Posts Tagged With: Green Giant

Canned Corn: Which Brand is Best?

Tara and I were shopping for our weekly groceries this afternoon and were in the canned vegetables section. She needed canned corn for a goulash recipe she was making. “Normally I buy Green Giant,” she said. “But when I’m just mixing a bunch of ingredients together, the cheap stuff will do.” At that point she plucked a can of Santiam off the shelf and started to walk away.

“Wait!” I said. “Is there really a difference between brands of canned corn?”

“I have no idea,” she replied.

“We should find out,” I said. And just like that, a new food challenge was born!

We can thank Napoleon Bonaparte for canning. French troops were suffering badly from malnutrition during their war with Russia in the 18th century, and Napoleon offered a reward of 12,000 francs to anybody who could develop a method of preserving food to keep the troops fed. Nicolas Appert, a candy maker from Paris, won the prize in 1809. Keenly aware that storing wine in sealed bottles helped preserve it, he applied the same principle to food, filling wide-mouthed glass bottles with food, corking them, and boiling them. The tin can followed shortly after, introduced by Englishman Peter Durand. And the rest is history.

To keep the playing field even, I chose the same type of corn: sweet, whole kernel yellow corn. There were two “economy” brands, Santiam and the WinCo store brand, and two “premium” brands: Green Giant and Del Monte. We decided to sample them straight out of the can – uncooked and not doctored up with butter, salt, or any other flavoring that might inadvertently sway our opinions. It was a double-blind study in which I labeled the bottom of each bowl with a number from 1-4, each one matching with a corresponding can, and mixed them up so that I had no idea which bowl corresponded to which can. Tara and I enlisted the aid of my daughter, as well, for a third opinion. unnamed

I went first, and it became immediately apparent that there were differences in flavor between each brand. They looked identical, but taste-wise, that was another story. After sampling all four, I chose my favorite. Then my daughter went, followed by Tara.

Surprisingly, the results were unanimous. We all chose the same brand as our favorite.

The winner? Del Monte. 

Del Monte’s kernels were plump and sweet, and had a pleasing consistency that was nearly creamy in texture. They were slightly salty, slightly buttery. Just a good, crisp fresh-tasting corn.

Green Giant came in second. Again, the corn was high quality, but the flavor was just a little lacking.

We were split between the bottom two as to which was worse, but they both finished 3 and 4 in the rankings. I found the WinCo brand to have a strange “burned” flavor, while Tara described it as tasting metallic. The Santiam brand didn’t have much flavor at all, and the kernels were a little smaller – and stringier.

I have to admit, the results of this taste test surprised me. I had always assumed all canned vegetables were the same, and that if you bought a more expensive brand you were essentially paying for the name. It turns out I was wrong, that there are differences in quality. The lesson? You get what you pay for! From now on, we’ll be buying Del Monte when we purchase canned corn.

I’m curious to see how other canned veggies stack up. Look for a sequel coming soon.

In the meantime, here are 15 great recipes using canned corn.

When it comes to canned corn, you get what you pay for.

When it comes to canned corn, you get what you pay for.

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Categories: Vegetables | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

100/365: National Cinnamon Crescent Roll Day

Today marks our 100th food challenge! That in itself feels like a tremendous accomplishment, even though we still have a long way to go. It’s already been an eye-opening experience, teaching us a lot about the backgrounds of many foods, and expanding our culinary horizons. We look forward to seeing this challenge all the way through to the end – which is a mere 265 days away now. On we go…

April 10th is National Cinnamon Crescent Roll Day.

These moon-shaped pastries date back centuries. I talked about their history on National Croissant Day back in January, so I’ll skip all that hullabaloo. Crescent rolls are like a poor man’s version of the croissant. They were popularized by Pillsbury back in the 1950s when prepackaged biscuit dough was introduced. The company, formed by Charles and Allen Pillsbury in 1872, was a corporate juggernaut, and at one time owned a variety of restaurants including Burger King, Godfather’s Pizza, Bennigan’s, Haagen-Dazs, and others. They also owned the grocery brand Green Giant, which begs the question: if they pitted their two most famous mascots – the Pillsbury Doughboy and the Jolly Green Giant – in a cage match together, who would emerge victorious? At first I thought the Jolly Green Giant would win hands down, but the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters, who is like a giant Pillsbury Doughboy on steroids (and was, in fact, inspired by him) is pretty badass. I think it would be a tossup.  By the late 1990s they had sold all their restaurants and gotten out of that business completely, focusing on the cake mixes and refrigerated doughs they are best known for. Pillsbury is actually now owned by Smucker’s, who also owns Crisco, Folger’s, Eagle, Laura Scudder, Hungry Jack, and other brands.

Regardless of who owns whom, this morning I whipped up a batch of cinnamon crescent rolls for breakfast. I rolled out and baked a can of regular crescent rolls according to the instructions, then topped them with butter, cinnamon, and sugar. According to the research I did after the fact I could have brushed them with melted butter and sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on them prior to baking…duh, that would have been good!…but they still turned out delicious, and were especially good with coffee.


Categories: Pastry | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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