I can’t think of any more important reason than food storage to take time to study out the brands you plan to buy (ahead of buying in bulk), making sure you’re buying the best tasting ingredients you can. Even if you already have some favorite brands, you might give some of these ones a try to see if you like them even better! In this post I’ve looked at:
Lite Coconut Milk/ Regular Coconut Milk
Canned Tomatoes (diced and whole)
Canned Crab Meat
Jarred Pasta Sauce
If there’s one product that makes me feel dizzy as I try to make a decision on it it’s this one. Extra Virgin, cold pressed, from Italy, from Spain, from California, peppery, fruity…ugh. I just want it to work well in my recipes and taste good. Make it easy on me, will you?
Trader Joe’s Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil came in as best “bang for your buck” on a Serious Eats taste test. There are some different TJ varieties to choose from; be sure to look specifically for this one. Additionally, DaVinci Extra Virgin Olive Oil was a Cook’s Illustrated (CI) top choice, and once again, it fits my budget. There are others recommended in the tests I found, but these were the most affordable/ easy to shop for.
Is there tomato soup beyond Campbells? In a line up of eight tomato soups, Progresso’s Vegetable Classics Hearty Tomato won out in another CI taste test, not to be confused by the “Tomato Basil” variety in this same line; that one was not so popular with tasters, in fact it landed near the bottom.
Chaokoah brand won as best tasting “by far” when tested against seven other regular coconut milks. In the light category, A Taste of Thai was preferred. (From a 1/07 CI taste test)
The results from this test were simple. Rather than more expensive imported Dutch processed cocoas, tasters picked good old Hershey’s (click here for the summary). Now I don’t have to wonder whether the cheaper choice is really the best or not!
In the diced category, Hunts Petite Diced was preferred in this test over Hunts Diced. In a separate test (found here), plain “Hunts Diced” once again ended up at the bottom, while the preferred choice in this second test was Trader Joe’s Organic Diced Tomatoes. Another good choice, according to this third test, is Muir’s Glen Organic Diced Tomatoes. (I’ve seen this last brand sold at Target and Kroger.)
This next canned tomato test was impressive. There are some seriously determined people out there willing to do almost anything to find the best tasting tomato. In this test (which had actually two rounds; round one can be found here and round two can be found here) a total of 30 brands were tested. You can see the complete results in this spreadsheet.
The results were interesting. Again, cost didn’t play into the favorites as much as you might think. In fact, some of the most inexpensive brands won. From the article:
“We tasted tomatoes that ranged from 99¢ to $12.80 a can. Cost per can did not have any impact on flavor. In fact, the lowest overall rating was awarded to the highest priced tomato. One of the top-performing tomatoes actually carried the second-lowest price tag!”
In the end (among many others I didn’t recognize — check the spreadsheet, you might recognize some from your region) favorites included Trader Joe’s brand and Cento Italian Style.
At over $5.00 a can, Miller’s Select Claw Crab Meat will need to do cartwheels for me to buy it on a large scale. I’ll let you know what happens with that. Still, it was rated #1 in a Cook’s Illustrated taste test, while being the ONLY canned crab meat to make their cut. This was enough to peak my curiosity just enough to be willing to spend the money to find out. You can find this brand for sale at Target.
Jarred Pasta Sauce
Consumer Reports tested 20 jarred pasta sauces (found here). The best in their opinion? Giada De Laurentiis’ Marinara (sold at Target). Separately, in another taste test (not including the previous brand), Serious Eats tested six brands and chose Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce, which I’ve seen sold at both Target and Walmart.
Here we have three good “top tasted” choices to think about. To begin, there’s Swanson’s Cooking Stock and Kitchen Basic’s Natural Cooking Stock. These two brands both won out in a Serious Eats taste test, found here. Additionally, Swanson’s Certified Organic 100% Natural Chicken Broth was a Cook’s Illustrated taste test’s most highly rated chicken stock.
This taste test tested out 6 brands of dried pepperoni, including the one I currently have stored, Bridgeford’s brand (which I use for this recipe and this recipe). The brand I’ve been using actually scored middle of the road. I’d like to try these others but I’ll have to do some more homework in order to find them. As far as the taste test goes, for snacking, they liked:
#2: Margherita Italian Style
While for Pizza topping they liked:
#1: Boar’s Head Natural Casings
#2: Margherita Stick
I’ve talked before about how smart it is to store applesauce. It works as a “no-fix” side dish to go with your food storage recipes, plus you get the vitamin C.
In a Serious Eat’s taste test, Tree Top was what they called “undeniably the favorite”. Separately, a Cook’s Illustrated taste test (not including Tree Top) tested 7 brands and the winner there was Musselman’s Lite Applesauce. In this test, they say the tester’s raved over it against seven varieties (not including Tree Top), however, because it’s sweetened by the sugar substitute sucralose I’m probably not going to store it.
Needs to be Stirred
The more natural “needs stirring” peanut butter was taste tested against nine varieties. The favorite (test found here) was Smucker’s Natural brand.
In the no-stir category Jif was the taster’s choice.
So, how did your favorite brands do??