Saturday, February 7, 2009

North Prairie Signature Bison Jerky - Original

North Prairie Signature Bison Jerky - OriginalNorth Prairie Signature is a brand belonging to North Prairie Signature, LLP, based out of Leeds, ND. The business was formed in January 2008 as an extension of North Prairie Bison Ranch, LLP, in the same town.

North Prairie Bison Ranch focuses on raising bison naturally, free of antibiotics and growth hormones. North Prairie Signature focuses on distributing shelf-stable meat products made from the same bison raised by its parent company.

Interestingly, North Prairie Signature uses the word "bison" instead of the word "buffalo" which most jerky makers use. The proper word is, of course, bison. "Buffalo" is a species that never actually existed in North America.

In addition to offering bison jerky, North Prairie Signature offer summer sausage, salami, and meat sticks, all made from bison.


Bison, water, salt, sugar, spices.


The tastes I pick up from the surface of these pieces is a moderate salty flavor, and a meaty aroma. In the chewing, I taste a bit more saltiness, and some natural meat flavors. Over time, a black pepper taste builds up.

My initial thoughts on this is that there's quite a lot of flavor packed into these pieces, despite the short and simple list of ingredients. I'm getting quite a bit of saltiness building up over the first few pieces, and the black pepper aftertaste gets stronger and stronger.

I think however that black pepper aftertaste makes the saltiness seem more intense than it actually is. But still, sucking on a piece results in a lot of salty flavor. I'd consider this jerky to be on the higher side of saltiness, but still not quite "too salty" for my preference.

Overall, the natural meat flavors seem to provide the dominant taste of this jerky from start to finish. It's just strong enough to notice and enjoy. It's often said that bison tastes very similar to beef, however this bison jerky seems to have a flavor that's clearly distinguishable from beef. I'm thinking that of all the bison/buffalo jerky I've had, this one from North Prairie Signature gives off the most distinguishable flavor. It's hard for me to describe, but if you can envision something halfway between beef and venison, that's probably close.

The saltiness seems to be the second strongest flavor, with the black pepper having the third-strongest flavor.

I can also get a good taste of garlic, maybe even onion, mostly as an aftertaste.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced to an average thickness, and in small to medium sized pieces.

This is a dry jerky, but one that still retains a lot of flexibility. It's moderately easy to tear apart if torn with the grain. Tearing apart against the grain is only moderately easy if you clamp down with your teeth and pull apart. Chewing is much more easier overall.

The chewing texture has a meaty, fibrous quality much like eating a steak cooked well done. There's a little bit of rubber-like resistance to chewing in the first few chews, but it breaks down pretty well after that, and feels pretty much like meat.

One point worth noting that about 5-10 minutes of opening this package, a white powder-like residue is visible on these pieces. And about 60 minutes later, the pieces are completely covered in it. My best guess is that these are salt deposits as the oils recede back into the pieces. This jerky vacuum-packed, and I think the vacuum has drawn the oils up to the surface, thus when the package is opened the vacuum pressure is released and oils sink back in, depositing salt on the surface.

That's my guess, maybe someone else has a better explanation.

Originally, my fingers picked up a fine oily film pulling these pieces out of the package. But since then, that white residue has rendered the surface dry enough that my fingers remain dry. It's now pretty clean eating, with no meat fragments falling onto my lap or desk.

I don't really find any pieces of fat on this jerky, and no pieces of tendon or gristle. I don't really get any unchewable wads of tissue remaining in my mouth. It all seems very lean.

Snack Value

North Prairie Signature sells this original bison jerky from its website at a price of $3.75 for a 1.5oz package. The pricing on their website looks as if you need to buy it in quantities of 18, but in the shopping cart you're able to just buy one package if you want. Still, to ship out to Southern California, which is where I'm located, there's a $12.65 fee. That works out to a total of $16.40 for a single 1.5 ounce package, or $10.33 per ounce.

Suffice to say, you need to buy several packages to get any value from this. So if you bought a quantity of 18 packages, it would work out to a total of $67.50, plus shipping at $14.28, for a grand total of $81.78. That's $3.03 per ounce. Still "very expensive".

The company does offer wholesale pricing at $2.65 per package. At 18 packages, with the $14.28 shipping, that all works out to a per ounce price of $2.30. I'd put that into just an "expensive" price range.

For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $3.03 ounce price, it's a weak value. If all I wanted was some jerky to snack on, I'll get a good deal of snackability from this, mostly for its unique bison meat flavor, and good chewing texture. But at a $3.03 price, I don't think I can get enough snackability to justify that price.

But as a bison jerky, at the same $3.03 per ounce price, it's a decent value. That is, if I specifically wanted a bison jerky, then I what I'd want is something that offered the unique flavor of bison, and this jerky does seem to give out that quality. Because of the higher price, this won't be a jerky you'll snack on everyday, but maybe something you want to pull out when you're in the mood for something unique.


I'm giving this a good rating.

I found this original variety from North Prairie Signature to be very snackable, mostly for its natural meat flavors. It's flavor is quite different from the other buffalo/bison jerky brands I've had in that it's much more distinguishable from beef. Whereas with the other brands I couldn't tell the difference between bison and beef, this jerky clearly has a different taste than beef.

To me that made this jerky above average. But in determining if this deserved a "best" rating, I found myself debating. But I opted to side with a "good" rating because I felt the seasonings were too intense in a jerky that has a great natural meat flavor. That is, this jerky is not trying to win over taste tests with its blend of seasonings, considering it's a pretty simple recipe of salt, black pepper, and garlic. Rather, it's trying to emphasize its natural meat flavors, but has the salt and black pepper competing against it.

If this was a black peppered variety, or a salt & pepper variety, then I'd expect a lot of these flavors.

But then again, I'm just nit-picking. It's very good jerky, and I'd recommend it just to taste the unique bison meat flavor.

For my beer pairing, I'd wash this down with a creamy smooth stout.

Rating: Good

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