The company started out in 1976 strictly as a beef jerky manufacturer, then as sales increased, they added beef sausage to their line up. Eventually they grew to include several other brands including Hi-Country Meat Snacks, Hickory Kist Meat Snacks, Hi-Country Trading Post, and Montana Pet Foods. Later they went on to include jerky marinades, rubs, brines, and seasonings.
Hi-Country makes beef jerky in their own USDA inspected facility. They offer four meat styles, "Flat Style", "TenderSlice Strip", "Ranch Steak", and "Pucks". This Original flavor I have is from the Flat Style.
Beef, sugar, dextrose, salt, pineapple juice, monosodium glutamate, lemon juice, natural hickory smoke, spices, natural flavorings, sodium ascorbate, sodium nitrite
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a light sweetness, followed by a light saltiness. I can pick up a faint fruity note.
The chewing flavor starts with an increased fruitiness, with a light lemon definition, yet it's still light overall. I can sense that pineapple aftertaste, imparting a touch of its tart, tanginess. The saltiness picks up more in the latter half of chewing. There's a subtle natural meat flavor, and a light black pepper spice.
Overall, the flavors that seem to define this jerky more than any other is the light fruity character, supported by the light sweet. But those flavors tend to remain in the first half of chewing. Otherwise, it's a moderate saltiness that takes over, backed by a light black pepper. After eating several pieces, that's largely what remains the dominant flavor. A touch of garlic seems to be mixed in there.
While the package says, "Smoke Flavoring Added", I don't really notice it that much, it too is subtle. The level of saltiness feels moderate.
I found one medium-sized piece with a some flecks of fat, and it tasted a rather rancid.
In short, it's a mild jerky, offering no heat except for a bit of black pepper spice, that starts with with lightly, sweet fruity character, that soon parts way for a moderately salty, black pepper taste.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced into slabs of small to medium sizes, and sliced medium thick,
This is a dry jerky with a dry surface feel. They have some flexibility, but are otherwise stiff. Eating feels moderate to tough.
The chewing texture starts out feeling stiff, with a little bit of a soft plastic feel and resistance. It takes on meaty feel after some chews, and tends to feel meatier as chewing goes on. But this never really feels like real pieces of steak, retaining a little of a waxy, plastic feel.
Most of these slabs are fat free, however I found one slab with a few spots of fat that had turned the flavor somewhat rancid. Otherwise, I found no gristle or tendon, and little stringiness and unchewable tissues.
In terms of clean eating, it's very clean, leaving no residue on my fingers.
Hi-Country Snack Foods sells this Original Flat Style from its website at a price of $13.95 for a 10oz package. If you bought two packages, shipping comes to $9.95. That works out to a price of $1.89 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.89 per ounce price, it's a fair value. I'm getting a basic level of snackability for a satisfying flavor, good meat consistency, though average chewing texture. Compared to other major brands of jerky, it's priced the same and offers the same snackability.
This Original Flat Style variety from Hi-Country Beef Jerky offers a flavor that starts with a lightly sweet, fruity character that eventually becomes taken over by a moderate saltiness and black pepper. There isn't much of the natural meat flavors, almost none.
The overall flavor seems much in line with what I'd expect from Original offerings of Jack Link's, Oberto, or Bridgford. It has that major, national brand flavor, as opposed to an artisan, or gourmet character.
The meat consistency seems good in that it's mostly all meat and very little fat, gristle, or unchewable tissues. But this jerky tends to offer moderate-to-tough chewing, and never really feels like eating pieces of real steak, maintaining a light, waxy, plastic character.
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