Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Taste Test

Taste test: Turkey gravy

Years ago, our tasters sampled ready-made mashed potatoes along with prepared gravy from cans, jars or packets. From that day on, our judges have been buying heat-and-serve mashed potatoes, but making their own gravy. This week, we found four brands of turkey gravy in convenient, easy-to-pour cartons and wanted to give the premixed gravies another try. For the most part, judges said they will continue to make their own gravy this Thanksgiving.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

(out of 100)
Swanson 63Pacific 34Imagine 32McCormick 25
Swanson’s turkey gravy was very, very salty. That pleased most of our judges, although they said it could overpower some dishes. "I love the light color and the bold salty flavor," said one judge, adding that the gravy had a distinct turkey flavor as well. "I think it would work really well on mashed potatoes." A couple of other panelists said they might use the mix if they were in a hurry to get dinner on the table, but all said they would add whatever turkey drippings they could scrape up after roasting their birds.This gravy was very light-colored with bits of what some judges decided was turkey or sausage. It was sturdier than some of the other options, with an overall thick consistency. "It tastes like turkey and would cling nicely to turkey slices," said one judge. A couple of judges said it could overwhelm delicate vegetables or a light stuffing casserole. The Imagine brand of gravy was the darkest of the gravies. Judges described it as deep, caramel brown with "an appealing, rich flavor." It wasn’t as thick as tasters had anticipated, given the bold color. A couple of judges said they would thicken the gravy and definitely add fresh or dried seasonings. "It has a slight, uncooked flour taste so I wouldn’t add any flour for thickener," said one panelist. "But it’s possible some turkey broth, drippings or fresh herbs could brighten it up."Herb flavors, including sage and salt, were plentiful in McCormick’s carton of gravy, but they weren’t enough to salvage this for a holiday meal, judges agreed. They said the gravy was too thin and lacked any real turkey flavor. "It looked promising, but the flavor is just off," said one panelist who said she detected a fishy taste. Another said: "The harsh finish is unpleasant."
they buy?
Three of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.None of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$2.29 for an 18.3-ounce carton from Publix.$2.50 for a 13.9-ounce carton from Whole Foods.$2.50 for a 13.5-ounce carton from Whole Foods.$1.50 for a 12-ounce carton from Winn-Dixie.
Serving sizeOne-fourth cupOne-fourth cupOne-fourth cupOne-fourth cup
Fat/Fiber1g / 0g2g / 0g0.5g / 0g0g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium1g / 270mg0g / 170mg0g / 220mg0g / 280mg
Carbs/Protein3g / 0g4g / 1g2g / 0g5g / 0g
Panelists: Kay Hodnett, personal chef; Janet Keeler, assistant professor of journalism at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg;
Julie Overton, consumer and mother of four; and Laura Reiley, Times food critic. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to [email protected] Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line.

Taste test: pot stickers

Taste test: pot stickers

Whenever I order meals at a Chinese or Japanese restaurant I always look for pot stickers on the menu. The tasty Asian dumplings are filled with pork or chicken and veggies and cooked with a perfect balance of steaming and frying. The reason I order ...
Published: 01/16/18

Taste test: Our favorite foods from the past six months

The following is a list of the foods our judges liked the best from our tastings the past six months. Some background on this column: We began publishing the list in 2004 after readers asked for a short list to carry with them on shopping runs. Our p...
Published: 01/08/18

Taste test: New foods from Welch’s, Dannon and Tazo

With every new year comes a promise from our panelists to eat better and try to cut calories. This week we sampled some newer foods on the market in hopes of finding a few treats that won’t break our resolutions. After this tasting, our judges resolv...
Updated one month ago
Taste test: salmon

Taste test: salmon

Whether preparing a postholiday brunch or a New Year’s Eve cocktail party, a platter of thinly sliced salmon is a versatile offering. Our panelists visited the deli and seafood departments of a number of grocery stores, stocking up on the salmon clas...
Updated one month ago