So why did I try the Organic Ragu after insisting I never would?
I assured myself, despite my rhetoric, that I would not be a Ragu junkie. This isn't cigarettes or heroin, I thought, it's only spaghetti sauce.
On principle, I wasn't going to pay $2.99, and I stuck to that point. However, as is done with many new products, I was able to buy it for $1.67 with a grocery store discount card. The $1.67 charge wasn't going to hurt my wallet too much.
Finally, my journalistic curiosity was flaring up. Why not give it a shot?
Before I tell you how this turned out, I decided to dig into what Ragu is like these days. I turned to America's Test Kitchen from Cooks Illustrated on PBS.
The show staff tests numerous food products throughout the series. Ragu did not score well at all. The sauce was one of two to be listed as "not recommended."
"More than one taster said that this sauce tasted as if it came from a tin can. The absence of favorable comments was striking: "might as well be tomato paste," "extremely salty," and tastes "heavily cooked/cooked for days," "like V-8," and "more like tomato soup," with a texture like ketchup."
Ouch!! Not very kind, I see. They were harsh to all sauces made from tomato paste instead of a fresher product such as canned diced tomatoes. While that criticism is a bit harsh, I do see their point.
Then again, their "winner" was $8.49 for 24 ounces. Certainly, you can do better for a lot less if you went the homemade route. And to be fair, the test was done on traditional Ragu, not organic.
Despite the not-so-glowing review, I still gave Organic Ragu a shot. I poured it into the pan. It looked thicker than the regular kind. As per childhood tradition, I sprinkled dried oregano on top. My mother always did that, so it seemed appropriate to do it now.
To make the presentation as equitable as possible, I used Dreamfield's, the only white-flour pasta I still eat at home. It was the closest thing I had to the spaghetti of my youth. I also used a lesser parmesan cheese, again to replicate the plate of my youth. All in all, the picture looked the same. But how about the taste?
Definitely better than I remember from my childhood. It was thicker as I poured it on the hot plate of spaghetti. The corn syrup taste was not there; that's for certain. But it was still too sweet. If I feared becoming a Ragu junkie again, the high sweetness level convinced me otherwise.
Overall, it wasn’t bad, but way too sweet. There are better sauces out there, even from a jar. But this is a huge step up from regular Ragu. I admit I was surprised a Ragu product could be as good as it was. In a pinch, and with a lot of oregano, it could work. I conquered the challenge, knowing I will never be a Ragu junkie again.