I don't have many brand loyalties - I base my grocery shopping on price points, not on who has the fanciest packaging or funniest advertisements. Except when it comes to ketchup. Even though I don't use ketchup on a lot of things, the only brand I'll ever buy is Heinz. I don't care if the store brand has a bigger bottle or if Hunt's is cheaper, it's thick, rich Heinz all the way for me.
I was in Big Lots! yesterday and several Heinz ketchup varieties were on the shelves. We decided to pick up a bottle each of the Organic and the Reduced Sugar varieties to try out.
We thought it would be fun to do a "blind tasting" first to see if we could tell the difference between the different kinds of ketchups. Unfortunately, that idea didn't work - although all three varieties are thick and smooth, the Organic is dark red and the Reduced Sugar is a little bit paler than the Original. We could tell immediately on sight which one was which, and that takes all the fun out of it. So we settled on a standard side-by-side tasting comparison:
Original: Thick and bright red, with that familiar tangy Heinz ketchup taste. It's great stuff, and no other brand manages to get the flavor as "just right" as Heinz. Mostly, I use ketchup on burgers and mac-and-cheese (especially my favorite kind of mac-and-cheese, the cheap-ass crap they sell in boxes with powdered cheese sauce.) But my mother showed me that there is nothing that a beef gravy likes better than a bit of ketchup, so when I make beef stew or pot roast, I will often stir a quarter cup of ketchup into the broth before thickening it into gravy. Try it, you'll be amazed.
Reduced Sugar (formerly sold as "One Carb" ): Reduced Sugar was easy to pick out of the lineup because of its lighter color, but in a blindfolded taste test it would have been hard to distinguish. Sweetened with sucralose (aka Splenda) the label claims that it contains 75% less sugar than regular ketchup. I'm glad we took the chance on this one, because I'm always looking at ways to reduce the number of foods we buy that contain high fructose corn syrup. Heinz Reduced Sugar ketchup tastes excellent - I wouldn't turn it down even if I weren't keeping an eye on my carb intake.
Of the three varieties in our taste test, though, our hands-down favorite was Organic. It was rich, dark red and had a full, well-rounded ketchup flavor. Like many other organic products which contain sugar rather than HFCS, the flavor also had a "softer" and less cloying sweetness. Since I'm an old fart and remember what foods used to taste like before HFCS, it reminded me of the ketchup I used to get when I was a kid.
So now I've got three bottles of ketchup in the fridge, which is probably a record for us. I'll have to make some Hamburger And Egg for supper soon, so we can use up some of it.
Hamburger And Egg
1/3 pound hamburger (ground beef)
1/4 onion, coarsely chopped
2 eggs, beaten with a little milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown the hamburger in a skillet, breaking it up into chunks as you go. Just before the harmburger is brown enough, add the onion and sautee until golden. Pour off excess burger fat, then add the eggs, scrambling them with the hamburger. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with ketchup.
These are the ingredients for one person. Simply multiply the ingredient quantities by the number of people eating and follow the instructions to feed more than one. This recipe is infinitely scalable.