Tried & Tested: Going for a dip

Dips are perfect for staving off hunger pangs at drinks parties, and the best communal food for impromtu gatherings; and pre-packed dip selections eliminate the need for all that endless pureeing and mashing. But how do you know which is fit for your carrot stick? Ian Davies, Poppy Lanos, Katie Deane and Vicki Eddington sort the dip delights from the disasters

.... SAINSBURY'S SPICY DIP SELECTION pounds 1.99, four individual 125g tubs

An unconventional selection of spicy mango, soured cream and herb, korma and jalapeno chilli dips. Testers liked the combination of flavours and gave them top marks for consistency. Only the packaging let the side down.

Ian Davies: "Dip heaven! Sweet, spicy and cooling alternatives in the one pack. All of them were delicious."

Poppy Lanos: "The korma dip tastes a bit like coronation chicken, but that's no insult. Soured cream goes perfectly with the jalapeno."

Katie Deane: "Easy to scoop up with tortilla chips and no runny moments. Ideal if you want to get away from the more traditional concoctions."

..... HARRODS FRESH DIPS pounds 1.49-pounds 2.59, individual 142g tubs

Jazzy packaging and fresh ingredients impressed testers and the taste lived up to expectations. Guacamole, spicy pinto bean, avocado houmous and houmous were were rich, fresh and tasty. The clear winner.

Poppy Lanos: "The plain houmous was by far the best in the trial. The spicy pinto bean just tasted like a super-smooth version of it."

Katie Deane: "The freshest tasting dips; thickly luxurious. A bit rich for some palates, but stylish packaging makes them good to show off with."

Ian Davies: "The guacamole is very green and very good: reason enough to have a party. In the dip world it seems you get what you pay for."

... YARDEN pounds 1.29-pounds 2.79, individual 145g-500g tubs

Houmous, aubergine dip, guacamole and taramasalata were dipped into from the Yarden deluxe range (0181 550 8000). Surprising tastes provoked mixed reactions, but overall they were deemed enjoyable, middle-of-the- range deli-fare.

Ian Davies: "Woody-tasting houmous topped with peculiar-looking parsley. A bit too authentic for those reared on the supermarket variety."

Poppy Lanos: "Generally good: the taramasalata was exactly how I like it - very pink and smooth."

Katie Deane: "The runny guacamole reminded me of pond slime, but the rough texture of the houmous made it more interesting, and the aubergine was good. More than respectable."

... TESCO FRESH MULTIPACK CLASSIC DIPS pounds 1.89, four individual 100g tubs

Four classic flavours: onion and garlic, cheese and chive, ham and mustard and Thousand Island. Testers were unexcited by the selection, which was considered best-suited to informal occasions.

Ian Davies: "Lack of individual portions could provoke some squabbling, and the onion in the onion & garlic appeared to have gone Awol, but apart from that, a pretty good all-rounder."

Vicki Eddington: "Good range of flavours, but spoiled by sloppy consistency and poor nutritional information. Pretty average."

Katie Deane: "Top-notch Thousand Island - all it needs is a crustacean or two added."

. ASDA DIP SELECTION

pounds 1.79, four individual 100g tubs

The dips in this multipack, containing garlic and herb, cheese and chive, Thousand Island and Mexican dips were synthetic, bland and overpriced (even at pounds 1.79). The only plus-point was the lack of dripping.

Katie Deane: "Highly ordinary, gloopy dips which stuck to my tortillas and felt unpleasant in the mouth. Definitely not impressed."

Ian Davies: "The Mexican dip has certainly never been anywhere near the Yucatan peninsula. It's alive, but hardly kicking."

Poppy Lanos: "A reasonable budget selection: the garlic and herb was tangy enough, but the Thousand Island was worryingly neon."

.. MARKS & SPENCER VEGETARIAN DIP SELECTION

pounds 1.99, four individual 125g tubs

A selection of cheddar and onion, onion and herb, soured cream and chive, and Thousand Island, made with creme fraiche, soured cream and yoghurt. The selection was criticised for being bland and rather heavy: a general thumbs-down.

Ian Davies: "The Thousand Island was fine, but where's the flavour, let alone the onion, in the cheddar and onion?"

Poppy Lanos: "Plasticky and slightly tasteless, but bland enough not to offend anyone's palate."

Vicki Eddington: "Apart from the soured cream, they all tasted heavily processed. But amounts are generous and they do hold their consistency."

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