Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Trader Joe's Natural Turkey Summer Sausage

Sometimes, such as when I commented to my dad during the Super Bowl halftime that at least Coldplay was better than getting camera-slide-humped by Bruce Springsteen right before the montage started of years past and this clip played, my timing is impeccable. As referenced recently,I like the Boss and all, just, um, not like in that way.

Other times, my timing is off. Way off.

How else can I explain reviewing Trader Joe's Natural Turkey Summer Sausage right now? First, it's still winter, and there's a big ol' storm dumping inches of the powdery white death over a lot of the Eastern seaboard...Pittsburgh mostly spared yet again. Second, it's Ash Wednesday, so if you're Catholic, or like me, respectful of Catholic tradition for somewhat vague reasons, you aren't supposed to eat meat today...so here's a meat review. Right.

Anyways, on the spectrum of quality shelf stable meat consumables, summer sausage to me is a solid midpoint between the high (good beef jerky) and the low (Spam). It's not a perfectly optimal form of protein intake, but for a snack with cheese and crackers here, a hike-worthy munchable there, sure.

Narrowing down the scale even further, I think this turkeyfied take on the summer sausage stage is also fairly middlin'. It tastes just about right - definitely some good black pepper bite, good garlic, some bonus sweetness presumably from the cherry powder - but perhaps just a small step too potent. Really, if you're familiar with the cracked pepper beef and pork stick that TJ's offers, this has a fairly close flavor profile. What's different, though, is the texture. It's...not sure of the proper word. Softer? Yes. Mushier? Not quite right...but sort of. And not exactly grainy or anything, but there's a totally different bite to it, which is to be expected from a different meat. So with all the health tradeoffs of a leaner meat, to me, there is a small price to pay for the texture.

And now here is a potential controversial point here: the casing. To eat or not to eat? As a homage to my middle kid upbringing, I have a foot in both camps. Sometimes, I do, and sometimes, I do not. It depends almost entirely on my motivation and the relative ease in removing said casing. If you are in the "do not eat the casing" party, bad news: At least on my log, the casing is particularly difficult to remove. It seems extra stuck on. Now, I was able to remove it, eventually, but have tried some both ways, and I don't think the product greatly benefits or suffers from it. But in a likely cringe worthy moment, I tried some casing just by itself. Not advised.

Regardless, I'd say the TJ turkey summer sausage works. Not great, not bad, but it'll do, and not much else. Sandy tried some and kinda shrugged her shoulders, as did I. Not terrible for the $3ish bucks (I think). Just might do it for you whenever the time is right.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Natural Turkey Summer Sausage: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. Do you know if it nitrite/ nitrate free? Those preservatives are used in alot of meat products and are now considered to be possible carcinogens I try to avoid them.

    1. Yup, no nitrites/nitrates. The full ingredient list is right in the product photo above with the nutritional info.

    2. Thanks, sir. Also says so on the front label, but tough to see from the pic I took. It does state "other than the ones naturally occuring in celery salt" or something to that effect. Seems like TJ's seems to avoid those in most meat products :)

    3. Thanks Steven & Russ. My laptop is on the fritz and I couldn't enlarge it enough on my smartphone to see

  2. It might be good slightly fried. Crisp it up. Maybe taste will be better when cooked.

    1. Alek-sounds like that would make a great sandwich with some cheese

    2. Panini sandwich would be ideal. Crisp up and makes a ideal solution for omelets

    3. Alek, once again, you made me rather hungry :)

  3. Are you familiar with the Hickory Farms brand? Would you say that this summer sausage is better or worse than that?