I’ve been in a jerky frame of mind lately. Since doing my first jerky review on spicy jerky, I’ve totally been jonesing for it. So, it was sheer fortune and happenstance that I happen to get an email from Janie from the House of Jerky asking if I wanted to review their spicy beef jerky. Looking at their website, it was obvious that these folks really know jerky. After seeing the package arrive on my doorstep, I greedily tore into it to see what goodies laid within. I was then staring at three 4-ounce packages (which seemed kinda big to me) of jerky…one each of Hot, Sweet & Spicy, and Black Pepper.
One thing I noticed right off the bat was the ingredients. Unlike some commercially-made jerky, the HOJ products are made with nothing artificial in them. No preservatives. No MSG. Nothing questionable I could see, anyway. A tremendous gold star for them before I even tasted a bite.
On to the tasting notes…
Hot Beef Jerky: beef (top round), soy sauce (water, wheat, soybeans, salt), brown sugar, honey pineapple juice, water, Tabasco sauce (vinegar, red pepper, salt), habanero pepper, red crushed chili pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, liquid smoke, black pepper, white pepper, ginger powder
Taste: Of course I tore into the bag of Hot jerky first. I was warned ahead of time that this wasn’t scorchingly hot, but I was pleased with its moderate heat level. Courtesy of Tabasco sauce and some habanero pepper, the heat is about a 6/10 and very manageable. Pleasantly moist by jerky standards, the pieces tore easily and were not too sticky. Peppery, hot, and delightful…I relished snacking on this jerky and was truly sad when I had gobbled the last bit of it out of the bag. Proof positive that hot doesn’t have to be scorching to be pretty damn good. A winner.
Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky: beef (top round), water, brown sugar, honey, seasonings (salt, sugar, garlic, black pepper), soy sauce (water, wheat, soybeans, salt), pineapple juice, Tabasco sauce (vinegar, red pepper, salt), cayenne pepper, liquid smoke, black pepper, garlic powder, white pepper
Taste: I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this one surprised me. When I see the words “sweet & spicy” on most products, the sweet usually dominates over whatever the spiciness might be. Not so with this jerky! This one has some spicy schwerve to it, being about a 4.5/10 on the heat scale. About as moist as the Hot jerky but slightly more sticky, this one might very well have you licking your fingers as you eat it. Not being overly sweet is a good thing, and makes this a more user-friendly snack for me. I would actually recommend this over the Hot version to most people so they can test the mettle of their heat capacity on this flavor before moving on to the hotter one. I’m quite fond of this one as well, and like the mixture of flavors. Thumbs up!
Black Pepper Beef Jerky: beef (top round), soy sauce (water, wheat, soybeans, salt), water, pineapple, liquid smoke, black pepper, garlic powder
Taste: This seems to be their basic jerky which has some of the same components of the others, but “less is not more” for this jerky. It tasted a little dry and shreds a little too much as I pulled small pieces from the bag. I liked the pepper taste quite a bit, but it’s the weakest of the three flavors I tried.
On a separate very interesting note, this jerky was the runaway surprise of the three in a different way. My sons, ages 4 and 1, typically shun anything made of meat. Both of them thought this jerky was the best snack EVER and munched it down in short order. Even my one year-old made yummy noises while eating it! If the House of Jerky can make meat that my kids will eat, I might very well need to keep this variety around for a little protein-loading for the kiddies.
Overall recommendation: Beef jerky is good eatin’, and the folks at the House of Jerky do it the way it should be done. Flavorful, tender, and made with quality ingredients, I would have no problem reaching for any of these when I have a yen for beef jerky. The spicy ones are certainly hot enough for me, although I always hope they make a nuclear-hot one at some point. If beef isn’t your thang and you want to try something more exotic, you could always go for the ostrich, turkey, venison, or buffalo jerky…which all sound pretty good as well. It’s also quite heartening to see that they support our troops by offering a discount to soldiers who order, as well as providing a way for anyone to order jerky for those already serving in the military right now. As ones who support such noble causes, we here at the HZOB salute you. Keep up the good work!