Next up in the series on Spencer's Beef Jerky is this Sweet & Spicy Orange variety of beef jerky. See my previous review of their Black Cobra Pepper.
Spencer's Beef Jerky is a brand of Spencer's Jerky, LLC based in Orlando, FL. The company started out in early 2009 with Spencer Freiman buying a dehydrator and making jerky for himself.
After his friends tried out his jerky, and offered to buy some from him, he decided try his luck selling it on eBay. Soon he was shipping jerky all over the world until eventually he was contacted by someone wanting to sell his jerky at local farmers market throughout Tampa. That caused Freiman to seek out a meat processor to make the jerky in larger quantities for him.
Beef, soy sauce, marinade sauce (soy sauce, water, dehydrated garlic, spice, modified corn starch, sunflower oil), balsamic vinegar, worcestershire sauce, juice (orange and pineapple), brown sugar, liquid smoke, flavorings.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a sweet flavor, followed by a light saltiness. A spicy burn starts to build. There's a faint chile pepper flavor. With some sucking, I can taste a light zest of orange peel.
The chewing flavor starts with a stronger, well-defined orange flavor, what tastes like a combination of orange juice mixed with orange peel zest. Following along is a continuation of the sweet, salty, and chile pepper.
For being dubbed "Sweet & Spicy Orange", I think it lives up to all three words. There's a sweetness, at a moderate level by my standards. The spiciness of the chile pepper is the clearly noticed. The Orange is also well represented mostly as an orange peel zest flavor.
The orange juice ingredient comes through in varying degrees depending on the pieces. Some pieces are thicker and burst with fruity, tangy orange juice flavor, mixed with the orange peel zest. The thinner pieces tend to reflect less orange juice, and more orange zest.
And in comparison to the other flavor components, the orange flavor is clearly the dominant flavor of this jerky overall. It starts out as a light, tangy flavor when I first suck on the surface flavors, but when I start chewing it comes on strong with more definition.
After that the sweetness is the next most dominant component, adding body to the overall flavor. The chile pepper flavor is perhaps the next most noticeable. The chile pepper burn is actually not that hot, I want to put this at a medium level of burn.
There's also the same "saucy" flavor that I mentioned in Spencer's Black Cobra Pepper variety, but it gets pushed to the background by the stronger orange flavor, and I think is further hidden by the heavier sweet.
The level of saltiness in this feels moderate.
I don't taste any natural meat flavors.
Overall, it's a very unique flavor, highlighted mostly by the tangy zesty orange flavor, a moderate sweetness, and some chile pepper and heat.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced to a medium to thick thickness, and in small pieces.
Most of these pieces are dry, but with a semi-moist surface. In comparison to Spencer's Black Cobra Pepper variety, this Sweet & Spicy Orange feels a little more brittle. They're very easy to tear apart with my fingers, and while chewing ranges from easy to moderate.
The chewing texture starts out feeling woody, but still somewhat soft due to the semi-moist surface feel. But once I start chewing it feels dry and hard, with some initial chewing resistance. Yet with a few chews it breaks down and becomes very effortless at that point. Once it's chewed down to a soft mass, it's mostly crumbly and not resembling much at all like real meat.
These pieces appear to be very lean, I don't find any visible pieces of fat, no tendon and no gristle, and I didn't encounter any stringy sinews.
As for clean eating, I'm finding a good deal of tiny meat fragments, chile pepper seeds falling on my lap and desk, perhaps due to the more brittle nature of this Sweet & Spicy Orange. I didn't get any finger residue however.
Spencer's Jerky will soon be selling this Sweet & Spicy Orange variety from its website at a price of $3.50 for 1.75oz bag. Shipping is flat rate at $4.95 per order. So if you were to order four bags, it would work out to a price of $2.71 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.71 price per ounce, it's a decent value. I actually find a lot of snackability for its unique, and overall excellent flavor. But the brittle meat consistency and crumbly chewing texture isn't providing me with the meat chewing satisfaction that I look for. Even though the price is quite high compared to the one of the mass-market brands you'd find at the grocery store, I think it still provides some value for your money.
As a Sweet & Spicy Orange variety, at the same price, it's a good value. I can taste all three of those qualities quite well, particularly the orange. I haven't run across much Orange-flavored beef jerky, and so if that's what you particularly want to taste, I think you'll get some good bang for your buck.
I'm giving this a good rating.
This Sweet & Spicy Orange variety from Spencer's Beef Jerky is noted for a well-defined orange flavor, more like a combination of orange juice and orange peel zest, with some fruity tanginess. The addition of the chile pepper is an excellent touch providing some light flavor and a medium-level burn. Then, throw in the light soy sauce and worcestershire sauce marinade, and it was all I needed to keep reaching for more and more.
And I happen to be one who loves citrus, particularly when used as a marinade. The concept of orange-marinated beef seasoned with chile pepper, reminds me of carne asada. But this doesn't taste like carne asada, yet still offers that fruity, tangy flavor. I wasn't sure this jerky would taste like orange, but yet it offers a strong orange flavor.
The meat consistency in my opinion is too brittle for beef jerky, tending to snap apart at the grains too easily. And then in the chewing, it crumbles apart and never feels anything like real meat. It also didn't provide any of the natural meat flavors that I look for in jerky, but it was the meat consistency and chewing texture that kept from me assigning the higher "best" rating.
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