Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Umpqua Indian Foods - Jalapeno

Umpqua Indian Foods - JalapenoBy now you might have noticed that I love foods spiced with chiles, particularly jalapenos, or at least the pickled ones anyways. I've reviewed a couple of jalapeno beef jerkies already, and while I did get a good sense of jalapeno flavor in them, I never found one with a strong flavor.

So I'm wondering if this jalapeno variety from Umpqua Indian Foods might become the first "best" rated of this beef jerky flavoring. The company originally got started 1998, founded by the Umpqua Indian Development Corporation, a division of the Cow Creek Band of Indians in Roseburg, OR. Over the years, they've managed to build up a following, and are now busy branding their jerky as "gourmet".

Umpqua Indian Foods claims to use only pectoral meat (from the shoulder area), instead of the Round which most jerky brands use. Supposedly, it's a more expensive piece of meat, but the company says it makes their jerky more moist and tender. They go on to explain that their meat is soaked overnight in a brine solution, and then air dried.


Beef, water, jalapeno peppers, teriyaki seasoning, maple sugar cure (salt, cane & maple sugars, dextrose, sodium nitrite), cayenne pepper, modern cure (salt, sodium nitrite).


The first taste I get from the surface of these pieces is a slight sweetness followed immediately by a jalapeno pepper flavor. I can also pick up the aroma of the meat, and a taste of salt. Moving into the chew, that salt flavor comes out more, followed by the natural meat flavors. A spicy tingle from the jalapenos starts to work on the back of my mouth.

For being a jalapeno variety, I get a light, though still noticeable, taste of jalapeno. This doesn't dominate the flavor of the jerky, and that taste mostly comes from the surface. Once I get into the chewing, that flavor has largely dissipated. For the record, we're talking about the flavor of pickled jalapenos, not raw ones. I do see pieces of jalapeno peppers on this.

In terms of being hot, this isn't. I'd rate this as mild-medium on my hot scale.

The natural meat flavors are easily identified in this. It's a mellow, smooth meat flavor, but like the jalapenos, it's a light flavor. It's not going to sock you in the mouth with the taste of beef.

The saltiness is not strong either, more like moderate.

If any flavor has the dominant taste in this jerky, it's the natural meat flavors. The jalapeno flavoring is only there to enhance the overall enjoyment, not really become the star of the show. I'd actually give the saltiness the second most dominant flavor, with the jalapeno being the third.

Overall, it's a good tasting jerky, but like with other varieties I've reviewed from Umpqua Indian Foods, it's not jam-packed with flavor. You're not going to find anything in this that awakens your senses and makes you dance the Charleston.

Meat Consistency

This appears to be slices of whole meat, sliced average thickness, and in small pieces.

It's a dry jerky, even though Umpqua Indian Foods claims their use of pectoral meat makes this moist and tender. It's dry enough that it cracks and breaks apart if I bent it slightly. For that matter it's easy to tear, just bend it a little and it breaks apart. It's also easy to chew.

But it does chew like a real steak. I get a good sense that I'm eating real beef, and not something gummy or mushy.

And it appears to be very lean, I found no pieces of fat, no tendon, and no gristle.

Umpqua Indian Foods - Jalapeno

Umpqua Indian Foods - Jalapeno
Product Value

Jerky.com sells this Jalapeno variety from its website at a price of $35.99 for 16 ounces. That works out to a price of $2.24 per ounce, making it an expensive buy. Keep in mind that price also includes the shipping.

For general jerky snacking purposes, it offers a decent buy. You will get a tasty jerky, and one that's easy to eat, and providing a steak-like consistency, all of which adds to its snackability. But it won't knock you out with tons of flavor, and with the higher price, you may not see this as a good bang for your buck.

As as jalapeno variety, it may present a better value, only because jalapeno flavored jerkies are not easily found, and because I did get a decent taste of jalapeno flavor. If you're a jalapeno freak, you might see the higher price of this jerky as a non-issue.


I'm giving this a good rating.

This jalapeno variety from Umpqua Indian Foods offers a great tasting jerky with an easy-to-eat meat consistency, that chews like real meat. It provides a good sense of jalapeno pepper flavoring, with a smooth and mellow meat flavor.

I only kept it from a best rating because it's taste overall is moderate. That is, it's not packed with tons of flavor. I want a jerky that's going to waltz right into my mouth, plant a flag, and proclaim, "this tongue now belongs to us!" Instead, the flavor of this jerky is rather passive; if I don't do the work in identifying its flavors, I might miss it altoghether.

It'll make a great snack for doing something else, like driving your car, watching television, or chatting with a friend over some beers. It'll give you a good flavor, satisfy your need to chew, without pulling your attention away.

And as for that beer, a wheat beer (hefeweizen) should work well with this.

Rating: Good

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