Friday, November 17, 2017
Taste Test

Taste test: Our top picks from January to June 2017


Navigating the choices on grocery store shelves can be as difficult as trying to find a shopping cart with four working wheels. The fearless judges on our Taster's Choice panel have taken on the challenge for the past 13 years to help shoppers traverse the aisles and select the right products for their palates.

A couple of times a year, we publish a list of the top picks from our panelists. In the past six months, judges have tasted steak sauces, frozen chicken wings, salted butter and orange juice. We also purchase and taste many of the new products advertised in end-cap displays aimed at grabbing our immediate attention. More often than not, the "new" offerings don't match up to their promotions. But, once in a while, we taste a delicious new item like Whole Fruit Frozen Juice Pops and stock our freezers.

Except for new products, we compare the options of the same foods from different manufacturers. Each month, we shop for all of the brands of various products and ask our judges to tell us how the items look, taste or smell and score them on a scale of one to 100 points. We also ask if they would buy the food. Our judging is unscientific, but the comments from our panelists can help readers understand the basis for their opinions. We also provide the scores of all of the items sampled to help shoppers make their own decisions. Some of the scores are very close, although we only describe the top three picks.

We try to shop at most of the major supermarkets including Publix, Winn-Dixie and Walmart. Usually, Trader Joe's and Fresh Market are on our shopping route, along with Aldi and Target on occasion.

We are always looking for more foods to try and appreciate reader input. If you have a suggestion, please let us know by emailing [email protected]

Here are the foods that have scored the highest among our judges since January.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Taste test: prepared mashed sweet potatoes

Taste test: prepared mashed sweet potatoes

If you want to spend more time with your family and friends this holiday season and less time in the kitchen, our judges suggest serving Hormelís mashed sweet potatoes. No need to wash, peel and heat potatoes. Just pop the container in the microwave ...
Published: 11/16/17
Taste test: Turkey gravy

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 ...
Published: 11/13/17
Help name Big Stormís new toffee chocolate stout, made with William Dean

Help name Big Stormís new toffee chocolate stout, made with William Dean

Collaborations between brewers are not new. Nor are collaborations between brewers and distillers. Or beer brewers and coffee brewers. It makes sense: Use a barrel for one thing, then it in turn imparts interesting flavors to the next thing thatís ag...
Published: 11/09/17
Taste test: Crispy onions

Taste test: Crispy onions

Crispy onions sprinkled atop the traditional green bean casserole is a sure bet for most of us this Thanksgiving. But our judges like the texture of the onion straws on a variety of foods ó from salads to burgers to baked potatoes. When my mom used t...
Published: 11/06/17

Taste test: New foods from Toblerone, Nature Valley, Godiva and more

As soon as the calendar hits November, many of us move into holiday mode. Our panelists wanted to take a step back this week and enjoy some new foods before they begin the harried season of entertaining, traveling and shopping. When they do invite fr...
Updated one month ago

Taste test: pepper jack cheese

Even though autumn sometimes misses Florida altogether, this time of year sends our panelists searching for comfort foods. They also like to spice things up a bit while they sip pumpkin-flavored coffees and apple ciders. One thing that definitely add...
Updated one month ago