Apple-A-Day squeezes into Hall of Fame
By Janny Hu | Nov. 1, 2013 | Updated: Nov. 6, 2013 2:28 p.m.
Fall is in the air, and we’ve got freshly squeezed apple juice on our minds.
Taster’s Choice rounded up seven juices and ciders from the refrigerated sections of local markets, and though there was plenty of dissent among our panelists, the winning juice was clearly the apple of the panelists’ eyes.
First place Apple-A-Day ($1.99 for 16 ounces at Mollie Stone’s), from Ratzlaff Ranch in Sebastopol, is the newest member of our Taster’s Choice Hall of Fame, reserved for products that score 80 or more points out of a possible 100.
With a “bright apple taste” and “rich flavor,” this “well-balanced” juice was “sweet,” but in a “natural” way. “Refreshing” and “full-bodied,” all five tasters would buy this brand.
In second place: Barsotti ($5.49 for 64 ounces at Whole Foods). This freshly pressed apple cider tasted of “sweet,” “perfectly ripened fruit” – “too sweet” for some. And yet, others found the “apple flavor thin” and “flat.” Three would buy, one might and one would not.
Third-place Trader Joe’s flash-pasteurized apple juice ($3.69 for 64 ounces) was all over the map, with comments ranging from “quite sweet” to “tart” to “nicely balanced.” It had “no major faults,” according to one taster; “watery” and “weak” according to another. One would buy, three might buy and one would not.
Genesis ($2.99 for 12 ounces at Whole Foods), a raw organic juice, took fourth and also split the panel. Some liked its “natural” “fresh-pressed flavor” and “rich auburn color.” Others said the juice was “too sweet” and “cloying” and tasted like “overripe and rotten apples.” The flavor was unique enough for a few to ask: “A different apple variety?” Again, one would buy, three might and one would not.
Evolution ($8.49 for 64 ounces at Whole Foods) finished fifth. “Sweet with a nice tart edge,” this will appeal to those who their juices “lively” and “acidic.” But the “green, slightly unripe notes” were a major turnoff for others, who found “no apple flavor” and a “muddy” taste. Two would buy, one might and two would not.
A final note: We also tasted three varieties of ‘Tude apple juice, which we highlighted as a “What’s New” product in October. But the raw, cold-pressed varietal apple juices were so different from other brands in taste and appearance that we omitted them from the rankings.
|Fresh-pressed apple juice|
Panelists were Linda Anusasananan, food writer, San Mateo; John Carroll, cookbook author, San Francisco; Marc Halperin, culinary director, Center for Culinary Development, San Francisco; Emily Luchetti, executive pastry chef, Farallon and Waterbar, San Francisco; Roland Passot, chef-owner of La Folie in San Francisco and three Left Banks. All products are tasted blind; a perfect score would be 100. Prices listed are the lowest found, but products may be available at other stores.