Next in the series on Mountain Ranch Jerky is this Mountain Peppered Beef Jerky. See my previous review of their Original Beef Jerky.
Mountain Ranch Jerky is a brand of Mountain Ranch Smokehouse located in Fruitland, UT. The company is mostly known for its jerky products, but also smokes hams and turkeys, and makes meat sticks too. They also have a restaurant where you can get yourself a burger or steak.
According to the company, this "Mountain Peppered" beef jerky is their signature seller. It's different from the company's "Original Peppered" beef jerky, in that this Mountain variety includes sugar, and leaves out the onion powder.
Beef, salt, sugar, monosodium glutamate, pepper, garlic powder, sodium nitrite.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a well-noticed smoky and salty flavor.
The chewing flavor starts with a some natural meat flavor, and an increased saltiness.
For being marketed as a "Mountain Peppered" beef jerky, it holds up to that claim somewhat. I do taste a light black pepper flavor in the back of my mouth, but it's clearly not the dominant taste of this jerky. Even though there's a decent amount of black pepper visible on these slices, you only get a light taste. It does, however, build up intensity over several bites, but largely what I get is the black pepper aftertaste, as opposed to its actual flavor.
Otherwise, this jerky is largely marked by a high saltiness, more so than the company's Original variety, even though the two varieties have the same sodium content. It's at a high enough level to where it's too salty for me.
The natural meat flavors are strong enough to be easily noticed, but seem to be overshadowed by the high saltiness. There's also a strong smoky flavor in there that seems to help capture my interest. I also want to say the oily surface also seems to add a touch of flavor too.
As for the addition of sugar in this Mountain Peppered variety, it's not really sweet. In fact, if you didn't know this contained sugar you wouldn't realize it. And as for not having the onion powder that Original variety has, well I think it loses some character as a result.
Overall, what you're going to notice the most is the smoky natural meat flavor, and a high degree of saltiness. The black pepper is light, adding just a touch of flavor in the background.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced medium to thick, and in medium sized slabs.
This is a dry jerky, but having an oily surface feel, perhaps due to the vacuum packaging drawing the oils up the surface. The pieces have a bit of flexibility, but easily crack apart with little bending. Tearing pieces apart with my fingers is easy to do, and chewing seems moderately easy.
The chewing texture starts out feeling stiff, but can be easily bent and chewed down. It takes about 15 seconds before it's rendered into a soft mass. At that point, it feels just like chewing a steak, cooked well-done, but not quite as dry.
I can see some small flecks of fat here and there on some slices, but overall minimal. I didn't encounter any gristle or tender, or wind up with any unchewable wads of tissue, but I do feel a fair amount of stringiness.
As for clean eating, handling this jerky leaves some sticky oils on my fingertips with bits of black pepper mixed in. It's enough that I have to lick and wipe them off before touching my keyboard. Otherwise, tearing pieces apart doesn't create any tiny bits of meat flying off.
Mountain Ranch Smokehouse sells this Mountain Peppered beef jerky from its website at a price of $5.99 for a 3.5oz package. I bought six packages, each a different variety, with $2.99 shipping, which brings a total of $38.93. That works out to a price of $1.85 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.85 per ounce price, this provides an decent value. I'm getting a good deal of snackability from its smoky natural meat flavor, its good meat consistency, and good chewing texture, but the high saltiness seems to temper that enjoyment. The $1.85 price per ounce is the same price you'd pay for the national brands at the grocery store; you'll get better flavor and consistency, but you'll also get more saltiness.
As a peppered beef jerky, at the same $1.85 price per ounce, it's a fair value. I do get some black pepper flavor in each bite, but it's largely after several bites that I start to feel its aftertaste. There really isn't much black pepper flavor in each single bite.
I'm giving this an average rating.
This Mountain Peppered beef jerky from Mountain Ranch Jerky offers a good tasting natural meat flavor with a lot of smokiness. Combined with a good meat consistency and steak-like chewing texture, I find myself wanting to eat more and more of this. And that could have been enough to make it an above-average jerky.
But it's high degree of saltiness is just too high for me, and seems to negate what positives this jerky has going for it. Even though it has the same sodium content as Mountain Ranch's Original beef jerky, it tastes like it's more salty.
As a peppered beef jerky, I'm just not getting enough black pepper flavor. Perhaps other folks might disagree, but I'm tasting more of the black pepper aftertaste than the actual black pepper itself. Perhaps all it needs are some larger pepper corn chunks, but in smaller quantities, that my teeth can bite into here and there, and give me a burst of flavor. Also not helping is the fact that the saltiness is so strong, it's hard to taste anything else.
As for my recommended beer pairing, I'd go with something lighter and refreshing, like a cream ale.
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