Tofurky arrives in the UK - a taste test and review

Moorgate during the day is a whirl of city workers, suit-clad people off to squeak more money out of the global capital markets. It's not a place I often end up, but work sends me in that direction, I make sure to stop by the Holland and Barrett that's behind the station. You never know what you might find.

In my last visit, for example, I saw Tofurky. If you're in the US, finding Tofurky on the shelves of your local health food store probably isn't very exciting, but here in the UK, it's kind of a new thing.
I don't think I've ever seen Tofurky over here, except at Christmas in a Whole Foods branch when I tried to buy a Tofurky roast, but subsequently had to carry it back to the freezer from whence it came, spluttering in parsimonious embarrassment at the £30-or-so price tag.

A few days later, I found an article on The Grocer that explains the sudden Tofurky surge: according to the publication, the deli slices and tempeh are being rolled out to Holland and Barrett branches across the country.

Having picked up some Tofurky turkey slices, a couple of days later I found the ham on sale in Whole Foods. (Has is always been there, or have I been walking around with Tofurky blinders on all my life?) On a crazed Tofurky binge, I took some ham home too. Hot tip: deli slices are 14p cheaper in Holland and Barrett.

Apparently, Tofurky was invented in 1995. For me, though, it might as well have been yesterday – 2015 was the year I had my first taste of Tofurky.

First, I tried the ham. It was…. what's the word I'm look for?..... nasty.

It was so strongly flavoured it was like someone was punching me in the palette, over and over again. And not in a good way.

I tried it in sandwiches, adding a couple of strips to sauces or scrambles, anything I could think of. The acrid smoked taste penetrated everything like having a small bonfire in the back of your throat.

I approached the hickory Tofurky slices with trepidation. Could a company that would inflict the smoked ham style deli slices on the world come up with something genuinely tasty?

Yes, yes they could. A bite or two of a hickory deli slice convinced me of Tofurky's deserved position as patron saint of meat analogue slices. The hickory was everything the ham was not: comforting, mildly alkaline, and actually pleasant to eat.

So, one winner, one loser in my first Tofurky taste test. I liked the hickory enough to give more Tofurky products a go. Now, where's that Holland and Barrett again?

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  1. I feel silly writing this now, but I saw Tofurky in the Piccadilly Whole Foods a few weeks ago, and was interested but not too excited as I didn't think I'd like it. I suspect if I'd known it was new I would have tried it because I'm foolish that way :P I'm glad to know the ham flavour is worth avoiding though.

  2. I've never tried the ham and I certainly won't now! I go on hickory binges and then droughts. Nice option for when you don't feel like cooking!

  3. Thanks for the review. I've not tried the ham but liked the other one. I was lucky enough to try the roast a few years ago when I was in Canada for Thanksgiving. It even came with a wishbone!

  4. I'm glad the turkey slices turned out to be nice! I have only had one Tofurkey experience, when my vegetarian family bought a whole Tofurkey for Thanksgiving one year ages ago (probably around 2003). It was horrific, like a big pile of tasteless rubber. And we had masses of it and had no clue what to do with it! So don't feel bad about your Whole Foods experience! Although hopefully they've improved it in the intervening years.

  5. I don't think I have tried tofurkey products that I have purchased except some sausages at a bbq - which were very good - but I find sausages usually work better as mock meat than many others - so good to hear your feedback on it

  6. I like the hickory flavor too, never tried the ham though... I guess I won't now. ;-)

    1. I really the ham ones. You should try them yourself before taking someone else's opinion as fact 😀


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