Taste test: Cheddar cheese slices

Convenience is everything when it comes to meal preparation these days. And nothing is easier than using pre-sliced squares of cheese on the lunch box sandwich, the burgers on the grill or in a weekday dinner menu. Taster's Choice found 11 brands of cheddar cheese slices in grocery store refrigerators. Four were delicious enough to serve on a dinner party platter and plenty of them would work in a grilled-cheese sandwich.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent
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Product/Score (out of 100) Kraft Cracker Barrel/87 Market Pantry/87 Sargento/83 Kraft Deli Deluxe/82
How'd it look? Deep orange, not shiny. Festive, like a celebration. Deep color, no gloss. Just like at grandma's house. Hearty. Electric orange. A just-sliced deli slice from your grocer. Like a slice off a big cheese block from the farm.
Judges' comments Sturdy, not oily. "It's sharp but still very flavorful," said one judge. Another said it tastes real, not like plastic. One panelist said he would be proud to serve the Cracker Barrel cheese with wings and crackers. "It's thick and hearty with a very appealing, smoky sweet flavor," said one judge. Another described it as crumbly and wholesome like real cheese should be. All of the panelists liked the firm texture of these slices. The slices are thin but the flavor is thick, deep and hearty, said one judge. "It's as if the cows feasted on cheese balls in their feed." Another said, "It's got a deeply sharp cheddar flavor and good tooth resistance." He was impressed with the non-greasy texture. "This is firm, inviting and nice in the mouth," said a panelist who was attracted to the bright color of the cheese. Another said it was one of the creamiest of the samples.
Would they buy? All four said yes. All four said yes. All four said yes. Three out of four said yes.
Shopping information Widely available. $3.34 for 10 slices at Wal-Mart. Widely available. $3.99 for 12 slices at Target. Widely available. $2.54 for 11 slices from Wal-Mart. Widely available. $3.38 for eight slices from Wal-Mart.
Also sampled: Borden Fat Free ($2.76 for 16 slices from Wal-Mart, 29 points); Borden Reduced Fat ($2.76 for 16 slices from Wal-Mart, 43 points); Kraft Fat Free ($4.38 for 16 slices from Wal-Mart, 26 points); Sara Lee ($3.98 for 20 slices from Wal-Mart, 77 points); Kraft Deli Fresh ($3.34 for 10 slices from Wal-Mart, 63 points); Publix Sharp ($2.49 for eight slices from Publix, 59 points); and Market Pantry Singles ($2.69 for 16 slices from Target, 51 points).

Panelists: Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; Jim Yockey, aesthetician at Anu You Institute; John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; and Times food critic Laura Reiley. 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 jkeeler@sptimes.com. Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to food.tampabay.com.

Taste test: Cheddar cheese slices 09/09/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 4:15pm]

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