Saturday, February 28, 2009

Caveman Jerky - Teriyaki

Caveman Jerky - TeriyakiThis teriyaki variety represents the final review in this series on Caveman Jerky. See my previous reviews of their Original Black Pepper and Crushed Red Pepper varieties.

Caveman Jerky is a brand of Caveman Jerky, Inc., based in Oakview, CA. It was started by Noah Staggs, who launched the company just a few years ago up in Grants Pass, OR, where his family is originally from. He uses an old family recipe that dates back to 1908.

Since then, he moved the company south to Oakview, and makes all the jerky himself, using beef he buys from People's Sausage Company, the maker of People's Choice Beef Jerky. Staggs describes his jerky as the "old-fashioned rip and tear style slab jerky", and uses no MSG, although it does include hydrolyzed soy protein, which bonds with the sodium, and creates MSG naturally.


Beef, sugar, soy sauce, seasoning (salt, spices, sugar, garlic powder, hydrolyzed soy protein).


When I pop a piece into my mouth the first thing I taste is a medium-level saltiness, with a slight bit of sweet, and then a grilled steak flavor with some black pepper and garlic rubbed in. Meanwhile, more salt flavor continues to leach out.

As I start chewing the natural meat flavors come out, along with more saltiness that seems to define itself as a soy sauce flavor.

For being advertised as a teriyaki variety, I don't taste any teriyaki in this. I do taste a strong soy sauce flavor, and I can taste some sweetness, but they don't marry into anything resembling teriyaki. I think there's clearly not enough sweetness here to pass as teriyaki, let alone the other components of ginger and sake.

It seems like that soy sauce flavor eventually becomes the dominant flavor of this jerky. I can identify it clearly as soy sauce, and not just a saltiness. Though, the saltiness is also quite strong. I'd put the two together as one dominant flavor. But, I can taste this combination while sucking on a piece before chewing, and get a stronger soy sauce flavor in the chewing.

The natural meat flavors I rank as the second strongest flavor. I can taste it clearly while sucking a piece before chewing, and then of course the chewing brings it out even more. It has a taste just like a grilled steak, cooked medium-well, with salt, pepper, and garlic rubbed in.

The black pepper and garlic seasoning are also strong enough that I think they can be counted as a dominant flavor, and ranks third in strength. I can taste them sucking on the surface flavors, and get a strong aftertaste as well.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced to a medium thickness, and in large pieces.

It's a dry jerky, but still with some slight bit of moisture. Bending it with the grain causes it to crack early, while I can bend it against the grain almost 90 degrees before it cracks. It takes a little effort to tear with my fingers, and somewhat tough to chew.

The chewing texture, once I've chewed it down has a steak-like, fibrous feel, cooked medium. Nothing mushy, crumbly, or gummy. The initial bite of a piece can be hard and tough, and does take some work to get it to a malleable texture, but it's not so hard that it feels like a chunk of wood in my mouth. It's actually beneficial this jerky has a lot of surface flavor encouraging you to suck on a piece for awhile.

In terms of clean eating, my fingers pick up a fine film of oil handling these pieces, causing me to wipe them on my jeans. When tearing a piece apart, I do get fragments of meat falling off.

One piece had a sizeable chunk of fat, but didn't provide any spoiled flavor. The same piece also seems to have several sinews or membranous tissues running through the meat, and these remained in my mouth as unchewable wads. The other piece was quite lean.

Snack Value

Caveman Jerky sells this Teriyaki variety from their website at a price of $7.99 for 6 ounces. They sent me a free bag of this stuff as part of my purchase of their Original Black Pepper and Crushed Red Pepper, a total of 14 ounces between those two. (no guarantee they'll keep throwing in freebies like this). In all, I paid a total of $26.93 after you tack on tax and shipping. That works out to a price of $1.92 per ounce, putting this just inside the average price range, but close to being expensive.

For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.92 per ounce price, it seems to provide a good value. I'm picking up a lot of snackability from its good overall flavor and good chewing texture. It's definitely a far better jerky than the mass-market brands, and I think for this higher-end price, it's still providing value penny-for-penny.

As a teriyaki variety, also at the $1.92 per ounce price, it's a weak value. I just don't get much any teriyaki flavor from this. All I get is the soy sauce flavor, but just a smidgeon of sweetness, and none of the tangy pungent flavors of sake and ginger.


I'm giving this a good rating.

This teriyaki variety from Caveman Jerky is actually quite tasty, not as a teriyaki variety, but just for the flavors that it offers. I'm getting a lot of flavor intensity, mostly from the soy sauce, salt, and then moderate amounts of meat flavors, garlic and black pepper.

It provides enough of the natural meat flavors that you can enjoy this jerky as a meat lover, but get plenty of flavoring in the seasonings and marinade to keep you sucking out taste in between chews. In fact, I think this is probably Caveman's best variety of all.

It doesn't really live up to its billing as a teriyaki variety in my opinion. But that doesn't make it a bad jerky, it's actually quite good for what it's got. Maybe they could have called it something like "asian barbecue", and it would have been totally fitting. Other negatives I had with this is that's a little too salty for me. Perhaps just sticking with soy sauce might have provided enough salt. There's also the toughness of the chew, but it actually isn't all that bad. I don't want to discourage you into thinking it's tough, it's just more tough than the mass-market brands.

For a good beer pairing with this, I'd recommend a porter.

Rating: Good

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