Thursday, April 30, 2009

Next to Godliness Auto Dish Soap

Price: $3.79
Features: Not very good at cleaning dishes, intriguing ingredients list
Found in: Cleaning / Bath Products

This Trader Joe's dishwasher detergent is "formulated to perform effectively while being safe for the environment." About that performing effectively part... I suppose it depends on what your standard for 'effective' is. Most name brand dishwasher soaps claim to be the most amazing thing on the market, not just effective. TJ's Auto Dish Soap sort of cops out before you even get going as the directions state to "presoak heavily soiled or baked on foods." Maybe I have seen too many years worth of advertising for other miracle and environmentally unfriendly products, but shouldn't a dishwasher be able to take care of really dirty dishes? Isn't that what the environmentalists say - don't prewash or you will end up using as much water as washing your dishes twice?

Let's go through the claims on the front of the bottle:
  • Biodegradable - Ok, I believe that.
  • Phosphate Free - True.
  • Chlorine Free - True.
  • Removes Dried on Foods - Mostly false.
  • Removes Tough Stains - Mostly false.
  • Built-in Rinse Aid - Ok...
  • Dries Spot Free - False, more like "dries on a nice foggy film."

I wanted to try this product because I was intrigued by the ingredients list: Vegetable and Coconut Derived Surfactants, Earth Salt, Citrus Based Water Softener, Corn Based Thickener, Vegetable Based Drying Agent, Lemon Oil, Water. I thought it would be cool to get clean dishes using coconut dishwasher soap. Well, that would be cool, but this product doesn't quite get there.

Several of the 'mates have mentioned dishes not coming out clean, having to be re-run, or hand washed. Nothing exceptional either, it really should be able to take care of a dirty coffee mug. You also have to fill the soap dispenser all the way up every time, not the case with other products.

I don't doubt that this soap is a lot more environmentally friendly than others. But, if you have to use more each time and it doesn't do a complete job, are you really coming out ahead? How about a little compromise: Use the other Trader Joe's Environmentally Sound Automatic Dishwashing Detergent. It is cheaper, works fabulously, and makes an effort to be easy on the environment.

Looks like I am developing a thing for reviewing soaps of all kinds from Trader Joe's. I'm not sure what the deal is...perhaps because they are usually 'next to Godliness'? Hmm...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pure Bourbon Vanilla Extract

Price: $4.99 (4 Oz)
Features: Ridiculous value.
Found in: Near baking supplies (not with the spices for some reason)

If you discover you are out of vanilla right when you want to bake something as I did (not sure when else that would be a real emergency), you better head to Trader Joe's! I challenge you, that's right - the gauntlet has been thrown, to find a better vanilla value anywhere. I doubt it can be done, even buying bulk and bringing your own container.

Purchasing vanilla extract in any other store is guaranteed to leave you with half as much vanilla for at least twice the price. Or, you might end up with some nasty artificial "vanilla" for about the same price. Both of these things are to be avoided, especially that last one!

Apparently this vanilla is Bourbon Vanilla because the French took some vanilla cuttings from Mexico to Ile de Bourbon in the 1800s. Wikipedia tells me Ile de Bourbon is east of Madagascar and is now Reunion. Huh, fun facts. In any case, this is some tasty extract!

I will admit that I purchased some Tahitian vanilla extract from TJ's several years ago and was not too impressed. That product isn't in my store anymore. The only other option was "alcohol-free" vanilla extract, which seems like a curious idea considering the mark of a good extract is generally a solid alcohol content. Good Eats taught me that vanilla has alcohol soluble flavor compounds. No alcohol in the production process means you are missing out. Maybe they can work around that somehow?

I've made two loaves of chocolate chip banana bread (delicious) and some whipped cream with this stuff so far. And there is still so much left...what to do next?

Now playing: Del Tha Funky Homosapien - What Is A Booty
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