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Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > Bridgford - Sweet Baby Rays Beef Jerky > Test Report by Ray Estrella

Bridgford Sweet Baby Ray's Beef Jerky
Test Series by Raymond Estrella
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - September 21, 2012
LONG TERM REPORT - February 07, 2013

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 52
LOCATION: North Western Minnesota, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 225 lb (102.00 kg)

I've been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, Minnesota, and many western states. I hike year-round in all weather, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I make a point of using lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. Doubting I can ever be truly ultralight, I try to be as light as I can yet still be comfortable. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring/chilling. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot evening meals. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or my twin children.


INITIAL REPORT

The Product

Manufacturer: Bridgford Food Corporation
Web site: www.bridgford.com
Product: Sweet Baby Ray's Original and Honey Chipotle Beef Jerky
Year received: 2012
MSRP: US $22.14 for 6-pack
Weight listed (product): 3 oz (85 g)
Actual weight in package: between 3.46 & 3.56 oz (98 & 101 grams)
Packed size: 6.75 x 8.75 in (17 x 22 cm)

Product Description

Sweet Baby Ray's Original
Courtesy Bridgford Food Corp.


Sweet Baby Ray's Original Beef Jerky

Ingredients: Beef, Water, Seasoning Blend (salt, Brown Sugar, Sugar, Mustard, Monosodium Glutamate, Dehydrated Garlic, Red Pepper, Sodium Erythorbate, Onion Powder, Spice Extractive), Brown Sugar, Sweet Baby Ray's Jerky Base (vinegar Powder [dextrin, Modified Food Starch, Vinegar Solids], Tomato Powder, Pineapple Juice Powder [maltodextrin, Pineapple Juice], Worcestershire Sauce Powder [{distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Salt, Caramel Color, Garlic Powder, Sugar, Spices, Tamarind, Natural Flavor And Sulfiting Agents}, Maltodextrin], Natural Smoke Flavor, Spices And Not More Than 2% Silicon Dioxide Added To Prevent Caking), Sodium Nitrite.

And Honey Chipotle too
Courtesy Bridgford Food Corp.


Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Chipotle Beef Jerky

Ingredients Beef, Water, Brown Sugar, Seasoning Blend (salt, Brown Sugar, Sugar, Mustard, Monosodium Glutamate, Dehydrated Garlic, Red Pepper, Sodium Erythorbate, Onion Powder, Spice Extractive), Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Chipotle Jerky Base (honey Powder [maltodextrin And Honey], Vinegar Powder [dextrin, Modified Food Starch, Vinegar Solids], Tomato Powder, Chipotle Powder, Natural Smoke Flavor, Pineapple Juice Powder [maltodextrin, Pineapple Juice], Worcestershire Sauce Powder [{distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Salt, Caramel Color, Garlic Powder, Sugar, Spices, Tamarind, Natural Flavor And Sulfiting Agents}, Maltodextrin], Spices, Grill Flavor [from Vegetable Oil], And Not More Than 2% Silicon Dioxide Added To Prevent Caking), Ground Black Pepper, Sodium Nitrite.

Bridgford Food Corporation's Baby Ray's Original, and Honey Chipotle Beef Jerky (hereafter called Baby Ray's or the jerky) is a "gourmet" step up on the company's normal Beef Jerky line.

The gourmet part comes from the flavoring provided by Sweet Baby Ray's brand of gourmet sauces. Sweet Baby Ray's is a very popular sauce made in Chicago, but not available where I live now in Minnesota. Funny thing, while I was just in California at my Dad's place they made Sweet Baby Ray's Original ribs for dinner earlier this week. Good stuff.

The jerky is made from whole cuts of beef, not chopped and formed like I make in my dehydrator. It is somewhat soft and pliable, not rock-hard.

There is a bit of discrepancy on the nutritional labeling between the two flavors. Both have a serving size as 1 oz (28 g) with it coming in at 90 calories, 10 calories of which come from fat for both. They both show sugar carbs coming in at 6 g yet total carbs for the Honey Chipotle is 7 g while the Original's total carbs remain at 6 g. The Original has 11 g of protein while the Honey Chipotle is only 10 g. That tells me that somewhere in each ounce (28 g) of Honey Chipotle there is 2.3 g (0.08 oz) by weight of non-sugar (complex) carbohydrates. I don't see any chipotle pepper (smoked jalapenos) flesh or seeds to account for it. One interesting thing is the vitamin C contribution of the Honey Chipotle that comes in at 2% of the Daily Values as jalapenos are chock-full of the stuff.

The packages of jerky all have expiration dates showing almost 1.5 years of shelf-life and are suggested to be eaten within seven days of opening. Unlike some of my local jerkys the Sweet Baby Ray's does not need to be refrigerated after opening. This makes it easy to take hiking by just placing the amount needed in a small zip-locking bag, but I will most likely put it into small Food Saver bags to make it last even longer, plus take less space.

Now it is time for this rotten old Ray to get the Sweet Baby Ray's beef jerky on the trail where I will be eating it by itself, along with other foods, and even as an additional ingredient to packaged meals. Please come back in a few months to see how it all worked out.

LONG-TERM REPORT

Field Data

I have been eating my way through the 12 packages of Sweet Baby Ray's beef jerky all fall and winter.

The first of two backpacking trips this fall saw me at the canoeist primitive campsite on the Red River outside Hendrum, Minnesota as it had been raining for the previous 2-1/2 days and I wanted to put a tent through some weather torture. Well besides being a muddy mess it did not rain at all until the morning when I had to pack up. Thank you Mother Nature. The low that night was 40 F (4 C.

For my last trip of the fall I went out to my friend's property north of Halstad, Minnesota. While I normally like to stay in the woods it was just too mucky (my shoes weighed a ton!) so I ended up by the Red River on some flattened prairie grass. I went chasing weather again because the forecast was rain, turning to snow and low temps. It did hit a low of 26 F (-3 C). It was raining as I headed out but stopped before I made camp. There was intermittent rain all night, but it did not turn to snow as the precip stopped before the temps dropped.

Once the ground froze and winter set in I fired the hiking back up again taking seven backpacking trips. Five were on the Red River either on the Halstad property or north of town, one was on the North Country Trail by the Anoway River in Chippewa National Forest and the last on the North Country Trail in Paul Bunyan State Forest. These trips were cold with lows averaging around 0 F (18 C). The trip on the Anoway River saw -22 F (-30 C). The picture below is from that trip. One bag of the jerky is on the table and another is in the back of the Grub Sack.

Meal time


I also took it for lunches on a few day hikes, all around my area of Moorhead, Minnesota.

Observations

I have liked beef jerky my entire life. Well since I can remember my dad giving me my first taste when I was about seven at least. I buy a lot of it from stores and custom meat shops and even make my own. Both flavors of the Sweet Baby Ray's beef jerky are very good.

The Sweet Baby Ray's Original has a sweet smoky taste that I like better than Bridgford's original beef jerky. In fact it is as good or better than most jerky I have ever tried, including custom jerky.

But the Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Chipotle is hands down the best jerky I have ever eaten. During the test my Moist meatdaughter, who is as big a fan of jerky as I am, asked if we had any jerky to snack on at home. While I had a couple packages of another brand I asked her if she wanted to try the Sweet Baby Ray's and asked her to pick a flavor. She chose the Honey Chipotle and too was blown away by it. We polished off the entire pack while watching a movie and she decided that it is now her favorite flavor. We were happy to see that the Walmart in our town just started carrying it so we can get more now that this test is over.

All of the jerky has been moist and easy to chew with the exception of one package. It was the Honey Chipotle flavor and there were three pieces in the package that were as hard as old leather. And the weird thing was they tasted like regular flavor, not the spicy Honey Chipotle. But besides that I have found the Sweet Baby Ray's to be exceptionally moist. In fact the amount of moisture (much of it oils I will guess) can be seen in this picture. I rarely took the entire package with me on backpacking trips, preferring to repackage into small Food Saver bags I make up. This is a one ounce (32 g) portion that I pulled out to eat one afternoon while waiting out a rainstorm. I had packaged it the day before leaving on the hike and the vacuum pressure pulled a lot of the moisture out of the jerky. It did not affect the taste as I happily munched away as seen below.

Snacking in rain


Once the temps dropped I stopped repackaging into Food Saver bags and just used small zip-locking bags.

Because I had so much to eat I also used the jerky to add calories and protein to meatless freeze dried entrees. For this use I would chop the jerky up at home and add it at the same time the hot water goes into the meal. I used the Honey Chipotle for all Mexican meals and the Original for American or Italian meals. It worked very well adding both flavor and texture to the meals. Here is a shot of the jerky being readied for dinner time.

Adding to meal


That is about all I can say about this fine jerky. I think that Bridgford has a real winner here and I know that my daughter and I will be buying it in the future. I would like to thank them and BackpackGearTest.org for letting me participate in this flavorful test. I leave with a shot of some jerky in my Grub Sack at another campsite.

In Grub Sack

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

Read more reviews of Bridgford Foods gear
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Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > Bridgford - Sweet Baby Rays Beef Jerky > Test Report by Ray Estrella



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