Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Organic Prairie Beef Jerky - Spicy Hickory

Organic Prairie Beef Jerky - Spicy HickoryOrganic Prairie is a brand name belonging to Organic Valley Family of Farms, based out of La Farge, WI. It's the nation's oldest and largest cooperative of organic farmers. Organic Prairie actually represents the cooperative's meat division with about 150 family farmers. Organic Valley as a whole has over 1,200 family farmers across 32 states and one Canadian province.

Organic Prairie's jerky carries the USDA Organic seal, and includes three flavors, Classic, Smoky Chipotle, and this Spicy Hickory.

Interestingly, this Spicy Hickory variety used to be just plain "Hickory" variety, and had been the only variety offered by the cooperative. It wasn't until March of 2008 that they introduced the Classic and Smoky Chipotle varieties that they renamed it to "Spicy Hickory". I don't know if they changed the flavor as well.


Organic beef, organic soy sauce, organic cane sugar, organic apple cider vinegar, organic spices, natural smoke flavoring, salt.


Off the surface the first taste I get is a smoky taste, that does have a hickory resemblance, and the aroma of spices (I think chili powder), wafting up into my nostrils. There's a also a very slight sweetness. Moving into the chew, some of the saltiness comes out, and that's about it.

Note that the package is labeled, "Hot". Yet, there's nothing hot about this. The "Spicy Hickory" advertisement is perhaps correct only to the point of having a hickory smoke flavor, but the spiciness is weak. There is a spiciness to this, but I'd rate it as mild. It's only after several pieces does the spiciness warm up to a mild-medium hotness.

The natural meat flavors are largely absent. That's too bad since this is a certified organic product. It would be nice to taste the natural goodness of beef the way Mother Nature intended it to taste. Instead, I taste nothing beefy or meaty about this. But for being free of preservatives, it doesn't taste stale.

On the saltiness, it's not very salty at all.

For the most part, the predominant taste in this is the seasonings, which is largely a chili powder (I believe), followed by a saltiness, and then followed by the hickory smoke taste. That alone really doesn't provide a lot to be desired. I could have poured the same concoction of flavors on a rice cake and gotten the same satisfaction.

Overall, this jerky has an "ok" taste that doesn't totally live up to its billing as "hot" and as being "spicy hickory".

Meat Consistency

These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced average to thick, and in small pieces.

It's largely a soft and tender jerky, being easy to tear apart and easy to chew. The size of the pieces are small, but still large enough that you'd want to bite it in half or thirds. It has something of a mushy nature as well when chewed down; it doesn't totally chew like a real steak.

They also leave behind a thin layer of powder on my fingers, but otherwise is a mostly clean jerky.

In terms of chewy chunks of other stuff, I don't really see any fat, tendon, or gristle here.

Organic Prairie Beef Jerky - Spicy Hickory

Organic Prairie Beef Jerky - Spicy Hickory
Product Value

I paid $4.99 for this 2 ounce package from a Whole Foods Market in Irvine, CA. That works out to a price of $2.50 per ounce, making this an expensive buy.

For general jerky snacking purposes, it's a weak buy. You're not getting much taste satisfaction. And while it's easy to eat, it has something of a mushy meat texture.

As a spicy hickory variety, it's a weak buy as well. It's not that spicy at all, and doesn't live up to the "Hot" label on the package. But it does have a hickory taste. But at $2.50 per ounce, it's not worth the money to just to get a hickory smoke flavor.


I'm giving this a fair rating.

The lack of any natural meat flavors really cripples this jerky. That leaves the seasonings to do the full job of pleasing my palate. But the combination of chili powder, salt, sugar, and smoke flavors didn't do a good job of knocking me out. While it might be easy to eat, it's meat is slightly on the mushy side.

For the most part, I wasn't really inspired to keep reaching for more. Though if I was hungry, I might gobble this stuff down. It's doesn't taste bad, it just doesn't have a good taste either.

I want to support the family farmers of this cooperative, but this jerky's combination of lackluster taste, and high price, won't have me buying this again.

I think a creamy smooth stout will make a great beer companion with this.

Rating: Fair

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