Morels was created by Stanley Chase, originally as a food truck in the Louisville area, and then transitioned to vegan food brand making sandwiches and jerky. Morels' jerky is made from soy curls. Chase had initially tried to make something called "char-sue", but left it in the oven a bit too long and it came out something like jerky.
This soy jerky is gluten-free and still has 12 grams of protein per 2.5oz bag.
Currently Morels has two flavors, this "Ned's Spicy Chipotle" and a "Judas' Original". They're working on a Sriracha Maple.
Soy curls, water, braggs liquid aminos, brown sugar, olive oil, lime juice, lemon juice, ketchup (no HFCS), vinegar, liquid smoke, garlic powder, chipotle powder, ancho powder, onion powder, pepper, cloves, nutmeg.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a light soy sauce flavor, followed by a seasoning of chipotle, and even some lighter garlic & onion, along with a bit of tanginess.
The chewing brings in more of the soy sauce and seasonings, along with a light bit of chipotle and ancho powder. There's a light bit of burn brewing in the back of my mouth.
For being marketed as a spicy chipotle flavored jerky, it seems to hold up. I definitely get a spiciness from this, not really that hot, but hot enough to notice and enjoy. I also get a chipotle flavor, though not a very pronounced one, but again, enough to notice and enjoy.
Otherwise, the flavor that seems to define this jerky overall is a combination of a soy sauce, the soy curls, and the light chipotle seasoning. I can pick up traces of the garlic and onion too.
Together, as a soy-jerky, it's not bad at all, it's actually quite good tasting. There's no beef flavor, obviously, but the soy flavor in this doesn't overpower like with other soy-jerky brands. It doesn't have that "Lucky Charms soaked in milk" flavor that other brands have. This is a more clean flavor emphasizing the seasonings.
On my personal heat scale, this seems to generate a medium level of burn (Level 3 out of 5).
These are small bite sized pieces, looking almost like a sponge that had been shredded into chunks.
It's dry to the touch, with a sponge-like feel, and a sponge-like chewing.
The chewing texture starts out, spongey, and but chews down easily. It takes on a mushy quality, similar to beef jerky that marinated in papain. Once chewed down to a soft mass, it's largely mushy.
Otherwise, I didn't encounter any strange crunchy, stringy, greasy, bits or pieces. There weren't any surprises, just very consistent, spongey, mushy chew.
In terms of clean eating, it's very clean, leaving no residue on my fingers, though some scant bits of seasoning on my lap.
Morels the Vegan Butcher doesn't sell this jerky online, it only distributes to other stores. But they do have a store list where you can find it, perhaps even buy it online from one of them.
They will, however, sell you case of this jerky, which contains 10 bags, at a price of $35.00. With $15.00 shipping (for four cases), the total comes to $50.00. That works out to $2.00 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.00 per ounce price, it's a good value (assuming you're a vegan snacker). It's clearly better than other soy-based jerky brands I've tried thus far.
I'm giving this an average rating.
Really, I'm evaluating this product simply as a snack, not necessarily against other meat-based products, and not necessarily against other vegan products.
This Ned's Spicy Chipotle Jerky from Morels The Vegan Butcher has a great flavor, with a noticeable chipotle flavor and a moderate level of heat. It even tastes much like what you'd expect jerky to taste, but without the beef flavor and with more of the soy. It's a cleaner flavor than the other soy-based jerky brands I've reviewed, and doesn't make me want to upchuck.
But the chewing texture feels spongey, and isn't quite what I've come to enjoy as a snacker. Even compared to other soy-based food products (and being half-Japanese I've had many), I can't seem to get over that spongey chewing. But, if you can get over that, it's an awesome snack. Vegan jerky aficionados, on the other hand, can rejoice and relish in a jerky-product that actually tastes good.
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