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Taste test: salsa, Part 2

In this, the second installment of salsa ratings — there were just too many (16) to do in one tasting — judges had the same dilemma they had last week: Finding one that really wowed them. From last week's eight, judges chose Green Mountain Gringo, Mission, and Pace, although none were huge favorites. The same goes for this week. Judges picked the best three from eight more options, but were ambivalent about their overall affection for salsa from a jar. All of the salsas were chunky style with medium heat.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent


(out of 100)
Archer Farms 51On the Border 49Winn-Dixie 48

The jar said "medium," but our judges were pleasantly surprised by the extra heat they detected in this blend of salsa. "I'd say it's a little past medium in the heat index and very peppery," said one panelist. Another liked the flecks of green pepper and the smaller size of the tomatoes in the jar. "I think it has a nice, vinegar flavor and crunchy tomatoes," said a judge who was craving homemade tortilla chips for dipping."Hot and sassy" were the words one taster used to describe this salsa. "I love the spicy flavor," he said. This brand was heavy on cilantro and oregano and layered in a thicker-than-normal tomato base. "It has a great Madrid color and deep roasted flavor," said one judge. "It's nice and chunky."Panelists who like heavy tomato texture in their salsa picked this one. The store brand was "slightly inelegant looking," said one who didn't object to the large chunks of tomato and heavy salt flavor. One said it had a bit of a ketchup taste, saying it was a bit too pasty for his liking. Another enjoyed the thickness and said he would buy the brand. "It's got great flavor and crunchy texture," he said. "This would be great on a hot baked potato."

they buy?
Two of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.One of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$2.99 for a 16-ounce jar from

$3.49 for a 16-ounce jar from the Fresh Market.$2.49 for a 16-ounce jar.

Also Sampled: Market Pantry ($1.89 for a 24-ounce jar from Target, 39 points); Great Value ($1.98 for a 16-ounce jar from Walmart, 41 points); Snyder's of Hanover ($3.49 for a 15.5-ounce jar from Winn-Dixie, 34 points); the Fresh Market ($3.99 for a 16-ounce jar, 41 points); and Publix ($1.89 for a 16-ounce jar, 40 points).

Panelists: Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; aesthetician Jim Yockey; 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 Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving sizeTwo tablespoonsTwo tablespoonsTwo tablespoons
Fat/Fiber0g / 0g0g / 0g0g / 1g
Sugars/Sodium1g / 220mg1g / 140mg1g / 240mg
Carbs/Protein2g / 0g2g / 0g3g / 0g

Taste test: salsa, Part 2 07/21/14 [Last modified: Monday, July 21, 2014 3:48pm]
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