The first review for Topanga’s Finest will focus on a 1.5 ounce/42 gram bag of their Original Gourmet flavored beef jerky. This flavor was originally developed 30+ years ago. The bag was kindly submitted for review by the owner, Naomi Benghiat.
This Topanga’s Finest brand name is distributed by Topanga’s Finest. They are located in Woodland Hills, California, and this jerky brand was launched in May 2013. The brand is named after the nearby Topanga’s State Park, which includes Topanga’s Canyon. It all started with Naomi buying a certain brand of jerky from a local liquor store, but one day the store disappeared. She then bought a dehydrator, and her jerky eventually became a hit with family and friends as she tweaked her recipes. Their jerky is advertised to be all natural, and gluten-free for people afflicted with Celiac Disease.
Ingredients: Beef, Gluten Free Soy Sauce (Water, Soybeans, Rice, Salt), Light Vanilla Karo Syrup (Corn Syrup, Salt, Vanilla), Liquid Smoke, Garlic, Red Pepper, Cayenne, White Pepper, Black Pepper. Allergen Warnings: Soy
The cattle used are confirmed to have about 85% free range access to graze on grass, and roam about. Based on the information provided from the fine folks at Harris Ranch, the cattle qualify enough to be ethically raised. As a result, the highest ingredient rating that can be awarded is a Very Good (9/10) rating.
The liquid marinade is comprised of a good gluten free soy sauce, a not so good light vanilla Karo syrup, and liquid smoke. It is disappointing to see that the cheap processed sweetener corn syrup is used as the main ingredient in the light vanilla Karo syrup.
Using fresh garlic is great, which many people consider to be a superfood. There are multiple healthy spices used such as red pepper, cayenne pepper, white pepper, and black pepper. Vanilla is full of essential oils, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.
The sugar level is respectable at 2 grams of sugar per 28 grams of jerky. However, the salt level is high at 460mg of salt per 28 grams of jerky. Our preference is 350mg of salt or less.
This jerky does qualify to have no sodium nitrite, or any other similar unhealthy preservatives. Instead, the main preservative used is salt. Admirably, there is no MSG added.
Very Good (9/10) – Ingredient Rating
These strips of jerky are mainly medium in size, and sliced to a medium thickness. There is a fairly dry texture, which is relatively easy to chew. There are no signs of fat, and handling this jerky leaves a little bit of oily residue on your fingers.
You soon realize that this is an original based flavor, where the natural beef flavor stands out the most. The soy is at a mild level, and the black pepper is at a light level. Garlic is always a welcome addition.
While unusual, and inconspicuous, there is a vanilla taste if you look for it, which surprisingly works for beef. As a bonus, there is a slight kick to this flavor. On a heat scale, it would be a 2 out of 5 at most. The only slight complaint is that the jerky is a bit too salty. Otherwise, this is a very enjoyable snack.
A 3 ounce/85 gram bag sell online for $8.00. That works out to $2.67 an ounce, which rates as a moderately expensive price. This flavor is certainly recommended from taste and ingredient perspectives to anybody who enjoys the taste of beef.
Very Good (9/10) – Taste Rating
This plastic bag has a label on the front, and nothing on the back. The bag features a photograph of the Topanga’s Canyon in the background, where credit for the photo is given to Wasim Muklashy.
Their slogan is “Try the original flavor of California!” Some facts printed on this bag are “Low in Fat”, “No Preservatives”, “Free Flosser Inside”, “Gluten Free”, “Made in the USA”, and “Natural Smoke Flavor Added”. Yes, it’s true, each bag of jerky comes with its own dental flosser.
The only bag categories missing are the jerky weight not stated in grams, and there is no blurb printed about this jerky or flavor.
Order their jerky online: www.topangasfinest.com
Leave a Comment