Wendyl Wants To Know

Each week, Wendyl Nissen takes a packaged food item and decodes what the label tells you about its contents.

Wendyl wants to know: Taste test puts the right cherry on top

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Each week, Wendyl Nissen takes a packaged food item and decodes its contents

Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

Woolworths
Homebrand
Glace Cherries

$3.59 for 200g


In the lead up to Christmas it's time to start baking and for many home cooks a packet of glace cherries is a must for Christmas cakes, sweets and perhaps a cocktail or two.

A reader asked me to look into the available brands as she was concerned some might be better than others. And she was right.

In the search for good food it's always better to find a product which swaps artificial flavours and colours for natural alternatives.

Ingredients (in order of greatest quantity first):

Cherries (60 per cent)

The cherries have been heated in a sugar syrup to glace or candy them so they are essentially preserved. Traditionally, maraschino cherries are used but there is no information to tell us what variety they are.

Sugar

These are 49 per cent sugar, which makes sense as they are a very sweet item.

Glucose syrup

This is liquid sugar added in here, probably to keep the product moist.

Food acid (citric)

Citric acid is often used in food products to balance the acidity of foods.

Natural flavour

This is great that they have gone to the trouble of sourcing a natural cherry flavour. These taste more like the real thing than the Tasti brand.

Natural colour (163)

And top marks for using a natural colour. Colour needs to be put back into these cherries because their bright, red natural colour is lost during the process of making them glace. So often food manufacturers claim that it is hard to achieve a good red using natural colours so it is nice to see that Homebrand has achieved this using anthocyanins (163) which are red, blue or purple colours obtained from plants.

Preservative (202,211,220)

The preservatives used in here are potassium sorbate (202), sodium benzoate (211) and, unfortunately, sulphur dioxide (220) which can cause allergic reactions in asthmatics.


Tasti Glace
Cherries
$3.61 for 150g

Ingredients (in order of greatest quantity first):

Cherries (52 per cent)

A lower percentage of cherries in here compared to the Homebrand product. And also no indication of the cherry variety.

Sugar

Higher in sugar, these are 67.3 per cent sugar across the whole product.

Glucose

As above.

Flavours

No natural flavours here. This will be an artificial cherry flavour.

Mineral salt (500)

This is sodium bicarbonate or baking soda.

Preservatives (202, 220)

As above these are potassium sorbate (202) and sulphur dioxide (220).

Acid (citric)

As above.
Colours (124,127)

It takes two artificial flavours to achieve the red of these cherries. The first is Ponceau 4R, which was included in a voluntary phase out in the United Kingdom by the UK's Food Standards Authority after research found a link with hyperactivity in children [W1]. And since July, 2010 the European Union requires that a health warning must now be put on any food or drink that contains this colour, which it says "may have effects on activity and attention in children [W2]". The second colour is erythrosine (127), an artificial red made from coal tar.

My recommendations

My preference for Christmas cherries would always be a box of fresh ones from Central Otago, but I'm not sure how they would go in baking. So if you need to resort to a glace cherry for your Christmas cake, white Christmas or cocktail go for the Homebrand because they have more cherry per packet, less sugar and no artificial flavours or colours.


Highlights

*Homebrand uses natural flavour and colour.
*Tasti uses artificial flavour and colour.
*Homebrand has 60 per cent cherries compared to Tasti's 52 per cent.


Do you have a food product you would like to feature?

Email wendylwantstoknow@gmail.com with suggestions. Unfortunately, Wendyl cannot correspond with readers.On the web

Click here to read Wendyl's columns on other food products</strong>

- NZ Herald

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