How many times have you made Grandma’s _____ that just didn’t taste right? Despite following that worn recipe card and Grandma’s instructions to a tee, you can’t match hers. Sure, it’s good, but it isn’t the same.
As the holidays approach and people tackle the ol’ family favorites, find comfort knowing that it may not be faulty cooking skills or ingredient degradation.
It’s weight out.
Weight out, the clever little maneuver food manufactures use to keep prices reasonable on store shelved under cost pressures. For instance, you usually pay $1.99 for a bag of sugar, but transportation, labor, materials and sugar cane costs have risen. Marketers have two options to protect margins. Increase the cost to retailers which leads to higher shelf prices or “weight out” the package to keep prices flat. In this example, your 5lb bag of sugar is now 4lbs. Go ahead and take a look.
Weight out is an ethical and pragmatic plan. HOWEVER, it can screw up Grandma’s macaroni recipe which calls for “one block of sharp cheddar cheese.” I’ve noticed Kraft’s Cracker Barrel went from 10 to 8 ounces and my gut tells me it started at 12.
The result, “Not as cheesy as Grandma’s.”
Even the recent innovation Rozoni’s Smart Taste high fiber pasta has dwindled down by 2oz.
Aside from brand weight outs, back of package recipes change overtime. For instance, the sleepy Washington Indian Head Cornmeal’s seemingly unwavering corn bread recipe which had lard/ shortening as an ingredient now calls for oil. You better believe there are lightyears of flavor lost in that tweak.
My professional advice is to take pictures of recipes which detail measurements. It may mean you need to buy 3 packs in the future, but you’ll keep Grandma’s recipes intact for generations to come.
Note To Reader: I use grandma metaphorically in this posting. Both my grandmothers, notoriously superb cooks, passed away before I was born. I always hope and wish that my cooking would meet their standards and approval.