Pink’s Red Chilli Jelly

Review by The Shepsters

Pink’s is a modern producer with links to a historic preserves company from the days of the British Empire.  This is reflected in the “winged orange” logo used by the company, an homage to the advertising poster for E & T Pink’s orange marmalade dated to 1890, which was founded by the one current Pink’s partnership’s great-grandfather.  An interesting pedigree, it must be said.

Pink’s produce a range of condiments – jelly, chutney, and pesto – using locally sourced ingredients where possible, and “made by hand in small batches, using open pans to ensure their quality.”

The product which we received for review is the ‘Red Chilli Jelly’. Jar kindly supplied by Pink’s.

First impression based on the packaging is that this is an appealing product.  The branding is prominent and clearly identifiable, and it is easy to pick out which product is which from the colour-coded labels.  There is a huge amount of information printed on the label, but most of it is of a very small font size and in pastel colours, meaning it is not easy to read – especially for someone with visual difficulties.  On the plus side, the jar is squat with a wide opening, making the product very easy to get to.

Ingredients: Sugar, water, lemon juice, garlic 4%, red chilli 4%, ginger 2%, acidity regulator: lactic acid, gelling agent: apple pectin.

The immediate hit on opening the jar is of garlic, the scent of which is so strong it can be tasted before anything even hits the tongue, followed by the sugar sweetness of the jelly.

The product looks very pretty – it is a semi-set jelly with a good amount of chilli flakes, seeds, and minced garlic clearly visible suspended in its depths.

Serving suggestions are to “use for dunking Thai Prawns, Prawn Toast or Thai Fishcakes. Spread thinly on Tortillas before filling or spice-up your Cold Meats and Cheeses”, so we tried using the jelly in several different ways to see how it works.

Cooked with fresh king prawns, it gave them a nice, sticky coating and the garlic worked very nicely with the dish.  However, despite the amount of chilli flakes visible in the product, neither the chilli, nor the ginger, was noticeable in the flavour notes at all.

Tried cold with cold meat and cheese we found the jelly to be excessively refined-sugar sweet, and the amount of garlic was overwhelming, lingering on the tongue in combination with a residual sweetness for much longer than was pleasant.  Again, the chilli and ginger were completely missing, both in terms of taste and heat.  The best taste experience for us was actually when pairing the jelly (sparingly) with goat’s cheese.

The product is described as a “red chilli jelly with garlic and ginger”.  We would describe it more as a sugar-and-garlic jelly with red chilli flake decoration, a combination which did not tickle this review team’s taste buds at all.

That said, Pink’s have been awarded a “Taste of the West” Silver medal (2011) and “Great Taste” (2013) accolade for this particular product, so clearly it is a hit with other people – just not with us.  Perhaps it’s one of those “marmite” products that each person needs to try for themselves to see if it works for them.

Pink’s ‘Red Chilli Jelly’ is available from their online shop priced at £4.00 per 220g jar.

Flavour 3/10
Heat 0/10
Packaging 5/10
Value 5/10
Overall 4/10

Burning Desire Foods’s Thunderbird Review

Review by The Shepsters

‘Thunderbird’ tequila hot sauce is a relative newcomer to the range of sauces from Brighton-based producer Jason Stevens’s company, Burning Desire Foods,  an award-winning company gaining the “Best UK Chilli Company 2013” at the Fiery Foods festival, which is hardly surprising if the info on the website is to be believed –products “made in small batches…” and containing only “the finest ingredients … chosen for their amazing individual heat, flavour and / or smell.”

It is also worth pointing out that “the sauces are completely vegan and do not contain any artificial colourings, flavourings, or preservatives.”  This is always a sign of good things to come.

Bottle kindly supplied by Burning Desire Foods.

The bottle follows the same distinctive branding style as the rest of the Burning Desires range, with good-sized red text on a gold label.  The only downside to this is that, while the gold labels look great against their warmer, darker coloured sauces, it is less prominent and eye-catching when the bottle contents are a similar golden-green colour.  However, we do like the Mayan thunderbird totem that has been used on the label, which clearly indicates to the customer that this is a sauce inspired by Mexican ingredients.

Ingredients: Jalapeno chillies, lime juice, onions, cucumber, cuevo gold tequila, cactus pulp, garlic, sea salt, habanero chillies, tequila essence (less than 3% alcohol).

On opening the bottle, the aroma of the sauce is sharp and – for want of a better word – ‘green’.  It is a very pleasant, citrus sharpness on the nose which immediately sets the mouth watering.

The sauce does have some body from the various vegetables in the ingredients, but the general texture is quite wet and loose, making it less suitable for use as a dipping sauce on its own but great as a recipe additive, a marinade, or a dressing.

Taste-wise, this is a fresh and sharp sauce, but not in the least bitter or sour.  There is a definite flavour of green jalapeno which has been balanced extremely well with the tequila and lime.  We found it worked extremely well as a marinade for a baked chicken dish, and can imagine it working equally well with a meaty white fish such as monkfish.  It is also great used as a shortcut for making fresh guacamole; nothing could be simpler – just add mashed avocado.  Sianne was particularly impressed with how ‘Thunderbird’ worked as a fast way to vastly improve a pot of shop-bought guacamole for the Christmas buffet, while John particularly enjoyed being able to taste the tequila in the sauce!

‘Thunderbird’ has a moderate heat level, with warmth from the tequila and a bit of a boost from being simply a mild jalapeno-type heat up to a medium spiciness from the inclusion of a little habanero.

This is a really interesting and different sauce, and we applaud Jason for his inventiveness with this product.  It is a refreshing change from the predominantly tomato or fruit-based sauces coming from the UK market, and we would recommend giving it a go for this reason if no other.  There is a danger at times that UK sauces can become somewhat indistinct from each other because of the similarity of ingredients used – a charge which can most definitely not be levelled at ‘Thunderbird’.

At the time of writing, ‘Thunderbird’ – along with many other products introduced to the range during 2013 – is still listed as “coming soon”, which means that it’s not available from the online shop.  However, news from Burning Desire is that the website is currently being updated, so ‘Thunderbird’ and all the other lovely new goodies will be available for online purchase very soon – keep checking the site for updates.  Expected purchase price is £5.00 for a 150ml / 5fl. oz. bottle, in line with the rest of the sauces in the range.

In the meantime, if you really can’t wait, we’re sure that you would be able to make arrangements to buy by sending a message to Burning Desire via the contact form on their website – or grab a bottle from Hot-Headz.

Flavour 9/10
Heat 4/10
Packaging 7/10
Value 7/10
Overall 8/10

The Chillihunter’s Widow’s Tipple Review (with youtube video)

Review by Darth Naga bottle supplied by The Chillihunter

How it going chilli padawans? Darth Naga here again coming at ya with a new video review, and my FIRST for Chilli Fiends, the spiritual successor to the chilefoundry; it’s all the same reviewers, just a new place on the web for us all to live!

Anyway, as my first video review I thought I’d not only do a mild-ish sauce, but also rope my girlfriend in for her first video review! I chose this sauce because it’s been made by a good friend of mine Ady King, you might all know him as “The Chillihunter” over at www.facebook.com/thechillihunter.

He too is a reviewer of sauces, but back in September 2013 he won the amateur sauce making competition at the Fiery Foods UK festival in Brighton, the prize of course as some of you might know was to make his sauce in a larger batch, with nice printed labels an everything, and this is mine and Lisa’s review of that sauce!

Ingredients: Malt vinegar, bell peppers, sugar, criolla sella, aji lemon, mango, tequila, mustard, apricot, salt, lime, onion, mint.

So, the sauce itself known as “Widow’s Tipple” is a yellow almost mustardy colour, comes in a standard 150ml bottle reminiscent of Chilli Pepper Pete’s own bottles (probably because it was made at their unit!) and has a very spooky label, adorned with both the sauce name and the chilli hunters own logo.

Upon opening the bottle I’m immediately reminded of the mango content, but looking at the savoury ingredients too I’m not convinced this is going to be an entirely sweet sauce, but hey, watch the video and you guys can see for yourselves what myself and Lisa thought of it:

So there you have it! As you can see myself and Lisa found the chillihunters sauce to be well worth your coin, and at only £3.95 a bottle from his store, you’d be mad not to buy some, it’s great for madhatters and noobs alike, and probably has a wide range of uses due to the complex flavours within! (On a side note, I’m also reliably informed by Ady that there are only 20 bottles left, and once it’s gone, it’s GONE!!)

So, another review from yours truly, a first for Chilli Fiends and of course a first for my lovely girlfriend, Lisa (but certainly not the last!) not much more to say now my chilli padawans except that I will see you all on the dark-side, and until that moment, may the sauce be with you, always!!

Flavour 8/10
Heat 3/10
Packaging 7/10
Value 8/10
Overall 7/10

Capsicana Chilli Co Ltd – Habanero Sauce Review

Review by Clare Cameron and provided by Capsicana

I hadn’t tried any of the Capsicana sauces range so I was pleased to receive the Habanero sauce. Non extract habanero sauces are my favourite kind of sauce. With 26% habanero, this sauce is full of flavour without being too overpowering. It has a great fresh taste and vibrant colour which looks good on any dinner plate.

Ingredients: Chillies (including 26% habanero) (39%) barley malt vinegar, water, salt, cornflour, spices (including mustard) stabiliser: xanthan gum.

I have used this product as a dipping sauce and find it goes well with chips, steak and chicken to name but a few. As well as a table condiment the label advises the sauce can be used as cooking ingredient, seasoning and marinade for meat, fish and vegetables. Normally I try products in a variety of different ways before reviewing but I found the sauce had a perfect consistency and flavour when used as a table condiment so was happy to review on that basis alone.

The packaging looks striking with a black background, white font and flashes of red on the chillies. The heat is indicated by the amount of chillies and is consistent amongst the Capsicana sauce range.

The website describes it as ‘Tangy, fruity & fresh’ and I agree with this 100%. They do a range of sauces, from burrito sauce rated at heat level one chilli to Hot Bhut Jolokia at heat level five chillies ++. This sauce is priced at £3.70 which I feel is exceptional value for a 150ml sauce with such a great flavour , it is clear that this sauce is handmade in small batches by its flavour and quality. To find out more check out Capsicana‘s website.

Flavour 9/10
Heat 7.5/10
Packaging 8/10
Value 8/10
Overall 8.5/10

Grim Reaper’s Sanctuary Review.

Review by Lady ‘Cin.

Many of you already know of Grim Reaper foods. Many of you are drawn into Russel’s lair at shows with the awesome branding and table top display full of skulls and daring. As eye catching as his display ware is, the sauces you try tell all the tales of hard work and deserving. Having amassed twenty five plus years as a chef, Russel uses all that know how to develop his next products, using only the finest ingredients and UK sourced produce, he aims to give you that amazing warm sensation within every bottle.

Ingredients: Mustard Seed, Water, Malt Vinegar, Bourbon (8%), Honey, Chipotle Chilli (3%), Wasabi (1%), Salt. Contains Mustard and Gluten. Jar Purchased from Grim Reaper Foods.

What can I say about this 180g jar of mustard? Well, it’s clean, simple and attractive clear label allows you to see exactly what is inside, all the way around. The white lettering and the modest skull sitting on the front of the jar evokes a ‘let the product speak for itself’ sort of appeal. I like that! Tiny mustard seeds sit together, encompassed in a light yellow liquid, just waiting to be tasted. The mustard is very thick, almost spoon bendingly (bendingly, is that a word?).

It will stay quite happily on the edge of a knife or spoon and defy gravity for a while. The scent is a blend of tangy chipotle and whiskey. There is a little whiff of vinegar, but it isn’t strong enough to inhibit any other flavour getting through.

The texture is full of seeds, thick and delightful to roll around the mouth. The first flavour is a definite mustard/bourbon double whammy. I get a warming feeling around my mouth. Not being much of a drinker, I’m not sure whether or not that is from the bourbon or the chipotle chilli, or perhaps it’s a combination of both, but the smoky aftertaste is a dead giveaway for chipotle. I can taste a slight wasabi feel in my nostrils. This is a very subtle flavour which is just a reminder that this mustard is more than meets the eye. There is also a little sweetness to this mustard that is a little unusual. It’s a good thing.  Barely noticeable but really pulls the flavours together and helps spread the smoky warm feeling all around the mouth.

What would I use this on? Well, anything you’d require mustard for; on a plain hotdog (because you don’t want that plain yellow nonsense that you squeeze from a bottle!), next to your steak and chips.  Have a go at stirring it into a chilli con carne for a little extra pop of smokiness. Use in mash, on your sarnies. Cheese will never be dull again! Dip your fish fingers in. Use instead of ketchup or brown sauce in your bacon (or not-bacon in my case) sandwiches …

Available from Grim Reaper Foods directly for £3.95 on its own, or treat yourself to the ‘Boozy Mustard™ Trio’ where you get three mustards for only £11.50! What’s not to love!

Flavour 8/10
Heat 2/10
Packaging 9/10
Value 10/10
Overall 9/10

East Midlands Chilli Festival – August 2014

For ages Midlanders have looked North and South and seen half a dozen different festivals compared to the meagre pickings of the area. However, this summer, local growers ChilliBobs Chilli Farm has organised the first ever “East Midlands Chilli Festival” at the Newark Showground in Nottinghamshire!

This event will be held over the weekend of 16th & 17th of August for chilli lovers and non-chilli lovers alike. There will be something for everyone, including the children. As said by Chilli Bob himself: “we want to make this an inclusive event that becomes a true calendar favourite for everybody.”

To achieve this, there will be an impressive line-up of over sixty stalls selling everything from edible plants such as chillies and herbs, condiments and ceramics, to cakes, clothes and street food (spicy and non-spicy).

For a small entrance fee, children will enjoy free entertainment such as face painting, Punch & Judy, bouncy castle, and even a doughnut or lemon eating competition on stage.

For the budding chilli heads, there will be cookery and plant cultivation demonstrations and the infamous chilli eating competition. There will also be the great Chilli Cook-Off, for which the event is a qualifier for the prestigious International Finals held in Las Vegas in early 2015.

On the Saturday, after music all day from local bands and musicians, in the evening there will also be a ticket-only music festival. Here, you can listen to a variety of music until midnight, whilst enjoying the street food and drink and the best the stalls have to offer.

Sunday is the day that the teams will be fighting it out in the Great Chilli Cook-Off. Teams of one to five people have to create one gallon of chilli-con-carne (or con-veggie J ) over a four hour period, which will be judged at the end. The winning and runner-up teams will qualify for the national UK finals in September. The celebrated National winners get the chance to go to Las Vegas for the international finals in November – so get your entry in on the website now!

For those who want to make a weekend of it, there will be camping /caravan facilities in the showground at very reasonable prices.

For more information and to book online, visit:  http://http://www.em-chillifest.co.uk/ for an early bird discount or simply pay at the gate on the day.

Simpson’s Seeds Peachy Peachy Review

Review by David Kelly

Matt Simpson is well known in the chilli community as a gardening enthusiast and expert chilli grower. His company Simpson’s Seeds, have been supplying chilli seeds and plants for many years from there nursery in The Walled Garden Nursery in Horningsham. Matt also makes a variety of sauces from him home grown chillies and his efforts always focused towards making good tasting sauces that work with the natural flavours of the particular chilli(es) used therein.

As with his other sauces, the labelling for Peachy Peachy is functional and simple: a plain white label and black font with PeachyPeachyjust the product info & ingredient. Nothing glitzy or gimmicky here, just the basics.

Ingredients:  Onions, Peach Juice, Chillies (Peach Habaneros 20%), White Wine Vinegar, Sugar, Peaches, Salt

Bottle kindly supplied by Simpson’s Seeds

The sauce is an orangey golden toffee colour and on opening the lid it smells of lightly roasted onion with fruity overtones and a hint of sharpness (from the white wine vinegar) in the background. The sauce has a very smooth almost syrup like consistency and pours easily from bottle onto my tasting spoon. There is an initial taste of sweetness – a combination of caramelised onions and peach juice – but it’s not overly sweet. I was expecting the flavour of the peach juice to dominate this sauce but Matt has balanced it well so that whilst the onion taste is more dominant, the addition of the peach juice gives a pleasant mild underlying sweetness.

Shortly thereafter the robust flavour from the habaneros becomes apparent and their heat spreads rapidly around the front of my mouth and lips – probably not particularly helped by the fact that the sauce leaves a slight stickiness on the lips causing you to lick them. Indeed I find the sauce has such a lovely flavour that easily becomes very moreish and leads to a lip-smacking experience with really nice burn to back it up.

This is such a simple, cleaned flavoured sauce that it makes an ideal condiment to use in many ways:  as a glaze over wings or ribs, drizzled on salads or noodles or even used in a wrap or sarnie. Once again it proves that a lot of ingredients aren’t needed to make a great tasting sauce – a few base ingredients can go a long way.

With all of his creations being made from his own chillies, each sauce is made in small batches and therefore effectively limited editions at a standard price of £4 per bottle. Whilst currently this sauce isn’t available directly from the website, limited quantities may still be available directly from their shop.

Flavour 7.5/10
Heat 6/10
Packaging 4/10
Value 7/10
Overall 7/10

The cycle of life

Finite.

This is a word that shouldn’t be hidden away. Unfortunately with our limited mortality eventually everything has to have an end.

The Universe is a remarkable thing though and with every death comes the recycle of life and that is what we are experiencing with The Chilli Fiends, a site that we hope will be able to continue to bring you similar chilli content. Sadly the Chile Foundry is no more, however, the brave heat warriors of old have been prepared to start anew – we are prepared to continue and fly the flag. We will continue to endure the burn where others have feared to tread.

The crew are just as eager as ever to bring you the most honest reviews that we can and to build once again to a position where we are the definitive resource for all things related to all things hot.

All of us here thank Chris at Chile Foundry for his hard work and his support of Chilli Fiends – I hope that you’ll also support us in this difficult transition.

Marty