Cashew nuts taste pretty much the same, no matter what they cost at the grocery store. That's what our panelists decided after sampling six varieties.
Comparing cans of cashew halves and pieces proved to be challenging.
All brands sampled were rated within 15 points of each other. With 80 being the total points possible, four scored in the 40s and two in the 30s. Judges considered taste and appearance, and how likely they would be to buy the product.
Planters ($3.79) scored the highest, with 48 points. Following closely was Albertsons' store brand ($3.59) with 45 points, and in third place, with 44 points, was the Emerald brand ($3.79).
Planters ranked highest because panelists found a few whole cashews in the mix and less salt than some of the competitors.
Cashews from Albertsons and Emerald got similar reviews, except from one panelist who found a burnt cashew in his Albertsons sample.
We also tested samples from Kash n' Karry ($3.39), Publix ($2.99) and Nutcracker ($7.99 for a large tin).
All the cashews looked and tasted basically the same. The differences were in salt and crunchiness.
"Cashews should crunch," one taster said.
Another panelist said he could see too much salt in his serving of Kash n' Karry cashews before he tasted any.
"Call the heart doctor," he said.
- Panelists were Nan Jensen, home economist with Pinellas County Family and Consumer Sciences; Ernest Hooper, St. Petersburg Times columnist; Harry Galloway, professional pianist and graduate of the Tampa Bay Cooking Academy; and Jim Yockey, aesthetician, Tierra Verde Salon and Day Spa.
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