Loyal reader and stitch n bitch hostess extraordinare SP came up with a very interesting taste challenge recently. In her own words:
In my many hours of TV watching lately, I have seen this crazy commercial that says people prefer Prego spaghetti sauce over the ones in the fancy jars (like Classico). I just cannot imagine how this can be true, so I would like to have a spaghetti sauce taste test. I’ll make some spaghetti and veggie meatballs and we’ll taste sauces and then you can put your winner on your noodles and balls.
SP went out and bought 7 different sauces, all of the basil and tomato variety. Being the scientists that we are, this was a double-blind taste test. SP gave each sauce a number and JL took the numbers and assigned them letters. Then, each sauce was placed into a dish, like so, with no additional spices:
To cleanse the palate between tastings, I had some delicious Italian bread from Trader Joes, which was served with SP’s homemade garlic dip/spread.
We were all very thorough in our tasting strategies, with several of us doing replicates and tasting in different order. But no one was as thorough in scoring as our resident German, who broke each sauce down by various categories such as: “feeling on mouth, tomato aroma, thickness, overall, natural.”
The results were surprisingly unanimous. Here they are, by rank. (My notes in parenthesis.)
- Classico (chunky, basil-y)
- Barilla (slightly acidic)
- Safeway Organic (OK)
- Prego (OK+)
- Ragu (too sweet)
- Bertolli (too tomatoey)
- Trader Joe’s (too sour)
I was quite shocked for several reasons. First, I always buy TJ’s Basil Marinara and I thought I liked it. But then again, I do add quite a bit of stuff to jar sauces such as fresh garlic, sugar, and herbs. It was a nice surprise to see Safeway Organic in the top 3 — probably a pretty good value, if the others aren’t on sale. Also, I thought I hated Ragu, but it turned out to be very average in this taste test.
After the taste test, we got to eat our favorite sauce(s) with spaghetti, veggie meatballs, and salad. It was a really fun adventure, and useful as well!