Zero Trans Fat Vegetable Shortening
The J. M. Smucker Company, manufacturer of Crisco, released its new product, Zero Grams Trans Fat Crisco, in spring 2004, promising that it would produce exactly the same results as the original Crisco when used in any recipe. To make the original product, Smucker puts soybean and cottonseed oils through a process of partial hydrogenation. The partially hydrogenated fat that's created in the process is, as you say, the source of the unhealthy trans fat in Crisco. The new product is made from nonhydrogenated sunflower and soybean oils and from cottonseed oil that has been through a process of complete hydrogenation. When an oil is completely, or fully, hydrogenated, it becomes a saturated fat-considered better for you than trans fat but not as healthy as unsaturated fat, which is found in many unadulterated vegetable oils.
To see how this new product performs, we prepared our pie crust, biscuit, and fried chicken recipes with both the original and the new Crisco. The pie crusts and biscuits made with each type of Crisco browned equally well, as did both batches of fried chicken. In fact, we couldn't tell the difference between the chicken fried in the original and new Crisco. The chicken tasted the same, and the skin was equally crisp.
In the case of the pie crust and biscuits, we could not discern a different taste, but there was a slight difference in texture. The pie crust made with the original product was a bit more tender, while the crust made with the new product was a bit more stiff and crackerlike. Likewise, the biscuits made with the original Crisco were slightly more tender and also a little more fluffy than their Zero Grams Trans Fat counterparts. Because the overall differences were so slight, we would not hesitate to try the new Crisco in any recipe that calls for vegetable shortening.
Our favorite premium extra-virgin olive oil from a previous tasting, Columela is composed of a blend of intense Picual, mild Hojiblanca, Ocal, and Arbequina olives. This oil took top honors for its fruity flavor and excellent balance. Tasters praised its “big olive aroma, big olive taste” with a “buttery” flavor that is “sweet” and “full,” with a “peppery finish.” One taster said: “It’s very green and fresh—like a squeezed olive.” Another simply wrote: “Fantastic.”
|Spain||$19 for 17 oz|
Tasters noted this oil’s flavor was “much deeper than the other samples,” describing it as “fruity, with a slight peppery finish,” “buttery undertones,” and a “clean, green taste” that was “aromatic, with a good balance.” “It has the flavor that some good EVOOs have,” said one admiring taster.
|Italy||$19.99 for 500 ml ($39.98 per liter)|
Virtually tied for second place, this oil was deemed “round and buttery,” with a “light body” and flavor that was “briny and fruity,” “very fine and smooth,” and “almost herbal,” with “great balance.” “Good olive flavor. I could smell it and taste it,” approved one taster. In a word, “pleasant.”
|Italy||$17.99 for 750 ml ($23.98 per liter)|
|Recommended with Reservations|
A clear step down from the top oils, tasters noted “overall mild” flavor and “very little aroma,” with only a “hint of green olive” and a “hint of spiciness at the end.” In pasta, it was initially “not complex,” but gradually “bloomed in your mouth.” Overall, it was “worthy of a second bite.”
|Italy, Greece, Spain, and Tunisia||$12.49 for 750 ml ($16.65 per liter)|
While some tasters found this oil “sweet” and “buttery” with “medium body” and “slight spice at the end,” others complained that it had “zero olive flavor” and was “so floral it’s almost like eating perfume”; still others noted a “bitter” aftertaste. In pasta, it was “extremely mild” to the point of being “boring.”
|Italy, Greece, Spain, and Tunisia||$10.99 for 750 ml ($14.65 per liter)|
Comments: The best comments tasters could muster were “mild” and “neutral.” Some liked it on pasta (though one called it “Snoozeville”), but complaints were myriad: “metallic,” “soapy,” “briny,” “hints of dirt.” Carped one taster, “I can’t imagine what is in here, but they have a nerve calling it EVOO.”
|Spain||$13.99 for 1 liter|
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