Last Saturday I posted a review of Safeway Beef Jerky - Original, and mentioned that I had also picked up the peppered variety, and well, here it is.
I actually found this at a Vons grocery store, here in my area. Vons is owned by Safeway.
Safeway doesn't make their own jerky, this is made by Mirab USA, a producer of private labeled jerky, and which I believe is technically the third largest producer of beef jerky in the USA, behind Oberto and Jack Link's. Mirab makes most of the store-branded jerky in the States.
It's worth noting that this review sample is actually out of date. The "Best Before" date on this package is "20 Dec 08". I bought this package on 13 Jan 09, about 24 days after it expired. Obviously my local Vons store is having difficulty selling their own store brand jerky. I forgot to check the freshness date before buying this. The photos below show some white powdery stuff on the pieces, which I think is some kind of mold. This is obviously not a fair review.
Beef, water, brown sugar, spices, salt, maltodextrin, hydrolyzed corn gluten protein, monosodium glutamate, yeast extract, garlic powder, sodium tripolyphosphate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite.
The tastes I pick up from the surface of these pieces is a slight sweetness, a moderate level of smokiness. In the chewing, I think I get a bit of saltiness, and I can taste some black pepper, and that's about it.
My initial thoughts is that this is a jerky that needs to be chewed right away, otherwise if you suck off the surface flavors first, you won't taste much of anything in the chewing.
As for being a black peppered jerky, it does indeed stand up to that advertisement. I only taste the black pepper in the chewing where I bite into a pepper corn.
There are no natural meat flavors detected in this jerky. It does have a slight stale flavor, but then again this jerky is already past its "Best Before" date. However, I picked out the pieces that didn't have any white powdery residue, and am only eating those. The rest is going to the dogs.
The level of salt intensity is actually kinda light, despite the 610mg of sodium listed on the nutrition facts.
There seems to be a faint bit of garlic aftertaste in this.
The dominant flavor of this jerky seems to be the smoky flavor, with the black pepper having the second-strongest flavor. The slight sweetness from the surface seems to mix into the chewing and provides a weaker third-strongest flavor.
These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced to a medium thickness, and in small to medium sized pieces.
This seems to be more of a dry jerky, but it's clear there is a small degree of moisture in this. It actually breaks apart pretty easily with the grain. Any amount of bending in that direction will cause it break off. Chewing seems to be average, which is fairly easy.
The chewing texture is not all that great. Some pieces seem to have some bit of meat-like quality, but there's also a good deal of mushiness. There are other pieces that seem to be more rubbery or gummy like; that is they seem to resist chewing for a bit until they finally give way.
It seems to be a clean-eating jerky, not leaving any residue on my fingers, and I don't really find much fragments of meat falling into my lap.
I don't really find any fat on these pieces, but I do see a fair amount of connective or membranous tissues between the meat grains. These will leave small unchewable wads left in my mouth. I do see some pieces with gristle.
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's a fair value. I don't really get much snackability out of this. While I do enjoy black peppered jerky, there isn't much else here to enjoy, it's just largely the smoke flavor and some sweetness. While it's easy to eat, the chewing texture is lackluster. It's only a fair value because of the mid-level price.
As a black peppered jerky, it's a good value at this price. You will get a good amount of black pepper taste out of this. If that's the most important part about jerky to you, then I think you might get some good satisfaction from this.
I'm giving this a fair rating.
I don't really get much snackability from this. I do like black peppered jerky, but for the most part all I get from this is black pepper, and smoke flavor, and some sweetness. It's just doesn't inspire me to keep eating more. But it's not so bad that I can't handle eating it.
It's a classic case of a jerky not having any natural meat flavors, and then having to rely on its blend of seasonings and marinade to carry it. And naturally, when all that's carrying a jerky is black pepper, smoke, and sugar, it faces an uphill battle.
The chewing texture of this is rather "meh". The fact that I found gristle in some of these pieces is also a big turn off for me. I just hate feeling that chewy-rubbery stuff when I'm expecting meat.
Overall, this jerky just has a taste and texture that cries out mediocrity. I know Safeway wasn't trying to win awards, only trying to win some leverage against the likes of Oberto and Jack Link's. And when you're trying to use price as your advantage, it just makes companies like Mirab USA all the more busy.
I think a good beer to pair up with this is a brown ale.
Where to buy:
- At Vons and Safeway stores