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Taste Test: Pork sausage

From stuffing to breakfast casseroles, it seems as if holiday recipes often call for pork sausage. The grocery store chains offer many choices in their refrigerator cases. Taster's Choice sampled seven brands and discovered a wide range of flavors and heat. We tasted the "mild" versions of each brand, slicing the meat and sauteing the patties. Some were spicy enough to make a big difference in a special dish.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score (out of 100) Jimmy Dean/60 Publix/48 Gwaltney/45
How'd it look? "Like a Jimmy Dean commercial," said one judge who recognized the brand, even though the tasting was blind. Another described it as "a baby burger." Deep brown color and like a hockey puck. Golden brown with visible fat.
Judges' comments "This is very sweet and savory with a very nice chew," said one panelist who picked the brand as his favorite. "It would be great in a sage, corn bread stuffing," he said. Another said she would serve it for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. "It has a spicy flavor but it's not overwhelming," she said. "It's homey with nice spices," said another judge. Leaner than the Jimmy Dean sausage and not quite as spicy, said judges. A couple said the brand might work best if a recipe needed sausage for texture and not too much bite. The saltiest and fattiest of the choices, but full of sage flavor. Judges also said it was the chewiest of the brands, making it useful in a recipe rather than served on its own. It reminded one panelist of his grandmother's sausage casserole.
Would they buy? Three of the four judges said yes. One of the four judges said yes. One of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information Widely available. $2.99 for a pound at Publix. Widely available. $2.69 for a pound at Publix. Widely available. $1.68 for a pound at Wal-Mart.
Also sampled: Odom's Tennessee Pride ($3.29 for a pound at Publix, 33 points); Bob Evans ($2.99 for a pound at Sweetbay, 41 points); Thrifty Maid ($2 for a pound at Winn-Dixie, 12 points); and Winn-Dixie ($2.50 for a pound, 37 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian with Pinellas County Cooperative Extension; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; Jim Yockey, aesthetician at Anu You Institute; and consumer/foodie John Hehn, owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or e-mail them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Taste Test: Pork sausage 11/22/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 9:59am]
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