Monday, July 28, 2008

The Cream Always Rises to the Top

Bottle vs. Carton: A Taste Test Between Clover vs. Strauss

I often wonder when looking at rows of seemingly exact products but with very different packaging, how much of it is packaging and how much of it is taste.
The question becomes even harder to answer when the product in question comes from a cow. The cow’s diet, stress level, overall life, processing of the dairy, shipment and numerous other factors can contribute to two very different products.
So how does Strauss organic cream, the one in the old fashion bottle taste in comparison to Clover organic cream, the one in the carton.
I pass Clover herds as we drive up to Bodega Bay. They seem happy (well, perhaps not happy, since I truly don’t know what makes these cows happy). I will say these are the only cows I have ever seen run, (and not because someone was chasing them) but just to run with other cows. I do know Strauss keeps their cows in the Sonoma region in pretty similar conditions.
But that bottle, the thick glass, the pure white inside, and the blue logo reminding consumers of 1950’s nostalgia, I love it, I fall for it and I buy it every time.
But this week I decided to let go of my love of the bottle and do a side-by-side taste test. I asked myself: Am I being fooled by a pretty exterior?
I took both cream homes and conducted a blind taste test, using my family members as other judges. Our initial impressions are the following:
Strauss was sweeter, yellow in color, heavier, with a smooth and fatty mouth feel. It contains a thick layer of buttery cream on the top making for a few clumps.
Clover possessed an almond-y (nutty) flavor, grassier (more cow like taste.) It was lighter and refreshing.
But we decided to go one step further. Let’s try both creams whipped, with intended purpose to use for fresh cut summer fruit.
While Clover whipped up quicker to a nice pure white consistency. Strauss' cream still was sweeter and was a better complement for the fruit.
I believe Strauss seems better in use of sweet dishes or desserts, such as whipped cream, custards or cakes. While Clover with it’s distinctive flavor would best be suited in sauces, home made cheese, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs and in coffee or tea (because of the no clump factor.)
I baked some plain scones with clover cream which turned out very rich, yet tender and deliciously scrumptious. And to be honest, in cooking the cream, the differences are probably even more subtle.
So is the bottle all that it is hyped up to be? Probably not, the bottle doesn’t make good cream, the cows do.
And the bottle shouldn’t be the reason for your purchase. (You are probably thinking, I knew that) Yet, each cream has its merits and each cream deserves to be respected as such.
Personally, I like the nutty, grassy taste. It has a nice earthiness and complexity. Yet, for some Strauss’ sweetness and richness is more their style. Try to ignore the bottle and follow your taste.


The P & A Food Chronicles said...

its hard to find... bottle anythign these days. definatelly better taste... i agree

Manger La Ville said...

I know, can't help loving that bottle - and its oh so sweet.

Sam said...

Were you at Acme in the Ferry Building yesterday morning talking about your blog? I am a little too shy to talk about my own blog to strangers in public places, otherwise I would have said hello in person instead of the timid way, via this comment.

Manger La Ville said...

I was at the Ferry Building talking about my blog. I just started to really get into it. Your blog is beautiful, it is a new favorite.