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Old 06-27-2013, 02:49 PM   #1
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Brand name ingredients in recipes?

I recently read this at the southern living webpage:
Use name-brand ingredients. Store brands of sugar are often more finely ground than name brands, yielding more sugar per cup, which can cause the cake to fall. Store brands of butter may contain more liquid fat or flours more hard wheat, making the cake heavy.

I started wondering about this. I generally use the same brands over and over - especially for baking even if they aren't the cheapest and have found I have preferences even amongst generics.

As an example one stores house brand of dark brown sugar is consistently darker than almost all other brands and I go out of my way to purchase it.

Have you found much difference in staples from brand to brand or seasonally?


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Old 06-27-2013, 02:53 PM   #2
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I like to stick with pure cane sugar. Beet sugar, which is cheaper to make, is often what you get with generic/store brands. There are differences in baking and cooking.

If the butter is Grade A, it should be pretty much only cream and salt.

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Old 06-27-2013, 03:07 PM   #3
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In all the years I've been cooking/baking I've never noticed any appreciable difference between store and generic goods. However, if this information is valid, it only reinforces my belief in using a scale to measure/weigh ingredients.
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Old 06-27-2013, 03:18 PM   #4
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One time I sent DH out to pick up some flour. He bought the generic brand and everything I made with it was heavy and denser than normal. I used it up but then went back to my Gold Medal All Purpose flour. I haven't noticed a difference in sugar or butter.
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Old 06-27-2013, 03:20 PM   #5
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We've found several items of "store brand" stuff that we like much better than "name brand". At HEB, many of the store brand items are locally produced or grown right here in Texas.

Ultimately, I think in commercially printed recipes that have the specified brand name in the ingredient list is just a marketing ploy to encourage sales.

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Old 06-27-2013, 04:05 PM   #6
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I think it is important to read the label and decide for yourself.

I have been fooled by some TNT name brands that have more or less sold out and I have had good results with generic items.

The most recent example was a purchase of what I thought was Land O Lakes cheese. When I got it home I soon discovered it was some sort of processed cheese food product. I was very disappointed but, it was my fault for not taking the time to read the label. I just grabbed a trusted brand, my bad!
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Old 06-27-2013, 04:15 PM   #7
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When I move (and I have, a lot), I usually start out trying the store brands. If I find something I especially like or dislike (for example, canned green beans. Publix used to have a store brand I especially liked and bought all the time. But a lot of stores have problems with improperly trimmed green beans, ends & stems in the can along with the bean. Some canned beans of other types: pinto, kidney, navy, can be so mushy when you buy the store brand (Wal-Mart has this problem) that it is worthwhile to buy brand names if you need the beans whole). I bake seldom, so probably would go with the more expensive stuff since I don't experiment when I do bake.
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Old 06-27-2013, 05:33 PM   #8
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You have to think and judge the risk of a less than optimal product. Flour is one product I can't evaluate by applying logic or examination. But I know that there is a range of wheat types and proportions used, so I know there's a risk I may not discover a problem until I see finished results. So I stick to "my" brand, King Arthur.

I know butter can contain more water than I would like. But I always use "European-type" butter, with its higher fat content, and the only store brand I encounter of that is HEB's Central Market brand, and those are premium products with high standards.

HEB has two line of store brand products, "HEB" and the cheaper "Hill Country Fare." The HEB branded products are generally the equal of name brand, but HCF has often been inferior in all sorts of ways, so much so that there are few products I will consider buying under that label. But I understand the risk. HEB branded sugar appears identical to name brand.

Of course, with more exotic products, the name brand and store brand may come from the same commercial kitchen. And there is no reason for a store brand to be inferior. It entirely depends on the store's specifications and instructions to the store brand manufacturer. If the store wants a superior product, the specify ingredients equal to or better than the brand name ingredients.

As to brand name versus brand name, differences are often matters of taste, although sometimes the preference is nearly universal. Hunts, for instance, routinely polls at the top of tomato products. But that preference can be manipulated in ways that don't necessarily reflect better quality. Darker brown sugar, for instance, probably just has more molasses. And brown sugar can be white beet sugar, rather than cane sugar, with molasses added. Of course, if you really want to know what's in your brown sugar, mix your choice of molasses and good quality cane sugar at home.
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Old 06-27-2013, 05:47 PM   #9
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What's interesting is I actually prefer some store brands of unsalted butter over Land O' Lakes. Here's why. Salted butter only contains cream and salt. Unsalted butter contains cream and "natural flavorings". I find that Land O' Lakes is more aggressive with this flavoring, and things like Swiss meringue buttercream aren't improved by this flavor and actually become too buttery in my opinion. I've had great luck with My Essentials (Food Lion, Hannaford etc..) BJ's club and Aldi unsalted butter. I know that My Essentials is made by Richfoods, and I suspect that the others are the same. I've never found a butter that seemed to throw off a recipe because of too much water content. margarine on the other hand is all over the map with water content, I don't use it though so not a problem.

Sugar does vary in crystal size for sure between brands. I weigh my sugar, so it makes less of a difference in most recipes. I have been buying White Gold brand pure cane, it is made by Dixie Crystals and is cheaper than the Dixie Crystals that it sits beside.

Flour, well I've had good luck with pretty much every brand that I've used, I've never had one that made a huge difference in the quality of my baked goods. I often buy My Essentials unbleached flour. If I had to pick a favorite based on quality and price it would be Gold Medal unbleached.
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Old 06-27-2013, 06:52 PM   #10
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I've read where many generic products are made by the same companies that produce the brand names, just sold under a different label.

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