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From the Rose Bowl and Orange Bowl to the all-important Sugar Bowl -- featuring the undefeated University of Utah Utes -- snacks will be a requirement when watching this week's college football games.

To go along with the chips and salsa, don't forget some guacamole.

For purists, nothing compares to homemade. But for those who seek convenience - -- or who tire of buying "fresh" avocados only to find them brown inside -- the best option may be one of the premade guacamole offerings at the grocery store.

But which commercial brand tastes best or is worth the money?

The Salt Lake Tribune decided to find out. Last week, we gathered 14 staff members -- a mix of hungry reporters, editors and newsroom personnel -- for an informal blind taste test. The panel tasted seven mild guacamoles, all of which had avocado listed as the first ingredient (more on this later).

After much dipping, the La Mexicana brand was dubbed the favorite.

"A good zip that made it a fiery party in my mouth," is how one taster described it.

Added another: "Best of the bunch. It looked and tasted good."

It wasn't a unanimous win. A couple tasters found this brand, produced in Vernon, Calif., bland and without personality.

La Mexicana comes in a 10-ounce plastic container topped with chopped tomatoes, which likely kept the guacamole from turning brown around the edges. (That was the problem that affected a popular Utah brand, even though it was purchased well before the "sell by" date.)

La Mexicana also proved to be the best bargain. We purchased it on sale for $2.50 or 25 cents per ounce. (It's regularly $3.69.)

When buying premade guacamoles, we suggest looking closely at the name on the label and the list of ingredients. Many products are called "guacamole dip" or "avocado dip" and contain little or no fresh avocado. The first ingredients on several of these impostors were sour cream and a lot of additives and preservatives. One label read: "Contains less than 2 percent avocado," while another listed only "avocado powder." Not surprisingly, these fakes contained almost double the calories and fat of a mostly avocado-filled guacamole.

Back to the real stuff. The tasting team's second choice was Wholly Guacamole, made in Fort Worth, Texas.

"Great color and best taste concentration," said one taster.

"A nice mix of smooth and chunky," said another.

This brand is made through a relatively new high-pressure pasteurization process -- called Fresherization. The process keeps more of the real avocado taste, several testers noted, but also makes it "industrial" looking.

It also was slightly more expensive than our top choice. A 14-ounce box (which contains two 7-ounce pouches) costs $5.49 or about 39 cents per ounce. For those who only want a small amount of guacamole, having the two separate pouches, which can be opened or even frozen for later, at different times, may save money in the long run.

Yucatan, another pasteurized guacamole, was our third pick.

"This one had the best flavor, most like [homemade] guacamole," said one connoisseur.

Another taster liked this brand for its "good chunks of avocado" and "better spices than most."

A 16-ounce pouch -- sold in a plastic container -- costs $4.89 or about 30 cents per ounce. If La Mexicana had not been on sale, this would have been our "best buy."

The Tribune's Top Guacs

1. La Mexicana

"A good zip that made it a fiery party in my mouth."

$2.50 for a 10-ounce plastic container (normally $3.69)

2. Wholly Guacamole

"A nice mix of smooth and chunky."

$5.49 for two (7-ounce) air-tight pouches

3. Yucatan

"Good chunks of avocado. Better spices than most."

$4.89 for a 16-ounce air-tight pouch

Other guacamole brands tested: Chachies, Garden Fresh Gourmet, Rico and Tabletop

Marcus Allen's gridiron guacamole

5 ripe avocados, peeled and seeded

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 of a large onion, chopped

1 tomato, diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

2 green chilies, diced

1/3 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

In a large mixing bowl, coarsely mash avocados, leaving some chunks. Stir in lemon juice. Fold in remaining ingredients and serve.

Source » Hass Avocado Board

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