Frozen piecrusts have become kitchen staples. We know this even if we don't necessarily agree with the idea - but we all acknowledge the convenience of these products, and the fact that a delicious homemade filling can provide ample compensation.
We tasted five frozen crusts baked with pumpkin-pie filling. After the tasting, our six judges lamented that none stacked up to homemade. Yet, despite the grumbling, three of the five crusts earned above-average scores.
We sought the qualities we look for in a homemade crust: flaky texture, buttery flavor, nicely browned hue, pretty edging. No single crust delivered all the goods, but Pillsbury/Pet-Ritz came closest in our tasting; just one-tenth point behind was Dominick's private-label crust.
Products are scored on a scale of 1 to 9, with 9 being highest. Prices are based on what we paid for them at the supermarket and may reflect sales or discounts.
And the winners are ...
Here are the winners, with tasters' comments. The remaining crusts are listed in order of finish.
$2.29 for two crusts. 6.1 points. "Rich, satisfying flavor." "Sandy texture but in a nice way." "Very pretty; fluted edges are nicely browned." "Little taste, no buttery flavor."
$1.99 for two crusts. 6 points. "Tastes like a piecrust, with good `crumble.' " "Nice scalloping on edge; baked up well." "A bit on the bland side."
3. Jewel, 5.8 points; 4. Mrs. Smith's, 4.7 points; 5. Whole Healthy (from Whole Foods Market), 4.5 points.