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Taste test: salsa

In our continuing celebration of 10 years of taste testing, we re-sample another of the column's original food items: salsa. Back then, we sampled seven brands from local grocery stores. This time around, there were so many varieties to choose from, we split the tasting into two sessions, with eight brands this week and eight more brands next week. All 16 were chunky style with medium heat levels.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent


(out of 100)


Gringo 54

Pace 43

Although this salsa lacked the thick consistency that some panelists preferred, they liked the blend of spices and flavors. "It's got a slightly soupy look," said one. "But it's good." Another liked the bite from the seasonings and the chunky pieces in the mixture. "I like the green peppers, but they have definitely lost some of their brightness in the processing," she said. This salsa had plenty of cilantro as well.Mission's salsa had a good texture and lots of chunky tomatoes. Problem was, judges said, it looked more like canned diced tomatoes than salsa. "I like the chunks of onion and peppers," said one panelist. "It has a nice hint of freshness to it — more so than the others," said another judge. The look of the salsa bothered one taster, although he enjoyed the taste. "Every ingredient is identically colored — is that wrong?"In 2004, judges chose Pace as their favorite salsa in a jar. Just as they did 10 years ago, panelists praised its chunky texture, the prominent veggies and the not-too-spicy taste. "I also can see nice chunks of garlic," said one judge. Another liked the brighter colors of the green peppers and herbs. "I would serve this if I didn't have time to make my own fresh salsa," she allowed.

they buy?
Two of the four judges said yes.One of the four judges said yes.One of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$4.79 for a 16-ounce jar from

$2.98 for a 16-ounce jar from Walmart.$1.98 for a 16-ounce jar from Walmart.

Also Sampled: Chi-Chi's ($2.49 for a 16-ounce jar from Publix, 23 points); Tostitos ($1.98 for a 15.5-ounce jar from Walmart, 39 points); Taco Bell ($1.88 for a 16-ounce jar from Walmart, 23 points); Riverwalk Cantina ($1.58 for a 24-ounce jar from Walmart, 28 points); and Herdez ($1.98 for a 16-ounce jar from Walmart, 35 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Wayne Conery, manager of the R Bar in Treasure Island; Julie Overton, consumer and mother of four; and Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island. 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 Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving sizeTwo tablespoonsTwo tablespoonsTwo tablespoons
Fat/Fiber0g / 0g0g / 0g0g / 1g
Sugars/Sodium0g / 75mg2g / 110mg2g / 230mg
Carbs/Protein2g / 0g2g / 0g3g / 0g

Taste test: salsa 07/14/14 [Last modified: Monday, July 14, 2014 4:19pm]
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