Mince Pies Tasting Test

Mince Pies Tasting Test

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Christmas started early at SustainIt as we really couldn’t escape the dutiful task of tasting our High Street’s finest Christmas mince pies. We chose 14 different mince pies from our local stores and supermarkets. It was amazing how many we found given that it’s only November!

We know, we really shouldn’t have. It was hard work (and considering the taste of some of them we are not being ironic at all) but we needed to find out what our different palates determined were the best for Christmas 2016. We were the obvious people for the job!

Tesco, Spar, Waitrose, Iceland, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Aldi, Lidl, Harrods and M&S, in gluten free, dairy free, brandy-flavoured & vegan varieties… we got them all!

A box filled to the brim with boxes of mince pies full of raisins and sugar waiting in our office for the scheduled tasting day felt like an egg ready to explode. All the different competitors’ pies were waiting to be cut in pieces and enjoyed on a cold and windy autumn afternoon in our SustainIt offices in Bristol.

An unbiased result requires an unbiased judge, so we had to go for a blind test. The set up involved cutting up the mince pies into quarters and placing them upside down on letter-marked plates to disguise any obvious branding (Harrods!). We then invited our colleagues to enjoy our little banquet with cups of tea in hand.

Armed with smartphones with the Google Forms app we were ready to complete the survey for each plate. Even the mince pie haters rocked up and tasted; just a little bit!

Sounds of appreciation and yum noises were alternated with noises of disappointment and disgust. A lot of laughter and “oh my word you have to try those ones” were heard.

Each pie was scored out of 10 on visual appeal, pastry taste, filling taste and overall impression.

The results unexpectedly showed two mince pies that were favoured far above all of the others. With overall scores of 6.16 and 6.14 out of 10, M&S ‘Deep Filled’ and Tesco ‘Mince Pies’ absolutely won the competition. Not only did these pies taste good but they were also good value for money, with M&S costing £1.80 and Tesco only 89p. Not bad at all for these major retailers!

It was also a really pleasant surprise to find a vegan and gluten free option just off the podium. Iceland’s ‘We Love Cake’ mince pies, which are gluten, dairy and egg free, scored an overall 5.5 out of 10. I’d definitely consider these if you have any intolerance or if you follow a vegan diet. Among the four vegan options we had available, these were the best.

And the worst mince pies? With an overall score of just 2.9 out of 10, Spar’s ‘Love More’ gluten-free mince pies were by far the lowest scoring. A strawberry retro-taste and a very pale coloured pastry really didn’t help these poor little pies which everyone disliked.

Interestingly the most expensive mince pies from Harrods, costing a staggering price of £8.95 per box, scored a very low 3.4 out of 10. Considering the ratio of price vs taste, we can definitely say that when it comes to mince pies a high price doesn’t necessarily correspond to a great tasting product.

Look out for our next article which will look at some of the ethical and environmental impact of some of these mince pies. How many contain palm oil? If so is this palm oil sustainable? Have they used an ethical supply of butter or flour? And how have packaged their product?

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