Going through my local Vons grocery store, I found this package of Safeway branded beef jerky, and bought it, along with the peppered variety. Vons is owned by the Safeway chain of stores.
Mirab USA, a large private labeler of beef jerky, is the actual manufacturer of this stuff. Most grocery store chains that offer their own branded beef jerky usually get it from Mirab.
My local Vons store must not sell very much of this jerky, because the "best if eaten by" date on this is just a month from now. I hope it still tastes fresh.
Beef, water, brown sugar, salt, maltodextrin, spices,hydrolyzed corn gluten protein, monosodium glutamate, yeast extract, sodium tripolyphosphate, garlic powder, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite.
The tastes I pick up from the surface of these pieces is a slight sweetness and some smoky flavor. In the chewing, honestly, I taste nothing.
It seems like all the flavor in this jerky comes from the surface of these pieces. If you just did what I did, suck off all the surface flavors, and then chew, you won't get any taste. But if you chew a piece immediately upon putting it in your mouth, the surface flavors get mixed into the chewing.
This jerky doesn't have much flavor intensity, it's a weak taste overall.
I'd rate the smoky flavor as the dominant flavor of this jerky, and it's only a light smoky flavor. The package says the jerky is hickory smoked.
Probably the second-most strongest flavor is that slight sweetness.
I do pick up some salty flavor, but it's not very strong.
The package also says that this beef jerky was rubbed with black pepper, but I don't really taste any black pepper on an individual piece basis. Though over the course of several pieces, I do get a weak black pepper aftertaste.
It goes without saying that I don't find any natural meat flavors in this. But despite the "best if eaten by" date is only a month away from this review, it still seems to have a fresh taste.
These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced to an medium thickness, and in small to medium sized pieces.
These pieces are dry, and have only a little bit of flexibility. If you bend them with them the grain, they crack and break apart easily. Tearing a piece apart is rather easy, chewing a piece takes a little bit more work.
The chewing texture is so-so. It takes awhile for a piece to hydrate in my mouth, and the meat breaks apart easily at the grains. There's a point where it has a meat-like texture, but with continued chewing it gets mealy and mushy, and loses its fibrous meaty character.
As far as clean eating goes, my fingers don't seem to pick up any residue, and I don't find any fragments on my lap.
I do see tiny spots of fat here and there, but it's still few and far between that I'd still call this jerky lean. And I didn't find any chewy tissues in the form of tendon, gristle, or other connective sinews.
I paid $4.99 for this 3.5oz package at a Vons grocery store in Menifee, CA. That works out to a price of $1.43 per ounce, putting this into the average price range.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at this price, it has a fair value. I don't really find a lot of snackability in this jerky. It's not a good tasting jerky, it's not even a decent tasting one. It's probably tolerable enough to keep a jerky snacker from spitting this out. The chewing texture is not that good, and chewing takes a little work, though it's easy to tear apart.
This probably explains why my local Vons store isn't selling much of this stuff.
I'm giving this a fair rating.
I don't really find much snackability in this jerky, and snackability is what I expect the most out of any jerky.
Since this jerky offers no natural meat flavors, it has to rely on its flavorings to win high marks, but it just doesn't have good flavor. It's largely a smoky flavor, with a lighter sweet, and lighter salty flavor. And for me, that's a mediocre recipe. But making things worse is that the overall flavor is light; it has a weak flavor intensity.
Even the chewing texture is subpar. If this jerky has anything going for it, it's that it's easy to tear apart.
I think some kind of fruit-flavored beer might be good with this, like a Blue Moon Apricot, or a lemon-garnished hefezweizen.
Where to buy:
- At any Vons or Safeway store