There are a lot of factors that get taken into consideration when I’m grocery shopping for the family. Price is often the first consideration, followed by my personal taste and my kids; bang for the buck (i.e. actual cost considering size); reputation of the company; usability of the product; and the ingredients. Ideally, it’s al 1c48 ways my intention to buy foods that don’t contain any artificial sweeteners or other unnatural ingredients.
Lunchtime foods like peanut butter and jelly are one area of our diets that I’ve worked pretty hard to find the right stuff for. It’s the one meal of the day that my kids usually eat their entire lunch, so I want it packed with as much good stuff as possible. At the same time, the foods we eat can get pretty routine – peanut butter and jelly being one of our old standbys. So I was pretty excited when I got an opportunity to review Santa Cruz Organic’s line of peanut butter, fruit spreads and fruit sauces – totally up our alley!
They sent me both creamy and crunchy peanut butter, four varieties of their fruit spreads and two 6-packs of fruit sauces – suffice it to say, I knew exactly what we’d be eating for lunch that day and the following two weeks or so. I’m going to break my review down by day so you can see our reactions of each of the products, in a variety of situations. I think it can take a few days to get acclimated to any new food and find out exactly where it may excel or flop – so I’m really going to try to put these products to the test!
A quick perusal of the peanut butter warned me that it would be oily (this is pretty typical of a lot of organic peanut butters) and that I’d need to refrigerate it. There are not many natural peanut butters out there that don’t suggest refrigerating, so this wasn’t really surprising. I twisted the top off and indeed was met with quite the oily mess, which was only made messier after my lame attempt at stirring. I’m kind of a JIF girl when it comes to peanut butter and since JIF is one of the few peanut butters that doesn’t need to be refrigerated, even it’s natural line, I’m a bit spoiled. I didn’t enjoy the mess. Even after I stirred, it didn’t spread easily as it was SO wet, but I am hoping that once it’s been refrigerated it might get easier.
As for the taste, to be honest? For me it was a miss. Another thing JIF adds to their peanut butter that Santa Cruz does not is something pretty simple, but I think it makes all the difference: sugar. I’m cursed with a sweet tooth and I found it made a difference. Some people may not be thus afflicted. My four year old didn’t bat an eyelash at his sandwich and my one year old ignored hers as much as she always does. Santa Cruz promises that their peanut butter contains “no hydrogenated oils, no added sugars and no artificial ingredients.” Next time I may try adding the peanut butter just a bit thicker to really try to taste it more as this sandwich seemed rather weak and a bit dry to me.
Current peanut butter rating: a flop
But what about peanut butter’s better half: the jelly? This afternoon we picked the seedless red raspberry. I’ve been using Smucker’s Simply Fruit and I thought this tasted equally good. The jar is the same size – I’ll have to check the supermarket to compare price. Licking the spoon, I noticed that it had a nice full-bodied flavor that wasn’t too sweet, but definitely sweet enough for my tastes. It also spread very nicely, but I think I was being a little too conscious of my hips and wish I’d spread it a bit thicker – I didn’t get much of that great flavor in the finished sandwich. I’ve found a less than satisfactory peanut butter can ruin a perfectly good jelly in combination though, so I haven’t given up on it. I’m planning to have some on toast tomorrow morning. We’ve also got the apricot, strawberry and blackberry pomegranate flavors to try.
Current fruit spread rating: a possible hit
And lastly for this afternoon, the fruit sauce! We tried the apple peach combo today. I was a bit apprehensive as I don’t really eat apple sauce often and I don’t really like peaches either. So imagine my surprise when I kind of liked it! I thought the peach flavor actually lended itself really nicely to the apple. And I like that these sauces have no added sugars or yucky stuff – just pure fruit. This can be surprisingly hard to find in apple sauce! Some things don’t need the extra sweet and this is one of them!
My kids loved the peach apple sauce! My four year old literally devoured his, practically licking the container clean and my one year old was not very happy to be sharing her container with me – they both seemed to agree that this was good stuff!
Current fruit sauce rating: a total hit!
I made another sandwich with the now refrigerated peanut butter and the strawberry jelly (my favorite jelly flavor). I found the peanut butter spread much better today and after lathering them on much thicker (PB and J) the flavor was better. I still found the peanut butter a bit grainy perhaps and not sweet enough for my taste.
I also put some of the strawberry jelly in some greek yogurt, something I do often with my other jelly. This was a big hit. This jelly is just delicious, no matter what I put it on.
That night Dan made a peanut butter sauce for his ice cream and loved it. He liked the texture, flavor everything. I think this is just a Dan peanut butter – he doesn’t have my sweet tooth and really likes a natural flavor.
I gave up on the peanut butter and started using my current jar of Skippy with the Santa Cruz jellies instead. So. much. better. Seriously, guys. I love their jellies but the peanut butter just isn’t for me. The kids have now devoured all of the peach apple sauce so we’ve moved onto the tropical fruit variety. I’m not as much a fan of this one – I liked the peach better – but the kids still love it. These fruit sauces will likely become a regular purchase in our household for the kids – I like being able to buy the individual cups since I’m lazy, but they also sell big jugs of the stuff!
DAY I LOST COUNT SORRY
I’ve now tried all of the jellies on various pieces of toast and sandwiches and I have to say I love them all – even the apricot jelly, which I wasn’t holdi 5a8 ng my breath on. I think the strawberry and blackberry pomegranate are my favorites but all four were great! These people know their fruits and the fruit sspreads are all fantastic. The peanut butter has now been in the refrigerator for about a week and it doesn’t spread nicely at all right out of the fridge. You’ll probably want to microwave it or leave it on the counter for awhile before trying to spread – because even your toughest of wheat breads aren’t likely to stand up to it right out of fridge – I know my Arnolds Wheat bread was no match for it!
My bottom line opinion: Santa Cruz knows their fruits – if you are in the market for a fantastic, organic fruit spread or sauce, I would definitely recommend this brand. They also make juices, dessert toppings, sparkling beverages and tea which I’m planning to try soon! Their peanut butter, frankly didn’t stand a chance against Skippy and JIF’s natural lines in my opinion – but if you already like those less sweet, needs to be refrigerated varieties, you might like it just fine – I know my husband liked it, but I don’t think I’ll buy it in the future because I’m so happy with my other options.
I love that all of Santa Cruz Organic’s products are certified organic, contain no high fructose corn syrup, artificial ingredients or preservatives and a ecb re manufactured entirely with renewable energy from sources like on-site solar energy and renewable energy certificate purchases. You can buy these products in your local grocery store or organic food chain.