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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Which Frozen Latkes Are Best?

Posted By on Thu, Dec 2, 2010 at 2:43 PM

click to enlarge The winner by a shred: Golden Potato Pancakes from Whole Foods. - ALEX HOCHMAN
  • Alex Hochman
  • The winner by a shred: Golden Potato Pancakes from Whole Foods.

Not to kvetch, but latkes are a huge pain to make. Between shredding what seems like a hundred potatoes, hot oil splattering across the kitchen, and a funky stench that lingers until Passover, who has the time and patience? Not us. My wife and I are big believers in frozen latkes, especially since we both work and typically aren't home until well after 6 p.m.

Our daughters Sophie (10) and Anna (8) have spent their Hanukkahs eating frozen latkes and this year will be no different (that rumbling you just felt was Grandma rolling in her Boca Raton grave). After lighting the menorah last night, we held a blind taste test of three brands of frozen potato pancakes. Sophie and Anna would be the judges.

click to enlarge The flimsy factor: Costco's Classic Cooking latkes. - ALEX HOCHMAN
  • Alex Hochman
  • The flimsy factor: Costco's Classic Cooking latkes.

We started with Classic Cooking latkes, found at Costco. Sophie described them as flimsy and needing more seasoning. Anna also found them flimsy but liked that she easily could cut them on her own, a proud Hanukkah moment for any Jewish 8-year-old! She liked that they were "lumpy," noting she could detect chunks of potatoes as well as hints (her word) of pepper.

Next up were Golden brand latkes that we purchased at Whole Foods. Sophie found them firm, on the crispy side, and with "lots of potato flavor." Anna agreed with the crispy part but not about the flavor. She thought they tasted plain, though that didn't bother her.

click to enlarge Mmm ... plasticky: The Trader Joe's brand. - ALEX HOCHMAN
  • Alex Hochman
  • Mmm ... plasticky: The Trader Joe's brand.

We finished with the house brand from Trader Joe's. Both girls agreed that while they were the crispest of the bunch, they were also the blandest. Sophie said they tasted a little like plastic.

The winner, according to Sophie, Anna, and my wife ... Golden brand, for its mix of crisp texture (clearly an important benchmark for two young girls) and potato flavor. Second place was my personal favorite, the Classic Cooking latkes. Limp texture not withstanding, I felt they had the best flavor mix of potatoes, onions, and pepper (they reminded me of my mom's). Though they'd been our go-to latkes for Hanukkahs past, Trader Joe's came in last on the girls' scorecards (mine too).

And we agreed on something else: With pores clogged with latke grease and breaths reeking of onions even after multiple Altoids, we decided next year's Hanukkah taste test would focus on jelly doughnuts.

Golden potato pancakes, $3.49 for 8, available at Whole Foods

Classic Kitchen latkes, $8.89 for 24, Available at Costco

Trader Joe's latkes, $1.99 for 8

Follow Alex Hochman at @urbanstomach . Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie.

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