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Taste test: apple cider

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Growing up in Hawaii, hayrides with hot cider weren't a big draw. But I have happily enjoyed a number of those fall-welcoming events in my adult life as a mainlander, though in Florida it can be difficult to find many opportunities to sip warm apple cider. My favorite is a combination of cider with a berry-flavored iced tea garnished with cinnamon and citrus fruits. Our judges said they likely would do the same with one of the basic varieties of cider we found on local grocery store shelves. A couple of brands we sampled had spices already added. Others were labeled as pure cider.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score

(out of 100)
Trader Joe's 92Musselman's 65Zeigler's 64
Judges'

comments
The specialty food store's brand of apple cider had added spices that judges appreciated. They liked the cloudy color of the blend and the bold flavor. "You get the sense of crushed apple in the glass," said one judge. Another said, "This is what you expect apple cider to taste like." She pointed to the hues of clove, cinnamon and cardamom. Most of the panelists said they would serve this cider warm, though one said she liked it either warm or cold. "There's a strong, fresh apple taste," she said. This brand had more of an apple juice appearance, but judges found plenty to enjoy in the offering. "I want to mull this with a cinnamon stick," said one panelist. "It's very refreshing, smooth and slightly sweet," said another. "This reminds me of fall in the Midwest," said a judge who liked the smoothness of the cider.Judges particularly enjoyed the sweetness of this cider. One described the flavor as "delightfully apple." Another said this cider would work as a base for an even fancier drink. "This would be a good base for a fall apple sangria." Another said, "It tastes like a combination of a golden delicious and a very tart apple beautifully and nicely blended."
Would

they buy?
All four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$2.99 for a 64-ounce bottle.$3.98 for a 128-ounce bottle from Walmart.$2.98 for a 64-ounce carton from Walmart.


Also Sampled: Murray's ($8.99 for a 128-ounce bottle from the Fresh Market, 44 points) and Martinelli's ($5.99 for a 1.5-liter bottle from the Fresh Market, 58 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director at Studio@620; Janet Keeler, assistant professor of journalism at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg; and Julie Overton, cook and bartender. All drinks 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 mstark@tampabay.com. Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

tampabay.com/things-to-do/food/tastetest.

Serving size8 ounces8 ounces8 ounces
Calories120120120
Fat/Fiber0g / 0g0g / 0g0g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium24g / 10mg26g / 25mg30g / 60mg
Carbs/Protein30g / 0g31g / 0g30g / 0g

Taste test: apple cider 11/28/16 [Last modified: Monday, November 28, 2016 11:48am]
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