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A month ago I’d noticed a steep jump in the price of my usual ‘Pure’ sunflower spread, which has been my choice for nearly a year now, in fact, since becoming lactose-intolerant.
Of course it never replaced the creamy taste or flavour of ordinary butter, but it was the closest imitation I’d experimented with, and I stuck loyally to it. It performed its duties satisfactorily.
Quite often priced in the region of 82p for a 500g tub, two weeks ago it jumped to 92p, for some reason???
Did I miss something on the news, had a sudden disaster occurred that warranted this? Had sunflower seeds suddenly become an endangered species?? To increase in price like this, irked me somewhat, but I am, as always, manipulated, by my dietary needs. Grrr….
A week later whilst in Tescos, I noticed a new visitor to the margarine section. It too was ‘milk-free’, 13p cheaper than the ‘revised’ price of my ‘Pure’, and guess what…it was a Tescos own brand. What a surprise?? (I simply must try harder to suppress my cynical tendencies!)
*For people who’ve not heard of the ‘free from’ range before, Tesco has produced over 100 products specially formulated for people with food sensitivities, or people who simply wish to avoid certain food additives or ingredients i.e. milk, soya, egg, maize, yeast or artificial additives. Amongst them, bread, chocolate, cakes, pizza bases etc… Some ‘organic’ products are included too. Details of this range can be accessed via the website address at the foot of this page.
I have tried some of these ‘free-from’ products before, and been impressed with the quality in general. However, the high price has often been a source of dissuasion, but at 79p for a 500g tub of this spread, I didn’t think that was SO bad, and was keen to give this a trial.
500g of this ‘Free-from’ margarine, comes in a brick-shaped, plastic tub. On the lid, which is decorated like the rest of the tub in Lilac and purple colours, a picture of a sunflower can be seen in the top right corner. ‘New’ written in a red label is in the centre. The lid displays the ‘V’ symbol, meaning this spread is suitable for a vegetarian diet.
The title of the spread is displayed, along with the statement that this is a ‘dairy-free sunflower spread’.
On the side is a list of its uses, including spreading, baking, shallow frying and sauces. It can also be frozen.
On the base of the tub is an in depth list of nutritional information, and strangely (I thought) the suggestion that the tub contains 33 servings? Something I would normally associate with a dessert! (Well it depends what you do with it, I suppose?) You are also advised of the fact to keep it refrigerated, and a list of ingredients is also printed. This too is detailed, but essentially, this is a ‘59% fat spread, made with a blend of sunflower oil and vegetable oil.’ Not one ‘E’ is mentioned.
I contacted Tesco for clarification as to whether this spread was suitable for Vegans, the result of which, I’m pleased to say, that it is!
If there’s one feature of the ‘Pure’ spread I detested, was it’s rapid stature decline once you get it out of the fridge. This might not be of any significance if you were proposing to cook with it, but when making a sandwich, it almost became a bit of a race to complete and eat it, before the sogginess that ensued, made it mighty unpalatable.
Due to this fact, I rarely ate sandwiches, so…the optimist in me was hoping that this Tesco alternative could out-perform ‘Pure’ in this respect.
I start my day with no less than four slices of toast. It must be burnt and have been made at least half an hour previous. That’s just the way I like it, plus, as the ‘Pure’ had a tendency to soften quickly, cold toast increased the amount of time this took to happen.
Lifting the lid, I encounter an inner foil with the Tesco logo attractively displayed. I half removed the inner seal, and for the first time I get to glimpse the natural, creamy looking mass. Appealing? Yes…and as I briefly inhale the contents I can detect only the faintest whiff, leaving me no more knowledgeable as to its taste.
As soon as I penetrate the spread with the knife, I am immediately aware of how much firmer it feels than the ‘Pure’, and this lifted my spirits somewhat and inspired confidence. The texture was smooth and the spread was consistent in colour. It remained intact whilst spreading, but softened enough to cover the toast evenly, and easily.
As an extra test on its capacity to stay firm, whilst out of the fridge, I made myself a cup of tea, which took approximately five minutes. On my return, the spread’s appearance was the same as when I’d left. It hadn’t permeated into the toast or transformed itself into a pile of unappetizing gunk. On a warm day like it was, I was fairly sure that this wasn’t just a ‘one off’ either.
The first bite was a revelation, and tasted deliciously creamy, non-salty… bland… but yet, quite satisfying. I continued devouring the whole four pieces of toast with enthusiasm. I was happy…nay…delighted, that this spread impressed me with each new mouthful. There was no lingering, nasty aftertaste, or greasy feeling left in my mouth.
Compared with the ‘Pure’, so far this spread was winning.
This for me was its biggest test of all. Could it put sandwiches back on the Menu?
Having grown some cress, ripe for the cutting, I proceeded to combine bread, spread and cress into the traditional style of a sandwich.
I must tell you now, that the end result was gastronomically gratifying. The spread stayed put, stable in its original structure and yet again a vast improvement over the ‘Pure’.
I made a small batch of sponge cakes in order to test its ‘creaming’ abilities and flavour once cooked. Using the spread, straight from the fridge, I found it ‘creamed’ easily, and mixed well with all the other ingredients.
When it came to eating the baked cakes, the texture of the sponge was light, golden and flavoursome.
I have also used this spread for making sauces, in which it performs more than adequately. It did not ‘split’, and bound well with the flour.
It freezes a treat, defrosting intact, and simply returns to its original condition. Defrosting the spread takes approximately forty-five minutes to an hour, although the temperature of the room would obviously be a determining factor.
*The one usage I didn’t test it for was shallow frying. I don’t eat much fried food. However, I did use it for basting a chicken at the weekend, and it added a lovely golden glow, slight taste, and welcomed crunchiness to the skin.
Full details are available on the tub, or via links at the foot of this page. However I’ll endeavour to give you a brief summary, incorporating the facts that I think will be general interest.
In relation to 100g of ordinary BUTTER there are:
208 less calories, 0 carbohydrates, which is .5g less, .3g less salt, and a whopping 40g less Saturated fat!!
All in all, this is a very healthy alternative to butter.
Sandwiches are definitely back in town, hooray… no sloppy toast for breakfast again…yes! Another advantage to this spread being firmer is I tend to use less, so ‘a little goes a long way’.
Although very sceptical at first, this spread has gained my respect and I’m pleased to give it my recommendation. Obviously being an ‘own brand’ of Tesco, there might be an accessibility problem for some, but don’t forget, if you do get the opportunity to test it and like it, you can always buy it in bulk and store it in the freezer.
I’m grateful I ‘stumbled’ across this spread, as not only does it possess all the aforementioned qualities, I actually think it is great value, especially when compared to the ‘Pure’.
([£]) l have found that the TESCO Value spread is lactose-free as well ~ so for the little l use margarine it is fine
. . . . ~ ! ♥♥ ! ~ ........................................................... ~ jes ~ ! ♥♥ !
e.j.kingham 20.04.2006 18:22
Sounds like a good alrounder; baking, freezing and most importantly spreading. Plus not salty... another plus!
tekin21 06.02.2005 11:57
Brill review, very detailed - I try to avoid addting any spread to my bread - I usually adda tsp light mayonnaise for that bit of lubrication. Jane x