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Taste test: Ready-made rice pudding

Few treats are as flexible as rice pudding. The pudding can be eaten hot or cold. It can be made with fresh or leftover rice. It can be cooked with water, milk or a variety of added flavors and textures, including cinnamon and raisins. Even easier, consumers can choose from a selection of ready-made rice puddings in local grocery store refrigerators. Our tasters recently tried five brands of the thick and tasty treats.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score

(out of 100)
Kozy Shack 73El Viajero 53Hannaford 51
Judges'

comments
Bright, white color and bold vanilla flavor gave this pudding the edge over the competition. Judges liked the "generous helping of rice" in each serving, along with the sturdy texture of the treat. "It's silky, creamy, vanilla-flavored and just what rice pudding should look like," one judge said. "The rice really shines through, which is a big plus," another said.Judges were a bit divided on their affection for this brand of rice pudding. Those who preferred a lot of cinnamon and texture raved about the sample. Others craved a plainer version. "This tastes just like mom used to make," one panelist said. "It's got lots of great cinnamon but it kind of overwhelms the pudding," another said. A couple detected an artificial sweetener in the blend. "I think it's got a bit too many additives and too little rice," one said.Sweetbay's store brand of rice pudding had plenty to offer our tasters. It wasn't doctored with any sweetness other than a healthy taste of vanilla. "It's soft and not too lumpy," one judge said. Another said the serving tasted like vanilla ice cream, adding, "I would like this by the fire while I'm skiing through Yellowstone." Judges suggested this would be good as a base for adding fruit, coconut milk or nuts to create a fancier dessert.
Would

they buy?
Three of the four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$2.78 for a six-pack of 4-ounce cups from Walmart.$2.98 for a four-pack of 4.5-ounce cups from Walmart.$2.58 for a 22-ounce tub from Sweetbay.


Also Sampled: Senor Rico (96 cents for an 8-ounce cup from Walmart, 50 points); and Jell-O ($2.18 for a four-pack of 3.6-ounce cups from Walmart, 29 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Kay Hodnett, personal chef; John Hehn, owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; 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 jkeeler@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 size4 ounces4.5 ounces4.5 ounces
Calories120140130
Fat/Fiber2g / 0g2g / 0g2.5g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium14g / 125mg17g / 70mg16g / 150mg
Carbs/Protein21g / 4g27g / 3g24g / 4g

Taste test: Ready-made rice pudding 02/24/14 [Last modified: Monday, February 24, 2014 1:06pm]
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