Steve's Original is the creation of Steve Liberati, the founder of Steve's Club, a fitness center for disadvantaged youth. Steve's Club was started in Camden, NJ to teach kids about health and fitness, and keep them off the streets.
He created the "Steve's Original" line of snack foods to offer his kids protein-rich, all-natural foods. His signature product is the "Paleokit" a mixture of jerky, nuts, and fruit based on the Paleo Diet, a concept in eating foods consumed in the paleolithic era when humans just hunted and gathered. The beef comes from grass-fed and free-range cattle.
This particular product I'm reviewing here, "Just Jerky", is simply minus the fruit and nuts. But I'll be reviewing a couple of the Paleokits in the following weeks.
Profits from the sales of Steve Original products goes towards keeping Steve's Club operational.
Beef jerky (beef, sea salt, apple juice concentrate, paprika, pineapple juice concentrate, beet powder, black pepper, garlic powder, ascorbic acid).
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a moderate saltiness, and a light black pepper. There's a faint touch of sweet.
The chewing flavor starts with a light natural meat flavor, and then followed by a bit more saltiness, and a touch of garlic.
The ingredient that seems to have the dominant flavor in this jerky are the natural meat flavors. But it's still a light flavor. It's just that the other flavors are light, and this jerky overall has a light flavor. The natural meat flavor is comparable to that of a grilled steak with a light garlic and black pepper seasoning. There's also considerable oily flavor as well.
The apple juice and pineapple juice ingredients don't really add any flavor to this. There's no fruity flavor, and no tanginess. Paleo diets tend to rely on fruit as a sweetener in lieu of using sugar. And this jerky does have a faint touch of sweetness, but overall you're not going to find this as sweet.
The level of saltiness in this feels to be at a medium level.
Overall, you're going to find this jerky with a light flavor, with the natural meat flavors driving the most noticeable flavor, and a light garlic and black pepper seasoning.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced into bite sized pieces with a medium thickness.
This a dry jerky with an oily surface feel. The pieces have a lot of flexibility, and are quite chewy. Overall, ease of chewing seems moderate, somewhere between easy and tough.
The chewing texture starts out with a fair amount of initial chewing resistance, and take several chews to get down to a soft mass. At that point, it feels just like a eating a grilled steak cooked well done.
I don't see any fat on these pieces, and no visible signs of gristle or tendon. But I do find a lot of stringiness, and some of that tends to render down to an unchewable wad of tissue.
As for clean eating, I'm getting a lot of oily residue on my fingers, enough that I have to lick and wipe my fingers before touching my keyboard.
Steve's Original sells this Just Jerky from its website at a price of $23.75 for five packages, with each package weighing 2.8oz. Add to that shipping of $9.62 for delivery into Southern California, and it comes to a total of $33.37. That works out to $2.38 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.38 per ounce price, it's a fair value. I'm getting an average snackability for an overall satisfactory flavor, an average meat consistency, and good chewing texture. That price is higher than what you'll pay for the major brands of jerky at the grocery store, though I think it's slightly better.
I'm giving this an average rating.
This "Just Jerky" from Steve's Original is rather light on flavor compared to the many other original flavors of jerky I've reviewed. It's mostly the natural meat flavors I taste, but not much else to make it interesting aside from a light garlic and black pepper.
The meat consistency is quite average as well, not spectacular, but not bad. It does chew like steak, once you get it chewed down to a soft mass. But it's rather oily, making me lick and wipe my fingers each time I handle a piece.
Albeit Just Jerky is not the company's flagship product, it's their Paleokits. But I wanted to start with Just Jerky to establish a baseline of what their jerky tastes like.
And keep in mind that Steve's Original is marketed as a sport food based on the Paleo Diet. Compared to other sport-marketed meat snacks that I've reviewed, it's actually quite superior. Most brands of sport meat snacks use chopped & formed meat with a lot of fat and gristly bits. This stuff is whole muscle and very lean.
My recommended beer pairing for this, go with a simple IPA. Try the Stone IPA or the Sierra Nevada Torpedo. The stronger hops and lighter malt should help bring out the flavor in this jerky.
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