What’s Your Beef (jerky)?

By Peter Covino

A&E Editor

If you have got some really good beef jerky, well, you’ve got nothing to beef about.

Good beef jerky is in abundance at the Beef Jerky Experience. One of the newest shops at the Florida Mall, the beef jerky outlet must feature close to 100 different varieties of beef jerky, plus various other sausage type products.

But it is mostly about the jerky. And it isn’t all traditional beef. This large shop is also nicely stocked with  bison, kangaroo, alligator, venison and elk.

This is the second beef jerky outlet store opened by Teri Corbett and husband Frank Murru in the Orlando area, and just like the name says, it is an experience.

If you are a fan of beef jerky, it is a nice way to spend part of your day, especially if you are already at Florida Mall.

Tasting is encouraged and throughout the store there are barrels featuring some tasty jerky treats, broken down into various categories like hot, spicy and even a Bootleg category featuring memorable flavors like Bloody Mary Beef, Fireball Beef and Jamaican Rum Beef.

Corbett said the shop recently had a restaurant chef come in and buy a large quantity of the Bloody Mary Beef and used it for an event he was in charge of. Corbett said that beef flavor makes a nice addition, to what else, a Bloody Mary cocktail.

Fortunately, you can try them all and try to settle on a favorite. Corbett said the prime rib is the most popular.

All of the beef jerky found is the shop is going to be more tender and fresher than what you will probably find at the neighborhood grocery store, mostly because of the quick turnover.

“We get new orders about every two weeks,” she said.

With all of those varieties to choose from, it seems like prime rib would be kind of boring, especially with so many spicier and hotter types to choose from. The hot varieties of jerky available include  Jalepeno Beef, Fire, The Reaper, Blazin’ Smoked Beef, Blazin’ Cajun Beef and Crawfish with Slap Ya Mamma Beef.

I sampled a few of the hot varieties and didn’t find them overly hot.

While beef jerky and the explosion of various kinds of jerky has seen a dramatic upswing in recent years, the meat product has been around for centuries.

The word jerky has its origins in the native languages of South America. In the 1800s, the term “jerky” quickly spread across the new world to describe the process of smoking, drying and curing beef. American Indians, cowboys and pioneers made and embraced jerky as an easily transportable and long lasting food source. Jerky has traditionally been the No. 1 favorite snack of the military, and for years, NASA has sent it up to our astronauts in space.

Beef jerky also can fit in almost anyone’s diet, Corbett said, since it is lean meat that is high in protein and nutritional value and low in calories carbohydrates and fat. Jerky is only 3 percent fat.

The couple also operate a second location at Waterford Lakes Town Center and are looking for a third location in the Orlando area she said.

In addition to  all that jerky (which are all U.S. made and distributed by the parent company) there also is a wide variety jellies, jams, sauces, gourmet chocolates and popcorns.

Make sure you at least look at the edible insects including crickets. There also are worms. The worm snacks come in cheddar cheese flavor, if that makes it a bit more appealing. The crickets are bacon and cheese flavor. Well, you know what they say about bacon.

There is no sampling area for the crickets and worms, which might be a good thing, but you can sample up to 38 different jerky products with their try-before-you-buy policy.

All beef jerky is sold bagged in four different sizes: $9.99 for four ounces; $17.99 for eight ounces; $32.99 for 16 ounces and $64.99 for 32 ounces.

There usually are weekly specials and most jerky varieties are gluten free.

“The addition of the Beef Jerky Experience complements our unique mix of experiential retailers at The Florida Mall,” said Brian Hanson, general manager at The Florida Mall.  “We look forward to sharing this new interactive tasting adventure with our local community and tourists alike.”

The new store is located in an 1,800 square-foot space near Dick’s Sporting Goods and The Crayola Experience. 

About The Beef Jerky Outlet

The Beef Jerky Outlet (Beef Jerky Experience) was founded in 2010 and is the country’s first national jerky

franchise. There are currently 65 franchise locations, including 6 founder-owned stores. Over the next 18 months, this number will grow to more than 100 locations across the U.S.

About The Florida Mall

The Florida Mall is Central Florida’s largest shopping center. Spanning 1.7 million square feet and welcoming more than 20 million visitors annually, this shopping destination offers an experiential environment featuring more than 250 retail, dining and entertainment options enjoyed by domestic and international guests, local residents and families alike. Prominent department and anchor stores Macy’s, Dillard’s, JCPenney and Dick’s Sporting Goods complement best of brand retailers like A/X Armani Exchange, Apple, Banana Republic, Coach, H&M, MAC Cosmetics, Michael Kors, Mayors Jewelers featuring Rolex, Victoria’s Secret and ZARA.

The Florida Mall is open Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 8  p.m. For additional information, contact the mall shopping line at (407) 851-6255 or visit www.shopfloridamall.com.