Sargento - An Experiment with Cheese
As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a $25 gift card in the mail to be used toward the purchase of a Sargento cheese product, a competing processed cheese product, and any other accompanying groceries that would aid in my cheese-tasting event.
My cheeses used were Sargento's Cheddar / Mozzarella blend, and a grocery store brand pasteurized processed cheese (not cheese product, I can't eat that)
Let me preface this post by saying these items seemed very expensive for mediocre quality. Jazz apples are the best I can get right now that aren't mealy, the grapes have skins tougher than rhino hide, the crackers were generic (although we really liked the veggie ones), and the processed cheese was incredibly expensive for a store brand. Yes, even the Sargento cheese seemed overpriced at $3.79 for 11 slices or 7 oz. I don't necessarily discredit the brand, though, I think the store where I bought them is higher priced than where I usually shop.
We started our taste-test using our basic senses on just the cheese (no other ingredients). There were 4 players in this game - Myself, Jen (my wife), Lily (my daughter) and Mom. Using our vision we formed a consensus that the Sargento cheese had a richer color, and the processed American cheese had a suspicious looking glossy sheen.
The texture of the cheeses were incredibly different. The processed cheese could be completely folded in half without breaking or tearing, whereas the Sargento cheese could be folded but only tore, jaggedly, at the seams of the cheddar / mozz blend. The Sargento cheese also has a crumbly texture, whereas the processed cheese feels unnaturally slick like a piece of wet rubber.
Next came the smell test. Sargento cheese smelled of homemade mac n cheese, while the processed cheese smelled like mac n cheese from a box. Delving a little deeper, we noticed the Sargento cheese had somewhat of a nutty smell to it. The cheddar was more prominent than the mozzarella, of course, and the Sargento cheese didn't have an oily smell like the processed cheese. With the processed cheese, we noticed it smelled like cooked oily milk, or perhaps a roux. We also noticed that after a couple of minutes it had absorbed the smell of the cutting board.
Finally, tasting it was the best part. We started with Lily and gave her a blind taste test. She got the cheeses correct - she knew which cheese she was tasting. First was the processed cheese. She said it tasted like oily milk and that it tasted yellow. Jen and Mom mutually agreed that the processed cheese was mushy, oily, milky, had a indescribable thickness, it reminded Jen of boxed Velveeta and left an oily, gooey film on her lips.
To me, the processed cheese was pasty, dry, salty, and oily. It instantly coated my mouth like peanut butter and turned into this disgusting slimy mass as I was trying to swallow it. My entire mouth was covered in a film that I was still tasting after a few minutes.
The Sargento was noticeably more pleassant to eat. It had a nice crumbly texture with a nice sharp cheddar that wasn't too overpowering (the mozz probably balanced it). It had somewhat of an aged flavor. To me it was a little salty, but not too much.
We later taste tested the cheese with the fruit and crackers. We decided these weren't the right kind of apples for tasting cheese, and the grapes were tough with skins tasting like they were full of tannins. The Sargento was great on crackers. The processed cheese was lacking in the area of taste but was overpowering in the area of texture. We couldn't taste the cheese if we had a cracker in our mouths, but we still got the benefit of that awesome greasy film coating our mouths and lips.
Next came Battle Grilled Cheese!
The processed cheese was the first into the pan. The cheese melted so fast that it was absolutely molten before the bread was caramelized.
The cheese had disintegrated and galvanized to the bread. It's almost as if I just put some Cheez-wiz on some bread and shoved it in the microwave for 20 seconds. When we tasted it, the bread was soggy and we couldn't taste the cheese. I describe it best as "salty half toasted bread thing."
Sargento won the day. We got a nice caramelized sandwich with beautiful melted cheese in the middle. I tried to get a picture but I literally tore the bread trying to pull the sandwich a part. The cheese had integrated itself into the bread and hung on for dear life.
The bite was the best. Nice crunchy toasted bread and chewy, gooey CHEESE in the middle. The cheese melted in such a way that as you pulled the sandwich away from your mouth it had little cheese strings stretching away. You could distinguish between the flavor of the bread and the cheese, and both had good texture (because it could be properly cooked). I'd give a Sargento grilled cheese a 9 out of 10.
And so, to wrap things up, we appreciate Sargento and the Foodbuzz Tastemakers program for allowing us this opportunity for fun and education, and for the ability to share our experience with everyone. I had known about differences in cheese, but only slightly. For example, I have discovered over the past year that a ball or block of mozzarella makes better pizza cheese than a pre-shredded package because the shredded dries out in the bag. I've also always known that cheese-food or cheese-product is not real cheese but an abominable scourge afflicting the palettes of humankind.
I think when it comes to Sargento versus processed cheese, well, I feel like I'm comparing apples to oranges. Perhaps this coming week I might try a flavor of Sargento sliced cheese (like cheddar or Swiss) and see how it stacks comparatively with the same kind of cheese (like cheddar or Swiss) of a generic brand. Apples to apples.
Labels: Noob News