Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jeff's Famous Jerky - Habanero Heatwave

jeffs famous jerky
The newest flavor from Jeff's Famous Jerky is this Habanero Heatwave. Marketed with phrases like, "Extra hot & spicy", and "Serious heat... and packed with flavor", it's thus far the strongest contender in tongue-burning category, at least within the company.

Since I first reviewed Jeff's Famous Jerky in May 2010, the brand has expanded into 22 states with Hawaii coming soon. They're also celebrating their 2nd anniversary this May with a "Free Jerky for a Year Giveaway", the winner gets three bags of jerky every month for a year. More details here.

And if you don't win, you can always get in on Jeff's, "Jerky Every Month Club", for $24.95 a month, where you get four bags per month, shipping included.


Beef, brown sugar, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, chili sauce, balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, habanero powder, caynenne pepper, liquid smoke, spices.


The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a light sweetness, followed by some seasoning, and then a light chile pepper flavor. The burn starts slow and increases gradually. I can also pick up a light tanginess.

The chewing flavor starts with a slightly increased sweetness, followed by more of a chile sauce flavor. I can pick up some of the vinegar ingredients, while the light tanginess continues. There's also a faint natural meat flavor.

For being labeled, "Habanero Heatwave", it seems to hold up somewhat. I don't taste any of the signature habanero chile flavors, but I do pick up some general chile pepper flavors initially, which then progresses into a chile sauce flavor. The level of heat doesn't exactly reflect the intense burn that habanero peppers are famous for. I'd rank it as "medium hot" on my personal heat scale. But overall, if you enjoy decent burn on the tongue, a little bit of sweat breaking on the forehead, and fair amount of chile flavors, this seems to do well.

Otherwise, the flavors that seem to define this jerky overall is a fair amount of sweetness, a chile sauce/pepper, a light vinegar, and some tanginess. There's some seasoning flavors sitting towards the back that tend to come out later in the chewing, mostly as garlic. I can also pick some traces of natural meat flavor, particular towards the latter part of chewing.

The level of saltiness in this feels to be moderate, despite the low sodium content.

Overall, it's quite what I've come to expect from Jeff's Famous Jerky, brimming with flavor, and well rounded with the sweet, heat, tangy, salty, and savory.

Meat Consistency

These are slices of whole meat, sliced into strips of medium thickness, and in lengths of about four to five inches.

This is a semi-moist jerky with a semi-moist surface feel. The strips feel very pliable, quite tender and soft and are very flexible.

The chewing texture starts out feeling tender, soft, and moist. There's no chewing resistance. It chews down to a soft mass quite easily. At that point, it feels like chewing real meat, similar to a well-marbleized piece of rib-eye cooked medium.

I don't see any pieces of fat or gristle on these strips, but there's some visible stringiness which reduces down to a small wad of unchewable tissue.

As for clean eating, my fingertips picks up a light film of stickiness, but not enough to warrant a licking or wiping before touching the keyboard.

habanero beef jerky

habanero beef jerky

Snack Value

Jeff's Famous Jerky sells this Habanero Heatwave from its website at a price of $39.95 for six 3oz packages. With shipping of $6.50 to Southern California, that comes to a price of $2.58 per ounce.

For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.58 per ounce price, it's a good value. I'm getting an excellent flavor with a good meat consistency and a soft, moist, steak-like chewing texture. Compared to major brands of jerky sold in grocery stores, it's considerably higher priced, but I'm getting far more snackability.

As a habanero jerky, at the same $2.58 per ounce price, it's a fair value. I don't really pick up any of the distinctive habanero flavors, and it's not quite as hot as I would expect from something labeled, "Habanero Heatwave", but it still packs some good chile pepper and chile sauce flavors, and it still produces a good deal of heat.


I'm giving this a best rating.

This Habanero Heatwave variety from Jeff's Famous Jerky packs a lot of intense flavor, just as the package states. It's a well-rounded flavor where I can easily pick up the sweet, the heat, the salty, the savory, and some tanginess. It has a nice chile pepper sauce flavor in the chewing, bolstered with a light touch of vinegar. There's even a little bit of the natural meat flavors noticeable towards the latter part of chewing. It's a nice variety of flavors with the volume control turned way up.

I didn't feel that this represented the "Habanero Heatwave" namesake that well. I don't taste the signature habanero chile flavor, and it's not quite as hot as I'd expect a habanero food product to be. Albeit, I've enjoyed many habanero sauces in my time, and have built up a good tolerance for the heat, I think this could stand to be hotter, considering the only people likely to buy something labeled, "Extra hot & spicy", are hot food fanatics. However, I'm still able to pick up some chile pepper flavors of some kind, perhaps from the cayenne and chili sauce ingredients, and it's still packs a enough heat to make it enjoyable for chile-heads, and enough to produce a beading of sweat of my scalp.

And the meat consistency is remarkable, being quite tender, soft and semi-moist, producing bursts of flavors with each chew. It's soft and tender enough, you could slap these strips of meat between two pieces of bread and have a jerky sandwich. It's like strips of roasted, marinated beef brisket from a bag.

My recommended beer pairing for this, go with something lighter flavored, and refreshing to counter the heat, try a St. Peter's Cream Ale or a Hale's Cream Ale.

Rating: Best

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1 comment:

  1. I recently had the opportunity to sample Jeff's Famous Jerkys new Habanero Heatwave. This stuff is incredible. I am a chili head and this stuff delivers. It tastes of fresh habeneros with a great natural beef flavor. I got none of the chili sauce flavor that he is talking about. Just fresh habenero. The heat on this is a perfect level. Not overbearing and too powerful, but hot enough to break a sweat. Perfect for anyone to enjoy. A little sweet, hot, meaty. I couldn't ask for a better beef jerky