Last in the series on Steve's Original is this Paleokit Original. See my previous reviews of their Paleokit Coconut Pineapple and Just Jerky.
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.
The "Paleokit" is his flagship product, 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 Paleokit Original is a mixture of cranberries, strawberries, almonds, pecans and macadamia nuts.
Beef jerky (beef, sea salt, apple juice concentrate, paprika, pineapple juice concentrate, beet powder, black pepper, garlic powder, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)), infused cranberries (cranberries, apple juice concentrate, sunflower oil), infused strawberries (strawberries, apple juice concentrate, sunflower oil, citric acid), almonds, macadamia nuts, pecans.
Starting with a piece of jerky, the first thing I taste from the surface is a heavy sweetness, and light saltiness. There's also a light oily flavor.
The chewing flavor starts with an increased saltiness, and a light black pepper flavor, along with a light natural meat flavor.
The almonds are somewhat soft, having lost their crunch, and actually have a light strawberry flavor to it. The macadamias have a stronger strawberry flavor, with a bit of a cranberry tanginess. The same with the pecan chunks. None offer much nutty flavor, just a bit.
The strawberry and cranberry pieces themselves have a fresh flavor, as opposed to a heavily sugared flavor you might get from a bag of dried fruit. The cranberries still have some tartness. However, other pieces of fruit have soaked up the oils from the beef jerky and have lost much of their flavor.
The beef jerky itself seems to have light touches of fruity flavor, mostly as strawberry, but it still overwhelmingly tastes like the company's Just Jerky product, which I didn't really feel was all that unique or interesting.
But when I combine a piece of jerky along with some pieces of fruit and nuts and eat them at once, I get a rather tasty combination of flavors.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced into bite sized pieces with a medium thickness. The strawberries and cranberries are in chunks. The almonds are a mixture of whole pieces and chunks.
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, it's not. I'm getting a lot of oily and sticky residue on my fingers from pulling pieces of meat and fruit apart, just to eat together. Each handling requires a licking and wiping before touching my keyboard.
Steve's Original sells this Paleokit Original from its website at a price of $19.75 for five packages, with each package weighing 4.3oz. Add to that shipping of $9.62 for delivery into Southern California, and it comes to a total of $29.37. That works out to $1.37 per ounce.
For general beef jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.37 per ounce price, it's a decent value. I'm getting an average snackability for an overall satisfactory flavor, an average meat consistency, and good chewing texture. That price is considerably lower than what you'll pay for the major brands of jerky at the grocery store, yet seems to offer a comparable snackability.
But as a strawberry, cranberry, almond, pecan, macadamia, beef jerky combo, at the same $1.37 per ounce price, it's a good value. There's plenty of fruit and nuts in this, and if you throw in some of those pieces with the meat, you get a lot of strawberry and cranberry flavor that seems to make it a better snack altogether.
I'm giving this a good rating.
This Paleokit Original from Steve's Original does a good job of mixing fruit flavors with beef jerky. It manages to retain the flavor of strawberries and cranberries as well as the flavor of beef jerky, and let's you mix them together. The nuts themselves don't add much of their natural flavors, but add only some nutty texture to the chewing. The jerky itself is not really that unique or interesting, but when you toss in some chunks of fruit, you get a burst of tangy, sweet flavors.
Considering this has cranberries in it, I kept comparing it to the Tanka Bar, which contain whole cranberries, and is also marketed a sport snack. Yet the cranberries in the Tanka Bar were absolutely tasteless, and lost all of their tart. But this Paleokit Original manages to retain the fruity and tart flavors.
And the same with the strawberries. There are some chinese-style beef jerky brands that use strawberry jam for flavoring, and it just never excited me when I tried it. But the way Steve's Original handles it, it comes out with more of a fresh strawberry flavor.
But this Paleokit Original, just like with the Paleokit Coconut and Pineapple, is quite sticky, oily and messy to handle. If there was a way to give it the cleaner handling of trail mix, I think it would greatly enhance the snackability.
For my recommended beer pairing, I'd stick with a fruity beer, like the Pyramid Apricot Ale, or the Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat.
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