar marinade, is a very pleasing combination, that really makes the Ray's Own Brand line very enjoying to eat. There's perhaps enough hickory smoke flavor in this to warrant the advertisement on the package, but it's the natural meat flavor and that tanginess that dominates this jerky.

Meat Consistency

These are cuts of whole meat, sliced into very thick slices, and in small to medium sized pieces.

While I would classify this as a dry jerky, it's actually moist as well. That's because the slices are so thick, that the portion deep inside the thickness has some moistness to it. In fact, that probably explains the tanginess. The cider vinegar marinade deep inside the thickness is protected from the dehydration. What results is a piece of jerky similar to a medium-rare steak.

Tearing off a piece is easy as long as you tear with the grain. It's best to grab a grain, and strip it off like string cheese. If you tried to bite off against the grain, you couldn't do it being these pieces are so thick.

There's enough fat marbilization in these pieces that the fat adds to the overall flavor of this jerky, and I think is part of also makes this so enjoyable. In terms of finding chewy stuff, I did actually find a good-sized strip of tendon in one of the pieces. The other pieces had no tendon, no gristle, and nothing else chewy.

Overall, I'd say this jerky has a great meat consistency.

Ray's Own Brand - Hickory

Ray's Own Brand - Hickory

Product Value

Ray's Own Brand sells this Hickory variety from its website at a price of $7.00 for a 4oz package. That works out to a price of $1.75 per ounce, putting this in the average price range.

For general purpose jerky snacking, I'd say this offers a great value. It's got a great taste, one that I find very difficult to resist, and with a great meat consistency.

As a hickory smoked variety, it offers a decent value, because while it does provide a hickory taste and aroma, that flavor doesn't last long, and is easily dominated by the natural meat flavors and the tanginess.

Rating

I'm giving this a best rating.

This Hickory Smoked variety from Ray's Own Brand offers a wonderful taste experience with its great natural meat flavors and the tanginess of the marinade. It has a meat consistency similar to a medium-rare steak, being dry on the outside, and semi-moist on the inside.

The other seasonings are mostly light to medium, and do a pretty good job of framing the natural meat flavors. It's the salt that seems to be most noticeable.

I'd love to take a package of this jerky with me to my favorite tavern, sit outside in the patio, with a ice cold beer, and savor the flavors this jerky has to offer. As for that beer recommendation, I keep wanting something fruity, like a cherry or raspberry lambic.

Rating: Best

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Jedidiah's Beef Jerky - Premium Honey

Jedidiah's Beef Jerky - Premium HoneyJedidiah's Jerky is a brand of Jedidiah's Jerky and Gourmet Snacks, based out of Laughlin, NV.

The brand was created by David Coffey, who previously produced the River Run Jerky brand. Before that he was involved with Polley's Jerky, and has been in the jerky industry since 1984. He actually follows in his father's footsteps in the meat snacks biz.

The Jedidiah's brand is meant to represent various styles of jerky that appeal to a more discriminating jerky snacker. This Premium line represents the brand's standard jerky, while their Private Reserve line represents a soft and tender beef brisket jerky.

Ingredients

Beef, honey, salt, sugar, monosodium glutamate, paprika, spices, garlic, sodium nitrite.

Taste

I get a sweet taste upon first putting a piece into my mouth. That's followed by the saltiness, and a black peppery taste as well. I can also get some garlic taste too. With some chewing, I can pick up some of the natural meat flavors.

Being advertised as a Honey variety, there is indeed a fair amount of sweetness in this, but it's not the dominant flavor. The saltiness and black pepper seems to get greater attention. Most of the sweetness comes off the surface of these pieces, when a piece first enters my mouth.

And while the saltiness is more defined than the sweet, I wouldn't call this "too salty". Even with 580mg of sodium per 1oz serving, a high amount, there's enough sweetness in it to offset any salt scorching.

The black pepper has a moderate flavor in this jerky. It's enough to be noticed, but doesn't leave a strong aftertaste in the back of my mouth. The garlic, likewise, is also just enough to be noticed, but won't leave you smelling like an Olive Garden restaurant.

The natural meat flavors are there, but not well distinguished. I can get more of the taste after letting a piece soften up in my mouth for several seconds, and then chewing.

There's also a very slight barbecue taste to this, perhaps a culmination of the honey, garlic, and paprika.

Overall, this jerky is packed with flavor, and a complex flavor with plenty of components to identify. It would be better to get more of the natural meat flavors, but I still enjoy the seasonings and marinade quite a bit.

Meat Consistency

This jerky appears to be slices of whole meat, cut into medium and thick slices, and in small to medium sized pieces.

It's a dry jerky, with some pieces ranging from flexible to rigid. Some pieces can bend without breaking, while others break.

Some of the pieces are easy to tear apart, but others require some effort to pull apart and bite off. Chewing is maybe the same, but perhaps a little more easier.

There's a few small bits of fat that I can see, but otherwise nothing chewy in the way of tendon, gristle, or membrane.

Overall, this is a good meat consistency, just a little too tough in some pieces.

Jedidiah's Beef Jerky - Premium Honey

Jedidiah's Beef Jerky - Premium Honey
Product Value

Jedidiah's sells this Premium Honey variety from their website at a price of $5.99 for a 3.5oz bag. That works out to $1.71 per ounce, putting this in the average price range.

For general jerky snacking purposes, this has a great value because of its great taste, its flavor complexity, and its good meat consistency. I find it very snackable for these reasons, and can't help but reach for more.

As a honey variety, it has an "good" value, because it's still sweet enough to warrant the Honey advertisement, however the other flavorings come on strong and competes against it for attention. Most of the honey taste comes in the first several seconds. It's the salt and black pepper that dominates through the chew.

Rating

I'm giving this a good rating.

This Premium Honey variety from Jedidiah's Jerky offers a wonderful flavor complexity, allowing a jerky lover to enjoy several different taste components, in a good meat consistency.

I'm only dinging it for being somewhat tough in about half of the pieces. The toughness can be mitigated by letting a piece soften up in your mouth before chewing. More than likely, the toughness/softness varies from package to package.

Otherwise, this jerky has a flavor that will keep jerky afficionados busy dissecting the flavors they're tasting.

Rating: Good

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hawaiian Warrior Beef Jerky - Teriyaki

Hawaiian Warrior Beef Jerky - TeriyakiHawaiian Warrior Beef Jerky is a brand owned by Palama Holdings, LLC of Kapolei, HI. The jerky has been around since 1969.

The Hawaiian Warrior brand had actually been owned by Palama Meat Company, a company that started out as local butcher in the 1950s. The company soon became the largest meat processor in the state after gaining contracts with local school districts to supply meat. It later launched a line of foods under the Mays Hawaii brand.

In 1997, the company's owner, Donald Lau, retired by selling Palama Meat Company to H&W Foods. In the years following, H&W Foods ran into financial diffiulty and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In 2004, a California-based investment company bought H&W Foods, and relaunched it as Palama Holdings, LLC.

Since it first launched, Hawaiian Warrior Beef Jerky has grown to become a local favorite in Hawaii, but it never really gained a following beyond the State. It also earned a stigma from tourists as being a bad-tasting jerky. The company recently redesigned the package into what you see now, and reformulated the recipes. The product is now being exported into the mainland and into asian food markets.

Ingredients

Beef, water, sugar, sodium citrate blend, monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed soy protein, garlic powder, maltodextrin, citric acid, caramel color, spices, onion powder, tomato powder, soy sauce, pineapple juice solids, natural flavor, extractives of tamarind, dextrose, modified food starch, natural smoke flavor, vinegar solids, not more than 2% tricalcium phosphate, added to prevent caking.

Taste

There's something of a sweet taste that I detect immediately upon putting a piece into my mouth. With some chewing, that sweetness comes out more. I can also sense a touch of soy sauce.

Aside from that, I don't taste much else.

I can't really detect any of the natural meat flavors in this. After thinking hard about what I'm tasting, I do pick a very faint signal of meat, but it's more of that "old meat" taste, where it's somewhat stale, or starting to turn. But still, it's very faint, and only detectable if you really look hard for it. Otherwise, there's nary a meat taste in this at all.

As for that sweetness, it's not heavily sweet by any means. But considering there's little other taste to this, even that would be welcomed.

Considering this jerky is advertised as a "Hawaiian Teriyaki" variety, there's is very little teriyaki to be tasted here. Perhaps Hawaiian Teriyaki is a light variety of standard teriyaki, but if that's the case, it's extremely light on taste.

Overall, it doesn't taste bad. It just doesn't taste much at all. All I'm getting is the bit of sweetness, and very light touch of soy sauce. No natural meat flavors, not even very salty either.

Meat Consistency

This appears to be cuts of whole meat, sliced into medium thickness, and in small to medium sized pieces.

This is somewhat dry, but you might also think of it as somewhat moist also. They are very flexible and don't break at all. In fact, it has the rubbery consistency, like "gummy jerky".

It's easy to tear a piece apart, and easy to chew.

I do see a fair amount of fat on these pieces, but I didn't find much in tendon or gristle. I did find some pieces with small bits of membrane that made for some additional chewing.

Overall, it's a decent meat consistency in that there's nothing major that got in my way, and is easy to eat. The rubbery consistency is something you often see in large national brands, with their attempt to make jerky more soft and tender. I don't particulary care much for it.

Hawaiian Warrior Beef Jerky - Teriyaki

Hawaiian Warrior Beef Jerky - Teriyaki
Product Value

I paid $6.29 for this 4oz package at a Marukai Market in San Diego, CA. That works out to $1.57 per ounce, putting this in the average price range.

For general purpose jerky snacking, it provides a "so-so" value, because there's not much to taste in this. This might be good just to curb your hunger, or give you a protein boost while resting on a hike.

As a teriyaki variety, it has very little value at all. I don't taste much teriyaki in this. If anything, I taste a sweetness, but not something that manifests itself as teriyaki.

Rating

I'm giving this a fair rating.

This teriyaki variety from Hawaiian Warrior offers an easy-to-eat meat consistency, though with a rubbery-like consistency. It just doesn't provide much teriyaki taste at all, and in fact not much taste period. Even the natural meat flavors are not well discernable.

I wouldn't quite rate this as "dog treats" because it still doesn't taste bad. As a meat snack, it doesn't really offer much snackability.

The irony of this is that the package is marked, "New and Improved Flavor". I can't imagine what this stuff was like before.

Rating: Fair

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Ray's Own Brand - Original

Ray's Own Brand - OriginalRay's Own Brand is a brand of beef jerky produced by a business of the same name, located in San Luis Obispo, CA. It was started by Raymond Cattaneo and wife Nina Marie in 2003.

Ray's beef jerky business follows his popular barbecue service, Cattaneo BBQ Service, which he's been doing since 1971 around the central coast of California. He's been in the meat industry since the age of 9, when he started working in his family's business.

Ray's Own Brand is a husband & wife operation with Ray overseeing the individual batch processing, with Nina Marie directing all business operations. They make their own beef jerky at their own faciliy.

The valleys around the California central coast have long been known for its cattle ranches and vineyards, but only recently began seeing an interest for its artisan jerky.

Ingredients

Beef, water, cider vinegar, salt, black pepper, garlic, sodium nitrite.

Taste

The first I taste I get is the natural meat flavors, followed by some saltiness. With some chewing, I can pick up some of the garlic. I can also detect a bit of tanginess, which I think is the cider vinegar marinade.

The natural meat flavors seems to be the dominant taste in this, and lasts throughout the chew. It's a sharp beef taste, if you can understand that description. It would be like the difference between mild cheddar cheese and sharp cheddar cheese.

The garlic taste I described remains slight, and is something I can only detect when I analyze carefully what I'm tasting. Otherwise, you'd never notice it.

In terms of saltiness, this is maybe just a tad on the salty side, but just fine for my tastes. I don't get a salt-scorching, or feel the need to drink something. Note that the nutrition label below represents the full 2oz package, instead of the standard 1oz serving.

Even though there is quite a bit of black pepper to be seen on these pieces, I don't really get much taste of it. It's just something that sits in the background, or ambiance.

Overall, this is a great tasting jerky that emphasizes its natural meat flavors pretty well. It's got just enough seasoning in salt, garlic, and a bit of tanginess left over from the vinegar, to give it a complexity.

Meat Consistency

These are cut from whole pieces of meat, sliced very thick, and in small to medium sized pieces.

This is largely a dry jerky, but based on how thick this is, it doesn't really flex. If you bend it with the grain, it breaks apart.

It's very easy to tear off, if you do so with the grain. It's best to grab a grain, and strip it off like string cheese. Chewing requires some more effort, mostly due to these pieces being so thick.

That "tanginess" I described in the flavor I think may be the result of these pieces being so thick, that the cider vinegar in the middle of the widths doesn't totally evaporate.

There some small bit of fat to be seen on these pieces. I don't find any tendon or gristle, but there's some membrane to be found in these slices which remain in my mouth during chewing, but can be easily swallowed.

Overall, this jerky has a great meat consistency.

Ray's Own Brand - Original

Ray's Own Brand - Original
Product Value

Ray's Own Brand sells this Original variety from its website at a price of $7.00 for a 4oz package. That works out to a price of $1.75 per ounce, putting this in the average price range.

For general jerky snacking purposes, this offers a great value. It has an excellent snackability based on its great meat flavor, and great meat consistency.

As an original variety, it's also a great value because it's got just enough complexity in the seasonings and marinade to warrant its own appreciation, but still frames this jerky's natural meat flavors.

Rating

I'm giving this a best rating.

This Original variety from Ray's Own Brand provides an excellent natural meat taste, with just enough flavorings to make this interesting, all in great meat consistency. The meat flavors alone make me reach for more and more, with that slight bit of tanginess.

If I was going to be stuck on an tiny island in the middle of the ocean, and I could have 100 pounds of jerky, but only from one brand, it could be this one. I can't yet say for sure this is definitely it, but this would certainly be in the running.

My beer recommendation for this: a kriek lambic.

Rating: Best

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Jedidiah's Beef Jerky - Private Reserve - Teriyaki

Jedidiah's Beef Jerky - Private Reserve - TeriyakiJedidiah's Jerky is a brand belonging to Jedidiah's Jerky and Gourmet Snacks of Laughlin, NV. It's been around since 2005, owned and operated by David Coffey.

Coffey launched the brand to represent lines of specialty beef jerky that afficionados would enjoy. He's a veteran of the jerky snack business going back to 1984, when he started out with Polley's Jerky and later on launched a previous brand, River Run Jerky. His father was also a veteran of the jerky snack business.

This line of "Private Reserve" represents a a very soft and tender beef brisket jerky, while their "Premium" line is more of the standard beef jerky.

Ingredients

Beef brisket, teriyaki sauce, brown sugar, pineapple juice, garlic powder, worcestershire sauce, honey, pepper, ginger.

Taste

I get a strong sweet taste immediately upon putting a piece into my mouth, with a saltiness coming on just seconds later. The natural meat flavors start showing through after that, and in the chews I can detect some garlic.

The teriyaki sauce is there, but I can't really say that it's a strong teriyaki taste, mostly because the sweetness is so strong. Or perhaps it's better to say that the teriyaki sauce is more heavy on the sweet side, and less on the soy sauce.

The saltiness is well pronounced in this, however the heavy sweetness balances it out and doesn't really give me a salt-scorching.

The natural meat flavors show up in the chews, but I can't say it's a strong taste, mainly because it's masked by the heavy sweet and salty flavoring. There is also a very slight "rank" meat taste, or stale taste. Note that this jerky contains no sodium nitrite, no oxygen absorption packet, and is not vacuum sealed.

As for the other seasonings, I can detect the garlic, but mostly during the chewing. For the most part, I don't really taste the black pepper, though there were some cracks and crevices in this jerky that had concentrated amount of pepper, and gave off a good peppery taste. The ginger is something I can sense in the teriyaki sauce.

When I let a piece soften up in my mouth for several seconds, I mostly get the heavy sweet flavor, with some saltiness. But the salt really comes out once I start chewing.

Overall, this is a sweet & salty variety of jerky. You could rightfully call it a teriyaki variety, but only if you call it an extremely sweet teriyaki. This stuff is basically "meat candy", and is supported by the very high 13g of carbs per 1oz serving on the nutrition label.

Meat Consistency

This appears to be whole cuts of real meat, sliced thin, and in strips of ranging from 5-10 inches in length.

This is a soft and tender variety of jerky, though not necessarily moist. It's very easy to tear apart and chew. In fact, it's so easy to eat that I find myself having to slow down so that I don't run out before finishing writing this review.

As with beef brisket, there's a good deal of marbilization, and plenty of "membrane" covering the edges of these slices. That membrane does remain in my mouth in a little chewy ball, but can be easily swallowed. Otherwise, I don't find any tendon or gristle.

If I could recommend a beer with this jerky, it would be a watery beer, something very light on flavor, maybe a Bud Lime.

Overall, this jerky has a great meat consistency that doesn't interfere with my enjoyment of the flavors.




Product Value

Jedidiah's Jerky and Gourmet Snacks sells this Teriyaki variety from its website at a price of $7.99 for a 3.65oz package. That works out to a price of $2.19 per ounce, putting this into the expensive price range.

For general jerky snacking purposes, this has a decent value considering it's packed with a lot of flavoring (mostly sweet & salty), is very easy to eat, and provides a lot of snackability. If it were priced about 50 cents lower per oz, I'd say it would have an excellent value.

As a teriyaki variety, that value could swing either way depending on your tastes. If you like heavily sweet teriyaki, then it's a great value being that's exactly what this is. Otherwise you might see this as being a waste of money for something that tastes like meat candy.

Rating

Jedidiah's Beef Jerky - Private Reserve - TeriyakiI'm giving this a good rating.

This teriyaki variety from Jedidiah's Private Reserve offers a very soft and easy-to-eat jerky with a liberal dose of sweet teriyaki taste against a good natural meat flavor.

But that teriyaki flavor is extremely sweet, to the point where you might find yourself making a face and handing it off to your toddler to stop him from crying.

Nutritionwise, this is one of the worst, being very high in carbohydrates (for jerky anyways), high in sodium, and high in calories. However, it's lower in cholesterol than most jerky. This isn't a jerky you'd want to diet with.

But I still find it quite snackable, and it's easy-to-eat consistency has me eating it very quickly. Considering it's high price point, you'd have to train yourself to eat this slowly or else that $7.99 price might only provide you with 5 minutes of snacking fun.

Rating: Good

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Ray's Own Brand - Teriyaki

Ray's Own Brand - TeriyakiRay's Own Brand is a brand of beef jerky produced by a business of the same name, located in San Luis Obispo, CA. It was started by Raymond Cattaneo and wife Nina Marie in 2003.

It seems these days I keep reading about a growth in popularity over beef jerky produced from the central coast of California, an area known for its cattle ranches and fine wines. The two are often paired together where "artisan jerky" is washed down with a sip of red wine.

Ray's beef jerky business follows his barbecue service, Cattaneo BBQ Service, which has grown in popularity across the central coast of California since 1971. He's been in the meat industry since the age of 9, when he started working in his family's business.

Ray's Own Brand is a husband & wife operation with Ray overseeing the individual batch processing, with Nina Marie directing all business operations. They make their own beef jerky at their own faciliy.

Ingredients

Beef, teriyaki sauce, black pepper, spices, garlic, sodium nitrite.

Taste

I get a teriyaki flavor immediately upon putting a piece into my mouth, followed by a bit of saltiness, and then followed by the natural meat flavors.

The teriyaki taste is light, but enough to let you know that it's teriyaki sauce. As I get into the chew, much of the teriyaki taste wears off and I'm left with the salt and natural meat flavors.

The natural meat flavors give off a strong beef taste. It's a sharper beef taste when compared to the smoother Gary West Meats brand of jerky. This is more similar to a grilled steak. If you'd rather have a beer with your beef jerky (like me), I think a porter would pair up well this.

The saltiness is moderate, it's largely the main flavoring in this, despite it being a teriyaki variety. While the nutrition label shows this has having a very high sodium content (787mg), keep in mind that the label represents the entire 2oz package being one serving. That would work out to about 394mg of sodium in a 1oz serving, well within the moderate range for jerky.

The black pepper seasoning is something I taste after several bites of this jerky; I get its aftertaste in the back of my mouth.

Overall, this is a jerky that largely emphasizes its natural meat taste, while adding a slight bit of flavorings. The meat taste is what lasts throughout the chew, along with a moderate saltiness.

Meat Consistency

These are cuts of whole meat, sliced thick, and in small to medium sized pieces. I'm reviewing the 2oz sized package, and is thus not big enough for larger pieces.

This is a dry jerky that retains its flexibility when bent against the grain. If bent with the grain, it cracks open. Tearing a piece apart requires a bit of effort with the grain, but is not anything that would detract from the overall enjoyment. But based on how thick these pieces are, you couldn't bite against the grain.

Chewing also requires a bit of effort as well, mostly based on its thick pieces. You're best to just bite down on a single grain, and strip it off like string-cheese.

There are a few bits of fat here and there on these pieces, which is enough to provide this jerky with an added taste dimension, and gives my mouth and lips with the fine coating of oil. I also find some bits of chewy membrane remaining in my mouth after chewing, but not anything that can't be swallowed down. Otherwise, no tendon or gristle.

Overall, it's a good meat consistency.

Ray's Own Brand - Teriyaki

Ray's Own Brand - Teriyaki
Product Value

Ray's Own Brand sells this Teriyaki variety from its website at a price of $7.00 for a 4oz package. That works out to a price of $1.75 per ounce, putting this in the average price range.

For that price, I think it provides a good value for general beef jerky enjoyment. It offers a great taste and a good meat consistency, and it does offer a great snackability.

But as a teriyaki variety, it's a weak value. If you love teriyaki flavored jerky, there really isn't much teriyaki taste in here. The teriyaki flavoring is there enough to be recognized, but then wears off quickly as you start chewing, and is mostly left behind as a saltiness.

But if you love jerky that emphasizes its natural meat flavors, this is a great value. That's really what this is about, anyways. I find a sharp beef flavor in this, which I think is further enhanced by the tiny bits of fat.

Rating

Ray's Own Brand - TeriyakiI'm giving this a good rating.

This teriyaki variety from Ray's Own Brand does a great job of emphasizing the natural meat flavors, and a slight bit of teriyaki, in a good meat consistency.

What kept me giving it a higher rating is that I prefer jerky that also belts out its advertised flavor. Perhaps many others prefer the lighter teriyaki taste to further emphasize the natural meat flavors. It's also a tad on the tough side, just a tad.

The package actually states, "Sweet and Tender", but I can't really say that it is. There's very little sweetness in this, perhaps only detected from the surface of these pieces, and the meat consistency is not tender by any means.

However, this is still a savory jerky, one that I really enjoyed mostly for its natural meat flavors. I also enjoyed the bits of fat in this meat consistency because it added a more "beefy" flavor to this.

Rating: Good

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gary West Meats - Certified Angus Beef - Traditional

Gary West Meats - Certified Angus Beef - TraditionalGary West Meats is a brand of smoked meats and jerky produced by a company of the same name. Based in Jacksonville, OR, it's been serving up its famous brand of meats since 1966 on location at the company's own meat processing facility.

The company was founded by Gary West using recipes handed down to him by his grandfather. In 2004, he sold the business to his daughter and son-in-law. Since that time, the Gary West brand of beef jerky rose in popularity quite quickly being well respected for its wonderful meat taste, and gaining great reviews in such publications as the New York Times and earning the 2008 Editor's Choice award from Outdoor Life magazine.

Gary West Meats is also the only brand that offers a special line of beef jerky made from Certified Angus Beef, an organization that produces a very high quality line of beef. Only 8% of all angus beef qualifies for CAB, and is the most tender and flavorful angus beef around. This review tries out Gary West's "Traditional" Certified Angus Beef jerky.

Ingredients

Beef, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, sodium nitrite.

Taste

The first tastes that comes through is a slight sweetness along with the natural meat flavors. Chewing down on it very slightly is enough to get the piece to release more of that natural meat flavor, along with a salty flavor.

I'm not an expert on Certified Angus Beef, so I can't really say that I know the unique qualities that differentiate it from other Angus beef. However, this particular variety of jerky has an excellent meat taste, just like with Gary West's standard traditional beef jerky (see review here).

This meat has the same smooth, mellow, and almost "buttery" like taste. It's not a sharp taste, but mellow. It's a very delicious flavor, which reminds me of the time I had a rib eye steak at Lou & Mickey's at the Gas Lamp District of San Diego. It was a steak that had such a rich "meaty" taste, yet so soft and juicy, and it became the comparison steak that I compare other steak houses to. While beef jerky is not exactly steak, this wonderful meat flavor from Gary West Meats has become my comparison beef jerky at least in terms of natural meat flavors.

This particular jerky is actually rather sparse on seasonings. Salt is the probably the most dominant flavoring, though I can't say that it tastes overly salty, even though the nutrition facts suggests it salty. The black pepper listed in the ingredients is detectable, but very slightly. I can only taste it while sucking on a piece, before I actually chew down on it.

I'm out of good quality beer in my refrigerator, and had to resort to a Heineken Light that I've had sitting in there for several months. Like most other "rice brewed" beers out there, I find it ruins the taste of this jerky. I'd recommend a honey blonde ale with this jerky; it won't compete against it's mellow buttery flavor.

Meat Consistency

This jerky appears to be made from whole pieces of meat, sliced into strips of about a foot long, and about the width of a meat stick. Note that I cut the strip into smaller pieces for photographic purposes.

I found this to be a semi-moist jerky, probably slightly more dry. It's a "soft and tender" variety of jerky, that is easy to bite off and very easy to chew.

No pieces of fat, tendon, or gristle could be found.

The strips are cut with the grain, making it difficult to tear apart with your with fingers. You have to eat it like a beef stick, basically biting off each piece.

Gary West Meats - Certified Angus Beef - Traditional

Gary West Meats - Certified Angus Beef - Traditional

Product Value

Gary West Meats sells this Traditional variety of Certified Angus Beef jerky at a price of $9.00 for a 4oz package. That works out to a price of $2.25 per ounce, making it an expensive buy.

At that price, I probably wouldn't buy this since I haven't developed the highly sophisticated palate from differentiating Gary West's Certified Angus Beef jerky from their standard beef jerky. The standard jerky sells for $7.50 per 4oz package.

And for general purpose jerky eating, this makes an expensive meat snack. This isn't something you'd snack on while watching a movie or sitting at a football game, simply because it would be an injustice to ignore this jerky's excellent meat flavors.

But if you're someone whose very anal about enjoying "artisan jerky" for its natural meat flavors, or if you simply MUST have Certified Angus Beef in all of your meat-eating, this is an excellent value.

Rating

Gary West Meats - Certified Angus Beef - TraditionalI'm giving this a best rating.

The natural meat flavors that come from this Traditional variety of Certified Angus Beef are wonderful with its smooth, mellow, and almost buttery flavor. It's a flavor that has me craving for more and more. On top of that, it has an excellent meat consistency.

In terms of seasonings, it's rather bland, with basically just salt being the only other flavor I can taste. But the natural meat flavors are so good that it's all that I care to taste.

This isn't a jerky that I'd eat for general purpose snacking, but something I'd take with me on a hike up to a nearby waterfall, with a couple bottles of really good beer, and perch myself on a rock ledge overlooking the canyon below, and be thankful for the steer that gave its life for my personal enjoyment.

Rating: Best

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Jedidiah's Jerky - Premium Hickory

Jedidiah's Jerky - Premium HickoryJedidiah's Jerky is a brand produced by Jedidiah's Jerky and Gourmet Snacks, based out of Laughlin, NV. It's been around since 2005.

The business was founded by David Coffey, a veteran in the beef jerky marketing business since 1984, having spent many years at Polley's Beef Jerky, and having started another brand, River Run Jerky.

The Jedidiah's brand focuses on finding unique recipes and styles of jerky to meet a growing demand from gourmet jerky lovers. Thus far the brand offers two lines of jerky, this Premium line, which appears to be their standard jerky, and a Private Reserve line, which is soft and tender beef brisket jerky.

Ingredients

Beef, salt, sugar, monosodium glutamate, paprika, spices, hickory smoke flavor, garlic, sodium nitrite.

Taste

A combination of salt and smokiness are the first tastes that hit me right away. That's followed by a faint garlic flavor, and a faint sweet flavor. There's some natural meat flavors that show up after I start chewing.

For being a hickory variety, there is indeed a strong hickory taste and aroma to this jerky.

The saltiness is well pronounced. It's probably the most dominant flavor in this, with the hickory smoke flavor coming in a close second. After about four pieces of this, it's starting to scorch my mouth.

The faint garlic flavor I described above actually becomes more noticeable as I continue to eat more pieces, and as I allow each piece to soak in my mouth for several seconds.

And that sweetness I also mentioned is even more faint. It's not something that stands out, I wouldn't normally notice it if I weren't writing a detailed review. It's there in the background, like ambiance.

Lastly, the natural meat flavors are there, but are not well defined. I'd say the heavy salt flavor does a good job at masking it.

If you were to allow a piece to soften up in your mouth, what you'd find is the hickory smoke flavor dominating, with the garlic, and the "spices", adding background touches. Once you chew into the piece, the salt leaches forth and blots out every other taste.

Overall, this jerky is packed with a lot of flavor, mostly as salt however, but with plenty of hickory smoke flavor too. The garlic and sweet background gives this jerky some added taste dimension. It's a great jerky to just suck on and enjoy the flavors.

Meat Consistency

This appears to be made from whole pieces of meat, sliced into medium and thick widths, and in small to medium sized pieces.

This jerky is dry, retaining some flexibility, but will crack and break if bent too far. Most of the pieces are moderately easy to tear apart, with some offering a lot more resistance. I found one piece that was pretty hard. Chewing requires a moderate amount of effort, and some more in the tougher pieces. But like I said, there's enough flavor in this you'd want to suck a piece for awhile before chewing.

Some of the pieces are very lean, with nary a bit of fat, while others have some good fat marbilization. I can't really see the fat on these, but I can certainly taste it. But I find nothing chewy in the way of tendon or gristle.

Overall, this is a dry jerky requiring some effort to tear and chew, but providing a lot of lean meat.

Jedidiah's Jerky - Premium Hickory

Jedidiah's Jerky - Premium Hickory
Product Value

Jedidiah's sells this Premium Hickory variety from their website at a price of $5.99 for a 3.5oz bag. That works out to $1.71 per ounce, putting this in the average price range.

I'd say that this offers a so-so value for general jerky eating purposes. It's got a lot of flavor that lasts throughout the chew, and some snackability, but offering enough effort in tearing and chewing that you'd find it somewhat distracting. The heavy salt flavor is also something that wears me down after several pieces.

But as a hickory variety, it offers a great value because it does offer plenty of hickory taste and aroma.

Rating

Jedidiah's Jerky - Premium HickoryI'm giving this an average rating.

This hickory smoked variety from Jedidiah's offers a lot of hickory smoke flavor with some garlic and faint sweet notes, in a mixture of lean and fat-marbilized meat consistency.

But the heavy salt flavor, and with enough pieces requiring some effort to tear apart and chew, takes away from this jerky's snackability. With a few pieces left to go in writing this review, I don't feel enthused about the eating the rest.

While the toughness can be mitigated by just letting each piece soften up in your mouth, and you can enjoy more of the flavors that way, you're still left with salty jerky. That might be ok with some folks, but it's just my preference to avoid heavily salty jerky.

Rating: Average

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Winchester Jerky - Spicy Ham

Winchester Jerky - Spicy HamWinchester Jerky is a licensed product distributed by Bric-A-Brac, Inc., out of Las Vegas, NV.

The name "Winchester" is meant to be the same name as the brand of gun. This package of jerky uses the same trademarks and images of the famous rifle that "won the west". The Olin Corporation, which owns Winchester, licenses its brand out to several consumer product manufacturers for a wide array of stuff.

Winchester Jerky is not typically found in the United States, with the exception of asian food stores found in various asian communities. Rather, it's largely sold overseas in Japan, and in airports around the world where asian travellers tend to make stops.

Bric-A-Brac knows that the Japanese have a love affair with America's "old west", and beef jerky has gained cult following there as a snack, and thus a product named after the rifle that became synonymous with the old west is a way to boost marketability.

This jerky is actually manufactured by Monogram Meat Snacks, LLC, the same company behind the Jeff Foxworthy Jerky, Trails Best Jerky, and the NASCAR branded hot dogs and meats. Winchester Jerky includes several varieties of beef jerky and ham jerky.

Ingredients

Pork (ham), brown sugar, water, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, spices, hydrolized soy protein, dextrose, soy sauce, hydrolized soy and corn protein, autolyzed yeast extract, sugar, maltodextrin, flavoring, natural flavors, sodium nitrite.

Taste

There's a sweet initial taste upon putting a piece into my mouth, and that sweetness morphs into a "ham" taste. The saltiness comes on pretty strong, along with its associated soy sauce flavoring, and then I can feel the "tingle" of spiciness in the back of my mouth. As I start the chewing, I can taste more of the ham flavor.

The ham flavors in this are pronounced, though I can't say it's a strong ham taste. Most of the ham taste comes from the surface of these pieces, perhaps in the sugar. I can continue getting that ham taste during the chew, but it's not a strong one.

I'd say that the "spicy" advertisement on the package is warranted, because I do sense some spiciness in this. I'd rate it as mild-medium, or maybe just medium at best. I can taste the chili pepper seasoning in this, and I get it even more when I bite into a chili pepper seed.

The soy sauce flavor that I described above only seems to be detectable when I let a piece soak in my mouth for several seconds, and then I extract the juices. It tastes more like the chinese style soy sauce rather than the japanese.

The saltiness is heavy. It wears me out after pieces, and detracts from this jerky's snackability.

Overall, this spicy ham jerky is very flavorful, with plenty of taste throughout the chew. The flavors that dominate this is the saltiness, the medium-level spiciness, soy sauce, and ham flavors. The sweetness is only dominant in the first few seconds.

Meat Consistency

This is a chopped & formed jerky, with medium to thick thickness, and in small to medium sized pieces.

The pieces are dry, and are somewhat on the tough side. They tear apart with some ease, perhaps due to the chopped & formed consistency, but require some effort in chewing. It's better to eat this slowly, allowing the pieces to soften up in your mouth.

I don't find any tiny bits of "hard stuff", like bone or cartilage in this jerky, considering it's chopped & formed, and nor does it have an oily texture which many such jerkies have.

Overall, this has a good meat consistency, if it was easier to chew, I might call it a great consistency.

Winchester Jerky - Spicy Ham

Winchester Jerky - Spicy Ham
Product Value

I paid $6.99 for this 5oz bag at a Mitsuwa Market in San Diego, CA. That works out to a price of $1.40 per ounce, making this average priced.

For general purpose jerky snacking, I'd say that this offers a good value. You're getting a jerky with lots of flavor that lasts throughout the chew, with a good meat consistency, and decent amount of snackability. The high level of saltiness, for my own purposes, make it hard for me to snack on. But perhaps it's ok for others.

As a "spicy ham" variety, I'd say it also offers a great value. It tastes exactly that, offering a noticeable ham flavor that has been spiced up with a noticeable chili pepper seasoning.

Rating

Winchester Jerky - Spicy HamI'm giving this a good rating.

This spicy ham variety from Winchester Jerky offers a sweet ham flavor with a medium-level chili pepper seasoning in a good meat consistency.

It's largely the heavy salt flavor that prevents me from giving this a higher rating, with it's tough chewing to back that up. Otherwise, I actually like the flavor of this, with the ham, the sweetness, and the chili pepper seasoning. Just tone down the saltiness please!

As for those Japanese business travellers, who find this package of jerky at an airport terminal shop, go ahead and pick it up. It'll make a great snack on your trip over the Pacific. As you look out the window at 30,000 feet, you'll imagine how the gun-slingers back in the old west used to grind up pieces of leftover ham, marinate them in soy sauce and hydrolized corn proteins, and form them into pieces that look like meat.

Rating: Good

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