Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butter

We both eyed the pumpkin butter from the middle of the aisle, peering over a number of other TJ's shoppers scurrying by. One other woman did a double take as she perused the jellies and syrups. It seemed the pumpkin butter aroused curiosity more than anything else. As Sonia and I debated whether to buy and review the item, one question rose up in our minds, "What would go well with pumpkin butter?"

For that reason, the jar has no fewer than 6 different suggestions for how to serve the product within. They recommend using it in soup, on ice cream, or as a poultry glaze, among others. Its uniqueness is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, TJ's Pumpkin Butter is versatile enough that you can use it to make almost anything taste like pumpkin. On the other hand, even if you find a bunch of different foods that you want to make taste like pumpkin, you find yourself doing little more than experimenting with a culinary tool that you're barely familiar with and don't fully understand. It's kind of like the Twitter of the kitchen-world: obviously there's a lot of potential there...but ultimately, what's the point?

Furthermore, if you wanted something like pumpkin ice cream, for example, it would probably be best to just buy Pilgrim Joe's Pumpkin Ice Cream—a product whose pumpkin-properties have been balanced and blended by professional ice cream folks, rather than creating your own haphazard version using Pumpkin Butter and whatever you've got kicking around in your freezer. Although some people might prefer creating their own ice cream so they can tailor the mixture to suit their own tastes...

Texture-wise, the product is not unlike apple butter. There's pureed pumpkin, sugar, and honey. It's very sweet, but traditional pumpkin spices are definitely there. We tried it on toast. It's okay by itself, but we found that the most palatable way to eat it was with some cream cheese. Not wanting to waste time, energy...and potentially food, we steered clear of creating things like Pumpkin Butter and sour cream soup. And I'm pretty sure our Thanksgiving turkey this year will not be basted in this stuff.

I can't deny that there's something fascinating about it. It's good to try something new once in a while. But I just can't figure out what niche this product should fill in my diet. It's certainly no replacement for apple butter, jams, or jellies. It's just a bit of novelty. Three stars.

Sonia feels the same way, but because all things pumpkin remind her of autumn, her favorite season, she couldn't help but enjoy it. She almost gave it four stars, but decided on three and a half.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10 stars.

18 comments:

  1. I love almost everything pumpkin but I found this too sweet. I was also expecting it to be a thicker consistency. We tried it on pancakes and waffles.

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  2. My breakfast every day last October was a serving of almond butter mixed with a big ol' scoop of this stuff, eaten with a spoon (although a ginger snap or something would have been amazing) and washed down with dark chocolate soy milk. It makes me swoony just thinking about it...

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  3. Have you tried Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Rooibus tea? I just got it $3.99 for a pretty tin full. ♥

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  4. This comment/suggestion isn't for the butter, but for the TJ's pumpkin ice cream you also mentioned above. Here's an awesome and simple seasonal treat. Buy some pumpkin ice cream and a box of the triple ginger cookie thins. Put a spoonful of ice cream between 2 cookies. It's DIVINE!!!

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  5. I think it's great with plain yogurt and granola, particularly unsweetened granola. It balances out the sweetness

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  6. I like it mixed in yogurt and on top of muesli.

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  8. Wow! So many great suggestions! This stuff is very sweet. Great recommendations for balancing out the sweetness. Thanks, everybody!

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  9. Have you tried the TJ's Pecan Pumpkin instant oatmeal? Like the other pumpkin stuff, it's probably only available in autumn, but I am going to stock up--it's that good!

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  10. I like this with peanut butter on a sandwich. I eat a lot of PB & J as well as PB & banana for breakfasts or a light lunch, but it can get a bit boring. I usually add cinnamon to my PB & banana sandwiches anyway, so with a PB & pumpkin butter sandwich I already have the cinnamon plus all the other yummy pumpkin pie spices.

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  11. Wow, Heather! That's an interesting idea: PB & pumpkin butter sandwiches...hmmm...

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  12. Gosh... you gotta try this on cinnamon-raisin bread. It's divine!

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  13. Oh that sounds good, Lynda! Thanks for the tip :)

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  14. I agree with the combo of pumpkin butter + peanut butter. I top a toasted waffle with the two PB's and it's wonderful!

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  15. I found your blog by searching for a Kao Soi recipe this morning. I followed the link because I love trader joes! I'll be reading through more but wanted to comment to let you k now I found you and am happy to have done so! I enjoy the pumpkin butter - just a little bit on an english muffin makes me happy. :)

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  16. I make unsweetened steel cut oats with apples and cranberries in it. I will throw a spoonful of this in my bowl and mix it all up. It is DIVINE!

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  17. Ummmmmm, I was so addicted to this stuff last fall, I could have had a jar for every meal! Seriously, my husband went shopping for the week, as I wasn't feeling so great....and he brought home FOUR jars of this stuff for me, as he knew I'd eat that no matter how sick I was, and he was right!!! Did you by chance get the pumpkin Bagels???!? Our stores were hit or miss with those, but toast them up, with some Kerry Gold Butter and Pumpkin Butter, and "you had me at hello".......

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