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Taste test: Coconut oil

Coconut oil in a jar.

iStockphoto.com

Coconut oil in a jar.

Just a few years ago, we had to visit specialty food stores to find coconut oil. This week, we bought 12 different varieties at local supermarkets. That's a clear sign coconut oil has become a welcome option in our kitchens. But we are always skeptical of a food item that can be used for everything from homemade candy to diaper cream. Our panelists have experienced frying foods with coconut oil as well as adding it to coffee as a creamer or to oatmeal for a buttery richness. Coconut oil is great for frying because it has a high smoke point and its quality doesn't break down during the process. And, though it may give the house a nice aroma, it often doesn't leave coconut flavor in the food. To find out which brand had the best flavor, we sampled the oils slathered on saltine crackers.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score

(out of 100)
The Fresh Market 81Spectrum 79Carrington Farms 73
Judges'

comments
Besides frying, judges decided this oil would be their pick for coconut muffins. "The silky appearance and texture would add brightness and fluffiness to muffins," said one panelist. "It's nutty with a very pleasant mouthfeel." Another judge described the oil as extra smooth and moist.Judges said Spectrum's coconut oil would be especially good in baked goods because it had a strong fruit and nut flavor. "I like the satin finish with the bright coconut fragrance," said one judge. All panelists said the taste was mild, but the oil left a lingering buttery flavor. "This would be good if you want bold coconut flavor in a cookie or cake," said another taster.This oil reminded one panelist of "mom's cold cream," but he said it tasted good enough to smear on toast, adding that "It has a mild and slight coconut flavor." It reminded one taster of oleo. "I like the slight sheen," said another. "It has very smooth texture with no lumps or graininess and a pleasing nutty flavor."
Would

they buy?
Three of the four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$7.99 for a 14-ounce jar.$7.84 for a 14-ounce jar from Walmart.$11.86 for a 12-ounce tub from Walmart.


Also Sampled: Betterbody Foods ($8.42 for a 28-ounce jar from Walmart, 57 points); Lou Ana ($3.98 for a 14-ounce jar from Walmart, 47 points); Publix Greenwise ($7.99 for a 14-ounce jar, 53 points); Tropical Life ($6.88 for a 29-ounce jar from Walmart, 63 points); Nutiva ($12.99 for a 14-ounce jar from the Fresh Market, 67 points); Dr. Bronner's ($8.99 for a 14-ounce jar from the Fresh Market, 38 points); Trader Joe's ($5.99 for a 16-ounce jar, 49 points); Crisco ($6.79 for a 27-ounce jar from Winn-Dixie, 67 points); and Publix ($3.99 for a 14-ounce jar, 45 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; Cheryl Schaefer, chef and former restaurant owner; and Janet Keeler, assistant professor of journalism at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and editorial director of Sundaysuppermovement.com. All oils 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 sizeOne tablespoonOne tablespoonOne tablespoon
Calories120120130
Fat/Fiber14g / 0g14g / 0g14g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium0g / 0mg0g / 0mg0g / 0mg
Carbs/Protein0g / 0g0g / 0g0g / 0g

Taste test: Coconut oil 03/14/16 [Last modified: Monday, March 14, 2016 10:18am]
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