Monday, July 14, 2008

Tom's Farms Beef Jerky - Homemade Style

Tom's Farms Beef Jerky - Homemade StyleTom's Farms is basically a produce stand on steroids, offering not only fresh fruits and veggies, but a hamburger restaurant, a mexican restaurant, pizza shop, duck pond, petting zoo, train rides, merry-go-round, shooting gallery, wine & cheese shop, candy store, furniture store, and garden center.

It's located in Southern California, just south of Corona, along Temescal Canyon Rd, just off from the I-15 freeway. The place suggests to me what Knott's Berry Farm in Orange County might have been like in the 1940s.

In fact, that's how Tom's Farms got its start, as a produce stand in the early 1970s, much like what Walter Knott started out with at Knott's Berry Farm. Today, it's a popular place for locals to hang out at, sit under the massive shade trees, enjoy some good American food, and listen to live bands.

Tom's Farms also makes its own beef jerky, which you can find at their Wine & Cheese shop. There isn't any labeling on it that provides ingredients lists or a nutrition label. So, I'm kinda winging it here!


The first thing that I can taste with this is a natural meat flavor, which oddly enough, tastes like catfish.

There's a lot of seasoning visible on this, mostly black pepper, and what looks like garlic seasoning, and it has a scent of cumin.

There isn't much of a smoky aroma in this.

Throughout the chew, what I taste is that "catfish" taste. I figured that this must be attributed to some kind of seasoning, but I'm not sure. If you've had catfish in cornbread batter, that's exactly what this taste like. Though it has a meat consistency like beef. I believe it's the natural meat flavors I'm tasting.

The visible seasoning on this tastes mostly of black pepper, salt, and garlic. I can also see a few tiny flecks of red, which suggest chile pepper, though I don't find this jerky to be hot by any means.

This was also basted with soy sauce, because I can detect it while extracting the juices from a softened up piece.

In terms of salt content, I don't really see this as being "salty".

Overall, it's a tasty jerky, albeit a catfish taste, whose flavor lasts throughout the chew. I wondered if this meat taste is just a stale taste; maybe this is starting to turn. But I don't find a "best if eaten by" date on this, or a date when it was made. There is no oxygen absorption packet in this, it was sealed only in a twist-tie.

The black pepper, salt, and garlic combination does help offset that fishy beef taste, though it dissipates quickly.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be cuts of real meat, sliced thin, in large sized pieces.

This is a dry jerky with a lot of flexibility. I find it on the tough side, requiring some effort to tear apart and chew. Mostly, it's not too bad, I've had worse. One piece was very tough, however. I'd say the "homemade style" labeling on this is appropriate.

I do find quite a bit of gristle on this. Every piece has some. The close-up below shows a nice thick piece in the middle. I found some of the gristle to be chewable, but others unchewable. I didn't find much in tendon or fat.

Overall the meat consistency is not that great. It's somewhat tough, and I found myself trying pull meat off of the gristle, and chuck the gristle away.

Product Value

My wife paid $6.30 for this 3.36oz bag at Tom's Farms, in Corona, CA. That works out to a price of $1.88 per oz, making this an average priced jerky, though on the upper end.

I find this to offer little value. I suppose the only reason why you might want to try this is because it was made at someone's house, truly "homemade style". Aside from that, you could get better jerky with a bag of Oberto, and even save yourself a few more cents.


I'm giving this a "fair" rating.

It doesn't really have that much "snack" factor in my book. The seasoning blend is about all I find myself enjoying. But the "catfish" meat taste is something of a turn off.

I do love catfish, however. And I tried to think of this as a catfish-flavored beef jerky. If it were advertised as such, this might actually get a higher rating from me. But I still have a few pieces left, and I don't feel enthusiastic about reaching for more.

The meat consistency, with its tough chew, and ample presence of gristle, doesn't help this jerky's rating either.

But despite how poorly this jerky is rating with me, I don't find it so bad to cast it off to my dogs. And at this price, I can save some for later.

Rating: Fair

Where to buy:


  1. That's a shame to hear. Tom's Farms was one of our favorite haunts when we lived n Orange County and a visit there every couple of weeks got us the freshest produce we've ever had, and fresh squeezed orange juice and tasty guacamole to die for. Guess you can't be great all the time.

  2. Their beef jerky is now a gourmet jerky. They have lots of flavors now made from locally raised brisket and packaged by a licensed jerky manufacturer.