Monday, August 25, 2008

Ray's Own Brand - Original

Ray's Own Brand - OriginalRay's Own Brand is a brand of beef jerky produced by a business of the same name, located in San Luis Obispo, CA. It was started by Raymond Cattaneo and wife Nina Marie in 2003.

The Cattaneo's beef jerky business follows their successful barbecue service, Cattaneo BBQ Service, which they've been doing since 1971 across the central coast of California. Ray's grandfather was William Cattaneo who started Cattaneo Bros. Beef Jerky, and since the age of 9 has been working in the meat smoking trade.

Ray's Own Brand is a husband & wife operation with Ray overseeing the individual batch processing, with Nina Marie directing all business operations. They make their own beef jerky at their own faciliy.

The valleys around the California central coast have long been known for its cattle ranches and vineyards, but only recently began seeing an interest for its artisan jerky.


Beef, water, cider vinegar, salt, black pepper, garlic, sodium nitrite.


The first I taste I get is the natural meat flavors, followed by some saltiness. With some chewing, I can pick up some of the garlic. I can also detect a bit of tanginess, which I think is the cider vinegar marinade.

The natural meat flavors seems to be the dominant taste in this, and lasts throughout the chew. It's a sharp beef taste, if you can understand that description. It would be like the difference between mild cheddar cheese and sharp cheddar cheese.

The garlic taste I described remains slight, and is something I can only detect when I analyze carefully what I'm tasting. Otherwise, you'd never notice it.

In terms of saltiness, this is maybe just a tad on the salty side, but just fine for my tastes. I don't get a salt-scorching, or feel the need to drink something. Note that the nutrition label below represents the full 2oz package, instead of the standard 1oz serving.

Even though there is quite a bit of black pepper to be seen on these pieces, I don't really get much taste of it. It's just something that sits in the background, or ambiance.

Overall, this is a great tasting jerky that emphasizes its natural meat flavors pretty well. It's got just enough seasoning in salt, garlic, and a bit of tanginess left over from the vinegar, to give it a complexity.

Meat Consistency

These are cut from whole pieces of meat, sliced very thick, and in small to medium sized pieces.

This is largely a dry jerky, but based on how thick this is, it doesn't really flex. If you bend it with the grain, it breaks apart.

It's very easy to tear off, if you do so with the grain. It's best to grab a grain, and strip it off like string cheese. Chewing requires some more effort, mostly due to these pieces being so thick.

That "tanginess" I described in the flavor I think may be the result of these pieces being so thick, that the cider vinegar in the middle of the widths doesn't totally evaporate.

There some small bit of fat to be seen on these pieces. I don't find any tendon or gristle, but there's some membrane to be found in these slices which remain in my mouth during chewing, but can be easily swallowed.

Overall, this jerky has a great meat consistency.

Ray's Own Brand - Original

Ray's Own Brand - Original


I'm giving this a best rating.

This Original variety from Ray's Own Brand provides an excellent natural meat taste, with just enough flavorings to make this interesting, all in great meat consistency. The meat flavors alone make me reach for more and more, with that slight bit of tanginess.

If I was going to be stuck on an tiny island in the middle of the ocean, and I could have 100 pounds of jerky, but only from one brand, it could be this one. I can't yet say for sure this is definitely it, but this would certainly be in the running.

My beer recommendation for this: a kriek lambic.

Rating: Best (5/5)

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  1. This is the best beef jerky I have ever had. It is so filling that I use it as my lunch on the run. I love that there are no preservatives and almost not fat. Great job Ray!

  2. Steve I am glad they sent you samples after I recommended it to you! This stuff is so good - it is by far the best jerky I have ever tasted. I bought a home dehydrator (excalibur) and use a hanging method just to try and imitate these guys. I am still working on the recipe but when I get it down in a few years :) I will send you some.