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Taste test: Pizza sauces

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February marks the beginning of baseball season in our house and, admittedly, we eat a lot of pizza while watching or coming and going from games. Some evenings, nothing tastes better than a takeout pie. That said, we have been working hard at eating healthier and trying to prepare our own meals, and that includes pizza. We have experimented with different crusts, toppings and sauces. There are many brands of ready-made pizza sauce on the market, so sampling can be a daunting prospect. That's why we asked the Taster's Choice panel to do the work for us. Because we found 18 brands of pizza sauce, we decided to split the tasting into two sessions. This week, taster's reveal their top three picks from the first nine offerings. We'll share three more favorites next Wednesday.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score

(out of 100)
Sugo de Pomidoro 61Publix 59Contadina 55
Judges'

comments
Panelists loved the big flecks of herbs and spices in this offering. "It's very tasty and it looks homemade," said one judge, adding that the sauce wouldn't need a lot of flavorful toppings to make a delicious pizza. "This would be good with just a little cheese because it really tastes pretty good on its own." Another called the sauce "balanced," saying she appreciated the mixture of flavors. The sauce was more sweet than savory.This store's brand of sauce had decent-sized chunks of tomatoes and sufficient herbs. One judge said she tasted a hint of fennel in the sauce as well as sausage. She said it reminded her of sauce that had been simmering on the stove all day. "This has real Italian flavor — I can taste all the herbs," said another. "I would love to use this on my meatball sub."This sauce came in a convenient squeeze bottle. "This would be perfect for kids," said one panelist. "I would be perfectly comfortable letting them make their own pizza with this sauce." Contadina's sauce was a deep, red color. It also was thicker than many of the other brands. "It has a real appealing tomato taste," said another judge. "I like the slight sweetness."
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$3.99 for a 14-ounce jar from the Fresh Market.$1.39 for a 14-ounce jar.$1.50 for a 15-ounce bottle from Walmart.


Also Sampled: Classico ($1.72 for a 14-ounce jar from Walmart, 53 points); Prego ($1.58 for a 14-ounce jar from Walmart, 47 points); Enrico's ($2.75 for a 15.5-ounce jar from Publix, 33 points); Chef Boyardee (98 cents for a 15-ounce can from Walmart, 21 points); Muir Glen Organic ($2.19 for a 15-ounce can from Target, 31 points); and Winn-Dixie ($1.39 for a 14-ounce jar, 44 points).

Panelists: Janet Keeler, assistant professor of journalism at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and editorial director of Sundaysuppermovement.com; John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; Mary Jane Park, executive director of the St. Petersburg Warehouse Arts District Association; and Laura Reiley, Times food critic. All sauces 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 mstar[email protected] 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-fourth cupOne-fourth cupOne-fourth cup
Calories354030
Fat/Fiber0.5g / 1g0g / 1g1.5g / 2g
Sugars/Sodium4g / 310mg3g / 240mg3g / 340mg
Carbs/Protein6g / 1g5g / 1g6g / 1g

Taste test: Pizza sauces 02/15/16 [Last modified: Monday, February 15, 2016 10:10am]
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