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Taste test: smoked bacon

When it comes to flavoring autumn casseroles or holiday meals, bacon becomes a cook's friend. Taster's Choice wanted to know if any of the bacon found in local grocery stores was worth a special shopping trip. The result was a resounding yes. All of the samples were cooked in the oven on parchment-lined baking sheets.

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Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score (out of 100) Publix/85 Sunnyland/66 Smithfield/60
How'd it look? Thicker than the competition with a good snap when it crumbled. Perfectly rectangular and thinner than the others. Long, narrow and firm with lots of marbling.
Judges' comments "These slices have minimal fat," said one judge who described the flavor as woodsy. This bacon was especially chewy and panelists said it would hold up the best in cooking. "This bacon has it all: size, flavor and taste," said one judge. Judges liked the caramel color of this bacon and the balance between salty and smoky flavor. One described it as "Hickory Farms." Another panelist detected an apple flavor in the bacon and suggested it would be especially good in a dish with green beans. What this bacon lacked in smokiness, it made up for in crispness. The Smithfield bacon had a nice marble texture and didn't shrink in size when it was cooked. Judges said it would be their first choice for a holiday brunch. It is a bacon that could stand alone or spruce up a side dish, they said.
Would they buy? Three of the four judges said yes. Two of the four judges said yes. Three of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information Widely available. $3.79 for 16 ounces. Widely available. $2.50 for 12 ounces at Publix. Widely available. $4.29 for 16 ounces at Publix.

Also sampled: Oscar Mayer ($5.19 for 16 ounces at Publix, 35 points); Gwaltney ($2 for 12 ounces at Wal-Mart, 40 points); Wright's ($4.98 for 24 ounces at Wal-Mart, 22 points); Great Value ($2.92 for 16 ounces at Wal-Mart, 45 points); Plumrose ($2 for 12 ounces at Wal-Mart, 47 points); Lykes ($2.59 for 12 ounces at Sweetbay, 54 points); Hannaford ($2.49 for 12 ounces at Sweetbay, 34 points); and Archer Farms ($3.49 for 16 ounces at Target, 56 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian with Pinellas County Cooperative Extension; Jim Yockey, aesthetician at Anu You Institute; Rhonda Sanderford of Yes-Homes, Smith & Associates Real Estate; and Julie Overton, consumer and mother of four.

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

Taste test: smoked bacon 11/11/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 9:30am]
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