Monday, September 15, 2008

Ray's Own Brand - Peppered

Ray's Own Brand - PepperedRay's Own Brand is a line of beef jerky produced by the husband and wife team of Raymond Cattaneo and Nina Marie. The business has been around since 2003, based out of San Luis Obispo, CA.

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 has been in the meat industry since the age of 9, when he started working in his family's business.

Ray's Own Brand makes their own beef jerky at their facility in SLO. Ray oversees the individual batch processing, while Nina Marie directs all business operations.

The Cattaneo's jerky business benefits from a growing interest in "artisan jerky" across the central coast of California, an area long known for its wines and cattle ranches.


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


The first taste that hits my tongue is the tangy flavor of the cider vinegar. In fact, this jerky has that aroma about it. I do pick up a good amount of black pepper taste from the surface of these pieces. Going into the chew, I get the taste of salt and the natural meat flavors.

But for the most part, it's the tangy taste of the cider vinegar marinade that dominates the surface taste of this jerky, which then shares space with the salt and the natural meat flavors as I begin chewing.

The natural meat flavors have a very distinct and defined taste that I can differentiate from the other flavors. It has a certain fine quality that reminds a jerky lover like me why I eat this stuff. It's similar to eating medium-rare rib-eye steak in a jerky form, with a spiced up outside, and a soft-meaty inside.

While salt is a major flavor component in this jerky, it doesn't really steal the spotlight. The sodium content in this medium. Note that the nutrition label pictured below represents the total package, as opposed to the standard 1oz serving.

As for being advertised as a black peppered variety, I do get a good sense of black pepper taste, but I wouldn't consider it as having the dominant taste either. It's just enough to let you know it's there somewhere in the front, but still allows the natural meat flavors and the marinade to get the bigger mention.

Overall, I find this to be a very addicting jerky from Ray's Own Brand. In fact, I've tried all the varieties from them, and love them all. It's that great meat flavor with the tangy cider vinegar marinade that forms the basis of this jerky.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be cuts of whole meat, sliced very thick, and in small to medium sized pieces.

This is dry jerky, and being sliced so thick, I can't really bite a piece off. Instead, you need to grab a meat grain with your teeth, and pull it apart like a eating string cheese. Once you strip a piece off, suck on it for several seconds and soak up the flavors. Then bite down on it easily, allowing the inner flavors to leach out. Then start chewing. That's really how this jerky ought to be enjoyed. Finally, wash it down with your favorite beer.

This is not a soft jerky by any means. If you don't like tough jerky, this may not be for you. But I recommend trying it just to experience the great meat flavor this has to offer.

Otherwise, I found no tendon, gristle, connective tissue, or fat on these pieces.

Ray's Own Brand - Peppered

Ray's Own Brand - Peppered
Product Rating

Ray's Own Brand sells this Peppered variety from its website at a price of $7.00 for a 4oz package. That works out to a price of $1.75 per ounce, putting this in the average price range.

I'd say this offers a great value because it gives you a great flavor that I find very difficult to resist, and thereby makes this very snackable. The tough meat consistency may be an obstacle for some, but can be mitigated by eating in the way I described above.

As a black peppered variety, it has a good value. It does provide a good amount of black pepper taste, but not a strong one. The black pepper here is largely to enhance the natural meat flavors and marinade.

But on its own merits, this is certainly a jerky I look forward to eating again, and is worth the $1.75 per ounce.


I'm giving this a best rating.

I just can't deny the wonderful flavor of this Peppered jerky from Ray's Own Brand. It's the natural meat flavors and the tangy taste of the cider vinegar that turns this jerky into a vice the local police department might want to add to their watch list.

While you can argue on the tough meat consistency, I just find this jerky to have such a great taste that it overcomes that.

In this day and age where many jerkies are tenderized to such a degree so as to appeal to women snackers, here's a "man's jerky". These are very thick slices of whole meat, where you get to taste the actual meat, and none of the sugary sweetness to bring out the inner-child in us. But yet, it's got a certain refined quality to it that tells you to skip the Budweiser or Coors, and get yourself a really good beer.

And as for that beer, I'd go for a lambic.

Rating: Best

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  1. I am a student at Cal Poly and I just bought your jerky from the Market and it really is the best! The jerky is super thick and the taste is amazing! I can't wait to try the other flavors.

  2. Rays is my favorite beef jerky ever!!! I love how flavorful it is and how fresh it is too!