Best of the Best: Tree Top
Four Runners-up: Vermont Organic, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods 365, Musselman's
Apple sauce is big with those in highchairs, nursing homes, and latke eaters. With Hanukkah starting at sundown on Wednesday, we decided to have an apple sauce tasting—it was either that or sour cream. Though we prefer the from-scratch kind, sometimes you just don't have the time or stovetop space to boil apples and deal with peels, especially when there are potato pancakes to worry about! We were curious, are there any good store-bought jarred ones out there? How do they compare in terms of sweetness, tartness, and chunkiness? We tried 11 brands—find out which placed in the top five.
- Flavor: Slightly sweet but balanced with tartness. Fresh-tasting, like it came from crisp tree-picked apples.
- Texture: Smooth but not so thin that it's closer to apple juice than sauce. Not reminiscent of Gerber baby food mush. It should have some heft and texture; small apple bits are nice.
The Brands We Tried
- Gefen Kosher
- Eden Organic
- Vermont Organic
- Santa Cruz Organic
- Northeast McIntosh
- Trader Joe's Unsweetened Gravenstein
- Whole Foods 365 Organic Unsweetened
- Wild Harvest Organic
Why the Losers Lost
Too bland—were there even apples in there? Sometimes you really couldn't tell. Some were so watery and smooth, they ran all over our plates. Others were too grainy and mealy.
With enough West Coast transplants in the office, we couldn't ignore TreeTop*. Widely available up and down California, this is what many tasters grew up on. Perhaps an apple sauce cognition theory should be applied here, a la pizza cognition theory? Such would state: the first apple sauce a child sees and tastes, becomes, for him, apple sauce. But it was undeniably the favorite, even for those who don't hail from the TreeTop motherland out west.
It seems silly to describe apple sauce as apple-y, but this was the most reminiscent of fresh-picked fall orchard apples. The texture was also pleasant: not mealy or grainy, nor watery.
* We actually special-ordered Tree Top from their Washington state headquarters since it's nowhere to be found near our New York City office. The jar was only $1.95 but the shipping and handling on the other hand, well, ten times that.