South Devon Chilli Farm Chilli Jam Review

Review by James Fowkes – Jar kindly supplied by South Devon Chilli Farm

South Devon Chilli Farm’s story has been well documented in the media over the last few years, including features by BBC Gardeners World, BBC Radio 4, BBC News 24, BBC Spotlight News, Westcountry TV News, Saturday Telegraph, Sunday Times, Amateur Gardener Magazine, Devon Life, The Daily Express, Western Morning News and BBC Good Food Magazine to name just a few. The company and farm are also a favourite of TV chef Jamie Oliver too.

The team at the farm have been growing chillies on an increasingly large scale since 2003. Now over ten thousand chilli plants each year are grown and they harvest tonnes of fresh chillies. Most of their chillies grown go straight into their own range of chilli sauces, preserves and chilli chocolate.

I have also been fortunate to visit the farm and the onsite farm shop and café too. I would highly recommend a stop here if you are passing through. Unfortunately I was out of season on my visit so there was not much to see but I did leave with a full bag of chilli goodies from the shop. The café also offers great views out across the farm while enjoying a meal and sampling your new sauces.

Every product sold in their range proudly displays the simple yet very cool logo of the South Devon Chilli Farm. This Chilli Jam is no exception with a basic white labelsouth devon chilli jam covering half the jar allowing you to easily see the sticky goodness and occasional chilli seen inside.

Ingredients: Red Peppers (40%), red onions, Lemon Puree, Fresh Chilli (1%)

The Chilli Jam I have to review has won a couple of awards and is South Devon Chilli Farms best seller. I have tried many different home made chilli jams and a few jams at various festival tasting sessions, but I have not really had a whole jar to myself before. This Jam is prepared with 40g of fruit per 100g so I’m expecting a decent true pepper taste rather than synthetic flavouring of some store bought versions. Opening the jar smell that greets your senses is a little like an onion chutney with a hint of red pepper. The consistency in the jar and on my spoon is also a little more chutney than solid jelly based jam I am use to from other store bought jams.

Priced at £3.57 for each 227g jar or six jars for £19.00, the naturally luminous red jam spreads effortlessly across my morning bagel. It’s lovely to see lots of little chilli seeds have made it onto the portion I have just spread too. Thankfully there aren’t hundreds of seeds in the jar to catch your teeth on rather just enough to add character and flavour.

This Jam tastes wonderful, I would go so far as to say one of the best basic jams I have ever tasted, very addictive to the point of consuming almost half a jar while writing this review!  Coming to the name ‘chilli jam,’ this jam is made of peppers and yes it does contain chilli however if you after something to pimp up the heat of your breakfast this isn’t the product for you. You can feel and taste a hint of chilli in the background that adds to the wonderful overall package. Also if you concentrate hard there is a pleasant lingering heat sensation after you have tried some too. But with only 1% chilli what did you expect right?

I can see why this Jam has won taste awards, though calling it chilli jam may be correct it may be considered a little cheeky by some. I wouldn’t stop at the obvious addition to breakfast though and try using this jam with cheese, eggs, fish, cold meat and chicken too.

For more information and other products from South Devon Chilli Farm, why not take a visit of their website?

Flavour 9/10
Heat 1/10
Packaging 6/10
Value 8/10
Overall 8/10

Todd Wilbur’s Top Secret Recipes Hell Flakes Review

Review by Clare Cameron – product supplied by Todd Wilbur’s Top Secret Recipes

First things first, I love the packaging. It is clear from the offset that this is an American product. The imagery of a chef with horns and the pitchfork is playful yet indicative that this product is hot. A pale red label with flames serves as a background with the white block font giving you details. I like the subtle way it advertises the other Top Secret Recipes products and a handy link gives details of cookbooks and recipes.

Ingredients: Dried Chilli Peppers

The product is extremely versatile, I have had this on pizza, potatoes, mushrooms, pasta, and chicken. I can’t think of anything this product wouldn’t work with. I was particularly surprised by how good this went with Portobello mushrooms; it seasons the mushrooms better than salt or pepper and complimented them really well Hell Flakeswithout being overpowering.

Overall I really like this product, it seems to last and last it is a really great blend and the label advises me ‘A fiery five-pepper blend. Starts sweet, finishes hot! I would however like to know what the blend is. I have done some research online and found it contains bell peppers and Habanero as it sweet and hot peppers, it would be good for this to be on the label so us chilliheads know which varieties are used. Some other variations at different levels of heat would be good. A ghost pepper or Carolina Reaper version would be interesting.

This seems to be a fairly established brand in the US but relatively unheard of in the UK, created by Todd Wilbur who is the host of Top secret recipe and author of Ten Top Secret Recipes cookbooks. I think one of the highlights of this is that it doesn’t contain salt, so many grinders and shakers do which is a shame when you want maximum heat but no salt.

Top Secret Recipes offers books, recipes and spices on their website. To find out more check out their comprehensive website

Flavour 7.5/10
Heat 6/10
Packaging 8/10
Value N/A
Overall 7.5/10

Westland Peppers Hot BBQ Sauce Review

Review by James Fowkes – Bottle kindly supplied by Westland Peppers

One sunny Bank holiday weekend I had the pleasure of reviewing a product from Westland Peppers in the Netherlands, their Hot BBQ sauce.

Westland Peppers is a family business that was started in 1930 by Mr. Henry Boekestijn. He started cultivating including grapes, peaches, leeks and cauliflower. Henry Boekestijn was succeeded by his son Piet Boekestijn. Meanwhile, the three sons of P. Boekestijn: Henk, Dolf and Pieter were able to develop into a company with a wide assortment of peppers and various special peppers. This range is available all year round. The company is located in two locations in Westland. A company in Gravenzande the Maasdijk and the second company in De Lier to Mayor Crezeelaan, hence the name Westland Peppers.

This bottles design has a nice wide neck for optimal ‘glooping’ of sauce where ever you choose. The label has wonderful farm feel to its design with a papery texture, some nice comical text, and a bit of heritage displayed with the company name and ‘since 1930’ printed just underneath. The size and shape of both thewestland peppers bbq sauce label and bottle also allow you to see the wonderful thick looking contents within,

Ingredients: Lemon Habanero, Orange snack peppers, vinegar, sugar, garlic, sea salt, pepper, ginger syrup, herbs and spices.

With the British BBQ season in full swing in-between storms this product seemed the obvious choice to test out with my next outdoor meal. The first thing that made me curious was my association of BBQ sauce usually being brown in colour accompanied generally by a smoky flavour. This sauce is a glowing orange and there are no percentages next to the ingredients, could this be one giant pile of habaneros? The second point was the ingredient ‘snack peppers’. Looking around online this appears to be a common sweet little pepper with no heat level to speak of. ‘Snack Pepper’ also appears to be translated from a Czech word that children use meaning “yum yum”. With the Westland site hinting that these snack peppers are main ingredients of the sauce I am picturing a sweet distinct flavour that slowly turned into a lasting spicy habanero. Sounds a perfect match to me!

Opening the Jar your senses are greeted with a glorious sticky, sweet, peppery flavour. You can see large chunks of what I assume to be the mixed up habaneros and snack peppers. The taste is simply divine! Fresh, sweet, sharp a sense of the vinegar in the background and a hint of ginger to tantalise the taste buds but not overpower any of the peppers or habanero. There is heat on the first mouthful but not too much while you are distracted with the sweet flavours the intense fruity heat of the habanero gently builds to a wonderful crescendo of an experience. Immediately I was diving in for more, covering my food in the stuff, adding to burgers, salads, potatoes everything my BBQ plate had to offer. In fact the bottle only lasted that meal it was so tasty. This is perhaps not a BBQ sauce itself but a mixed version of a relish and a sauce combined great for BBQs. I don’t really care what Westland Peppers call it as long as I can have some more of it. I can’t recommend this highly enough!

Not too sure where you can pick this up in the UK but you can purchase direct from Westland Peppers here for a mere 3.95 Euros, cheaper than most UK sauces available! (Excluding the inevitable postage of course). Drop them a line at their Twitter for more details.

Flavour 10/10
Heat 6/10
Packaging 9/10
Value 10/10
Overall 10/10

The Great Dorset Chilli Festival Ticket Competition & Info

With the chilli festival season well under way (see our calendar for a list of the various events) there will be plenty of places to go and try out the latest hot sauces, or to challenge yourself in a chilli eating competition. One of the big festivals is the Great Dorset Chilli Festival, which is now in its fourth year.

In conjunction with Chilli Fiends, the Great Dorset Chilli Festival is giving you the chance to win a one day family pass for free entry to the event on either the Saturday 2nd or Sunday 3rd of August (but you will need to travel there under your own steam). All you need do is follow @ChilliFiends and @GrtDorsetChilli and Tweet the following in your Twitter timeline:

“@ChilliFiends @GrtDorsetChilli I will brave the fiery heat. The Great Dorset Chilli Festival 2nd/3rd Aug #iwantowin”

The competition is open from now until the end of Friday 25th July, the winner will be selected at random and announced shortly afterwards.

Need more details on what entertainment the festival will provide? Then carry on reading, we have all the information you need below. Sadly there is no camping over the weekend on site, but tickets can be purchased in advance should you not be a Chilli Fiends winner on the Great Dorset Chilli Festival website, so long as you do so before 28th July.

Great Dorset Chilli Fest

Competition of all kinds is heating up for the Great Dorset Chilli Festival this year, taking place on the first weekend of August in the beautiful surroundings of the Earl of Shaftesbury’s St Giles Park.  From cook-offs to chilli eating, and sauce to plants, professional and amateur chilli lovers alike will be doing battle to take home a coveted red rosette.  For those new to the scene, expert chilli growers and chefs will be on hand to offer top tips and demonstrations … this year’s novices could be next year’s winners.

This year, the Great Dorset Chilli Festival team have once again joined forces with the UK Chilli Cook-off Association to create this regional heat of the national chilli cook-off competition.  The cook-off will be held on the Sunday of the 2 day Festival, and those who believe they can cook the best chilli in Dorset are encouraged to enter.  The rules are simple: teams have four hours to cook a gallon of chilli-con-carne (or vegetarian chilli) from scratch, using their own combination of ingredients and spices.  The winner goes forward to the national finals, with the national winner competing in Las Vegas in the Chilli class of the World Food Championships.  Don’t feel like cooking?  Don’t worry!  The chilli festival visitors will get to taste the entries by paying a donation to the CLIC Sargent children’s cancer charity in exchange for a sampling spoon.

Those with green fingers have already been nurturing chilli plants for several months, ahead of the annual chilli plant competition on Saturday 2nd August.  Amateur growers are welcome to enter their plants into either the open class or the Numex Twilight variety class, exclusively for specimens of this striking ornamental chilli.   Experts from Sea Spring Seeds, Simpsons Seeds and Amateur Gardening magazine will select the winner of each class on Saturday afternoon, and each will be awarded a £50 garden centre voucher.   Meanwhile, the pros, namely Dorset-based chilli and vegetable seeds specialists, Sea Spring Seeds, will be displaying only the very best examples of this year’s crop in the Chilli Plant Exhibition tent.

Often dubbed as the highlight of the day, the Chilli Eating Competition will be testing the limits of even the most hardened chilli-heads.  Brave competitors will subject themselves to ten rounds of increasingly hot chillies, which they have to consume in its entirety before they progress to the next round.  The last man or woman standing will be crowned the winner.  Willing volunteers need to email to request an application form ahead of the event.

For those who like it hot, but don’t like to have an audience, the Tasting Tent will be the ideal destination.  Professional producers will be going head-to-head to discover who creates the best chilli sauces, chilli jam and spicy chutney, and it’s up to the public to decide!  A blind tasting will give visitors a flavour for what is on offer to try and buy from the many stall holders.  Organisers are exceptionally proud to introduce their brand new 2014 Great Dorset Chilli Festival sauce, exclusively created by The Upton Cheyney Chilli Co.  But sauces and condiments won’t be the only things on sale; a huge variety of traders will be selling everything from local cheeses to chilli seeds, and ceramic kitchenware to English sparkling wine.

With all these fresh ingredients on offer, expert chefs will be showing how to use them in the Demonstration Tent.  Focus will be on creating excellent family suppers using chillies, showcasing home-cooking at its best.  New for this year, White Pepper Cookery School’s very own expert on Japanese cuisine will be talking to visitors on Saturday, whilst Christine McFadden of Dorset Foodie fame will be sharing her ‘hot’ tips on Sunday.  Any budding competitors for next year’s Chilli Cook-Off mustn’t miss Cook-Off Organiser, Jon Doody, who will be sharing his insider tips on how to make the best chilli-con-carne.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, there will be plenty of family entertainment throughout the weekend; falconry flying displays, fire breathing, and performances by Alfredo the Magician.  For hands on fun, there will be face painting, tree climbing, carriage rides, bouncy castles, and a caricaturist.  For the ‘big kids’, there will once again be a great selection of performers in the music tent, including Dorset skiffle band Quinns Quinney and The Montgomerys.  The beer and cider tent will quench thirsts, with the help of the brand new cocktail tent.

It almost goes without saying that there will be an amazing selection of the very best artisan food producers and spicy street food vendors.  With even more caterers attending this year, there will be something to suit the spicy and less-spicy palate alike; from vegetarian and gluten-free snacks and curries, to gourmet sandwiches and exotic tagines.  If you feel the need to cool off, Dorset-based Purbeck Ice Cream will be on hand with their delicious offering, whilst others will be serving up everything from frozen yogurt to traditional French crêpes.

The development of the Dorset Naga, at one time reputed to be the world’s hottest chilli, has really put Dorset on the map for chilli enthusiasts, so be sure not to miss this fun, friendly festival guaranteed to be Dorset’s hottest event!  Advance reduced price tickets are on sale now, so head to the website to pick one up!

The Chillees No. 5 Sauce Review

Review by David Kelly – Bottle kindly supplied by The Chillees

Based in Taunton, Somerset, The Chillees is a small artisan business run by the husband and wife team of Nick & Fran Lee (hence the word play on chillies). Although a relative new comer to UK chilli festival scene, they have been making a select range of sauces, chutneys and jams for some time. After years of making homemade preserves Fran started selling her products at local farmers markets in 2012 under the Bumblees Preserves brand. From those roots and after embracing Nick’s penchant for chillies, they’ve branched out to ‘The Chillees’ brand, where they use their home grown chillies in a range of chilli themed products.

Nick and Fran use a 1-5 chilli rating for the heat scale on their product range and until recently their hottest product was only rated as 4 out of 5. ‘No. 5’ was created to address the void at the top end of their heat scale and is so named because customers kept enquiring about the existence of a number 5 rated sauce.

Labelling on the bottle is straightforward and uncluttered, with a side banner chilli graphic and the red ‘The Chillees’ and ‘No. 5’ logo offset on a white background. A nice inventive touch on the label is the inclusion of a QR code that takes you directly to the product on the Chillees website.

Ingredients: Tomatoes, Onions, Red Wine Vinegar, Red Habanero Chillies (11%), Orange, Scorpion Chillies (3%), The Chilees No 5 sauceGarlic, Sea Salt

The aroma released when opening the bottle has overtones of tomato, roasted onion and garlic, with some subtle sharpness from the vinegar. There is also the characteristic floral tone from the Butch T and Trinidad Moruga Scorpion chillies used in the mix – you sense what the impending burn strength of this sauce will be just from the intensity of this fragrance.

Available from directly from The Chillees website at £3.50 for a 148ml bottle, the deep carrot orange coloured sauce pours easily from the bottle and within its body there is some fleshy pulp with tiny pieces of red chilli and garlic suspended in it. Its taste on the mouth is remarkably much like it smells – there’s the naturally sweet combination of the roasted tomatoes, onion and garlic mixed in with the distinctive floral flavour of the Scorpion chillies. The addition of the orange brings a slight hint of citrus into the mix that helps to cut through and separate these opposing flavours, without being overwhelming.

The heat from the chillies kicks in almost instantaneously. What starts off as a momentary generous warmth rapidly moves up several notches and the deluge of pain begins to encase my mouth with consummate ease. Unlike Nagas which have a delayed burn effect, the Scorpion chillies) have a much quicker ignition time before their effect is felt. This initial burn soon becomes a war of pain on two fronts as it also begins to grab the back of my throat too, whilst continuing to increase in effect within my mouth. Soon my mouth is also producing drool, a natural body reaction to excess concentrations of capsaicin. This is something which only ever seems to happen to me when I’m eating habanero chilli types so given the higher potency of the habanero chillies in this sauce, it’s not a surprisingly occurrence.

Given the ingredients used therein I think this would go great added to a chilli or an Italian Ragu sauce but equally (having tried it on them) it works well as a condiment sauce on the humble burger and bacon sarnie. Just remember that a relatively small amount of this sauce will go a long way in giving a satisfying kick to any ardent chillihead.

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

Lily’s Chillies Limited Edition Chilli Marmalade Review

Review by James Fowkes – Jar kindly supplied by Lily’s Chillies

Lily’s Chillies are a husband and wife team with the company named after their daughter. Like many Sussex and UK companies, Lily’s Chillies pride themselves on locally sourced ingredients. Something different I noted in the production of many of their jelly range is the use of apples from local Sussex orchards as the base for many of their jellies rather than the vinegar used by more commercial companies. This time though I have the pleasure of reviewing a chilli marmalade which has won their first commendation at the World’s Marmalade Awards!

The Jar looks a combination of very professional while at the same time maintaining a home-made feel with the style of the jar chosen allowing you to see the product inside clearly. As I have mention in other reviews the label is basic, but attractive following the same theme throughout their range. There is no need for fancy pictures on this one, you just want to know what’s in the jar then eat it! On this particular label you will find the words:

On a cold wet February day we slaved over a simmering pan of Seville oranges to bring you this deluxe marmalade, laced with Lily's Chillies Chilli MarmaladeHabeñeros, so you can kick start your morning every day”

Ingredients: Seville Oranges 60%, sugar, Habeñero chillies (1%)

I should probably start this review off by saying I have never been a fan of marmalade and never buy any for use at home as I have always found it to be quite a boring flavour. I am hoping Lily’s have worked their usual magic to bring simplicity and flavour to yet another fine creation.

The clear jar allows you to see the marmalade is full of large pieces of the Seville orange that will certainly add a zest to the taste. Opening the jar, despite being obvious, you are left in no doubt that this is an orange based product with a strong wonderful aroma that will help to wake you up. The actual consistency of the marmalade is a little more watery than I expected, perhaps this is because I have only had cheap marmalade before? This is not an issue though; it just meant you had to be a little quicker with your spreading knife! I used the marmalade on a toasted bagel to try and kick-start a rainy British morning. Seville oranges are sometimes associated with, and chosen for, their slightly bitter taste and more interesting flavour to your everyday orange. Taking my first bite I am please to say that the added sugar is balanced to offset any unwanted bitterness perfectly. It’s at this point that I almost forget I am tasting a chilli product.

Habeneros are chosen for both their intense fruitiness and the heat they can bring to any dish or product. Often this heat is above many people comfortable threshold. In Lily’s marmalade I am struggling to pick up any obvious heat or flavour from the Habanero, which is a little disappointing. However after a few bites of the bagel I notice you are left with a pleasant warm glow. I think the powerful flavour of the Seville oranges have blocked out the Habanero, but I am certain if you removed the chilli from the marmalade altogether then you would feel that something is lacking. I’m not sure I am converted to adding a non-chilli store bought marmalade into my morning breakfast routine, but I would definitely recommend adding in a Lily’s Chillies marmalade into yours to liven things up and have yet another product in your stash that people can roll their eyes at saying to you have chilli with everything, as you sit there grinning and nodding.

As well as a spicy start to the day, this can make a great marinade for meaty white fish. Maybe you could cover something like a gammon joint for a stick caramelised finish too

Like all of the jellies in their range I love this delightfully moreish marmalade too. Lily’s ever increasing range seeks to try different combinations, not sticking to the norm. This provides them with a line of stand out products in and ever increasing crowded market.

A 220g limited edition jar will set you back £3.85. This is very reasonable for the amount sharp citrus goodness packed inside, and depending on the addiction you develop for their product range it should last a respectable amount of time too.

Flavour 9/10
Heat 2/10
Packaging 7/10
Value 8/10
Overall 8/10

Lily’s Chillies Limited Edition Quince Chilly Jelly Review

Review by Lady C’in – Jar provided by Lily’s Chillies

Lily’s chillies.  What can we say about them?  Well, several Great Taste awards in the past few years tells us that they’re a company with passion for flavour!  Based in Sussex and local produce enthusiasts, they sure know how to make jellies you’ll remember.

IngredientsQuince (49%), Sugar, Lemon Juice, Habanero Chillies (1%)

I received a limited edition jar which varies only in the label.  As you can see from the stock label we have, the jar has a lovely simple jellow label depicting the colour of the fruit inside.

In a huge 220g squared jar, This deep reddish brown, almost black looking jelly waits.  It has a very rich, floral aroma, like a colourful garden in the midst Lily's Chillies Quince Chilli Jellyof summer.  It has a great medium consistency.  A little like thick honey, it gently rolls around in the jar.  I smell an almost sweet and sour effect, based entirely on the quince flavour with no hint of the habanero yet.  On the spoon it takes on a deep red colour, now becoming translucent.  It is completely smooth with no bits or flesh whatsoever.  The first taste is so sweet.  The flavour of quince really pops out and jumps right into your tastebuds.  It leaves a fresh lingering taste which has a mild earthy tone to it, perhaps a slight tangyness, but a greatly pleasant combination.  Now the Habanero.  That slowly creeps up on you.  You can almost forget from the first taste that this is a chilli jelly, until you feel a familiar tingle on the back of your tongue. Just a tingle though.  Then it slowly creeps in a little further in, gradually building itself up to warm your mouth all over.

As suggested, cheese will soon become this Jelly’s best friend.  I can imagine it with a great strong cheddar or red leicester.  As a sauce instead of apple on a pulled pork roll.  Try brushing some on a nice pack of sausages and grilling them.

This Jelly is being sold on the Lily’s Chillies website for £3.85.  Out of this, 25p from the sale of each jar is donated to Leukemia & Lymphoma Research in memory of one of their dear friends.  A beautiful idea, a cracking jelly and an all in winner from Lily’s Chillies.

Flavour 8/10
Heat 5/10
Packaging 7/10
Value 7/10
Overall 7/10