January 2013

Seaspring Seeds are regarded in the UK Chilli Growing Industry as one of the top growers so who better to learn from than Joy and Michael Michaud? They are running some Chilli growing courses next month, there is still some availability and also in August.

Cost is £20 for a 2.5 hour session, availability and booking here and below is what you can expect on your visit:

logoWhat’s Hot, What’s Not

Led by pepper expert, Michael Michaud, ‘What’s Hot, What’s Not’ are gardening courses that explore the diverse world of peppers and reveals the secrets of these unique and captivating plants. For keen gardeners looking for a new experience, they are a chance to discover the scorchingly hot chilli peppers used by Bangladeshis, Mexicans and West Indians; the gentle sweet peppers perfect for stuffing and frying; and the in-between kinds that give ordinary dishes a new lease of life.

The courses assume that participants have some gardening experience that they can build on. They mainly cover the ‘how to’ of growing, but also include other subjects, such as variety selection and harvesting. Growing in both containers and garden soil will be discussed, so no one needs to have a vegetable garden in the traditional sense to benefit from the course. Each course runs for about two and a half hours, by which time you should have learned enough to be able to successfully grow your own peppers.

Courses will be conducted at Sea Spring Farm. They will take place solely in our unheated tunnels and greenhouse, irrespective of the weather. So dress accordingly, and come prepared to learn.

Note: We have a strict ‘no smoking policy’ due to Tobacco Mosaic Virus. Smokers may may be asked to wear plastic gloves while handling pepper plants.

Orders made on-line will be charged a postal fee. This will be reembursed at the course.

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Happy New Year Chilli Padawans!! I hope you got everything you wanted at xmas and that your new year was a drunken night of debauchery! I know mine was!

I thought I’d kick off the new year with a little company from london that is growing every day as more and more people sample their products and spread the word. A guy by the name of Joe Walters, started the Original Jerky Company London in 2012 with a view to providing good quality PROPER jerky to the UK masses, none of that moist shite you find in supermarkets! (that’s probably made of horse!..you know who i’m looking at!) So without further ado lets get into this stuff shall we?

Ingredients: Ghost:

BEEF, BEER, BHUT JOLOKIA, CIDER VINEGAR, LEMON, SALT

Ingredients: Dragons Blood:

BEEF, DRAGONS BLOOD, BEER, PINEAPPLE, LEMON, VINEGAR, SALT

As you can see from the ingredients, ! have two types of jerky here today for the vid review, the “Ghost” jerky, which of course contains the all famous ghost pepper, or bhut jolokia! The Dragons blood one is so named because it contains the now legendary Dragon’s Blood sauce from Chillipepperpete and as such, packs a bit of a punch!!

Watch the vid review below, and then come back to see the final scores!!

Okay so there you have it, not massively hot but enough to give a damn good burn and very VERY tasty to boot, possibly the best and by far the hottest jerky I have tried yet! If I was a persuasive man, I would say GO AND BUY SOME OF THIS BLOODY JERKY NOW FROM Original Jerky, ITS AMAZING!! But I’m not that persuasive, so I’ll leave that decision up to you! Right, thats all for now padawans, I know its been way too long so I’ll try to get another one done soon, until then may the sauce be with you…always!!

Ghost Jerky :

Flavour
(8/10)
Heat
(8/10)
Packaging
(7/10)
Value (6/10)
Overall
(8/10)

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Dragons Blood Jerky :

Flavour
(7/10)
Heat
(8/10)
Packaging
(7/10)
Value (6/10)
Overall
(8/10)

 

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The Wiltshire Chilli Farm offers a range of chilli sauces, jams and chutneys and supply fresh chillies in season. All their products use chillies which have been grown on site in Wiltshire and the rest of ingredients used are sourced locally wherever possible.

I always find grinder based products great to use as they bring a new dimension to cooking. They add colour, flavour and aroma to dishes and are very versatile. This product is no exception as it says on the label ‘grind over everything for a fiery seasoning’ which is what I did! It works great on chips, pizza, as a seasoning in chilli con carne, and is a great alternative to cracked pepper on pasta dishes. So far I haven’t found anything this does not work with.

This is the kind of product to keep close to hand in the kitchen, it contains a good mixture of colours and has the warming scent of chilli, complemented with garlic and green pepper.

The packaging is clear with a chilli pictured; the red and white font on the black background is simple yet striking. The grinder gives you two options so you can have either a finer or coarser grind. The Wiltshire Chilli Farm grinders are charged at £4.00 on the website which is good value as it lasts for ages.

They also have a Chipotle Chilli Salt, a Naga salt and an Aji Lemon grinder available on their website  and shows from time to time which are all excellent and are priced at £4

Grinder kindly supplied by The Wiltshire Chilli Farm

Ingredients:

aji orange, aji lemon, onion, ring of fire, black pepper, salt, green pepper, garlic parsley.

Flavour
(7/10)
Heat
(7/10)
Packaging
(7/10)
Value (7/10)
Overall
(7/10)

 

 

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In the UK we are very blessed to have a wealth of Chilli Jam producers, with the exemplary products we have seen from Mr Vikki’s , The Chilli Jam Man and the Wiltshire Chilli Farm but the less discerning general public would buy straight off the shelf not being aware of the above mentioned companies. Demand for Chilli Jam has skyrocketed in recent months and the demand is increasing.

So the question is, do the Supermarkets make a good Chilli Jam ?, how do they rate to the smaller producers? Well Rob House decided he would investigate, he found around 12 products spread over the big 5 supermarkets which fitted the profile of Jam/Relish/Chutneys and chose 6 of them to review here.

So here we have his set of mini reviews, starting with ;

Tesco’s Finest Chilli Relish

First up we have a product from Tesco’s Finest range. This chilli relish is a bright red in colour and there are flecks of red pepper and a few chilli seeds dispersed throughout. The relish is quite runny and would work well as a dipping sauce.

Aside from the sugar, red pepper is the only discernible flavour. Since no herbs or spices have been used, this relish may be a little sweet for some palettes. Despite the 3 chilli rating, the heat from this relish is pleasantly warm and not overpowering.

Ingredients:

Sugar, Red Pepper (32%), White Wine Vinegar, Red Chilli (2.5%), Water, Gelling Agent(Pectin), Concentrated Lemon Juice, Sunflower Oil, Preservative (Sulphur Dioxide).

Jar purchased from Tesco.

For £1.79 you get a 320g jar of sweet chilli relish that complements cheese and works brilliantly as a dipping sauce.

Flavour
(6.5/10)
Heat
(3/10)
Packaging
(8/10)
Value (7/10)
Overall
(7/10)

 

 

Asda Extra Special Tomato & Chilli Chutney

Here we have another premium product, but this time it’s from Asda. A quick glance at the label and I notice that this chutney has been slow cooked in traditional open pans with apples, sultanas  and ginger – sounds promising!

The chutney is quite chunky and has a nice thick consistency. Upon opening the jar, the initial aroma is more akin to a pickle with the apple, malt vinegar and ginger being the main influences. The taste is not what I was expecting either. Instead of sweet tomato and chilli, I am greeted with hearty, autumnal flavours.

I think this product would be a welcome accompaniment to roast pork or a ploughman’s lunch. There is almost no detectable heat, but this is not surprising since chilli makes up a miniscule 0.1% of the total ingredients.

Ingredients: AsdaExtraSpecialTomatoAndChutney

Sugar, Tomatoes (21%), Apples (18%), Malt Vinegar (Barley), Water, Sultanas (6%), Dried Onions, Salt, Ginger (0.7%), Garlic Powder, Dried Chillies (0.1%).

Jar purchased from Asda.

Asda’s Tomato & Chilli Chutney is great value at £1.00 for a 300g jar, but left me with mixed feelings. The product has a nice flavour, but I feel that the product name is a bit misleading.

Flavour
(6/10)
Heat
(1/10)
Packaging
(6/10)
Value (9/10)
Overall
(6/10)

 

Morrisons Chilli Jam

Morrisons have been selling chilli jam for at least a couple of years now, but their product packaging has recently been overhauled. The original black and white design has now been replaced with an orange, black and gold label which is much more striking than its previous incarnation.

This jam has a thick jelly-like consistency which spreads nicely. Amongst the flecks of chilli and red pepper there are the odd seed, but not as many as there are in the Tesco relish.

Upon opening the jar, the vinegar is quite noticeable. However, during tasting the vinegar was less prominent and did a good job of keeping the sweetness under control.

Unlike the other products in this set of reviews, Morrisons actually list the types of chilli that go into this jam – jalapeño & piri piri. The piri piri chillies give a nice initial kick, whilst the jalapeños provide a lasting warmth.

Ingredients:

Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Water, Red Peppers (12%), White Wine Vinegar, Jalapeño Chillies, Thickener (Pectin), Piri Piri Chillies, Antioxidant (Citric Acid), Rapeseed Oil.

Flavour
(6.5/10)
Heat
(3/10)
Packaging
(8/10)
Value (7/10)
Overall
(7/10)

 

Morrisons Chilli Jam is very similar to the Tesco Chilli Relish, but isn’t quite as sweet and has a much thicker consistency. At £1.59 for a 305g jar, it’s good value too.

 

What A Pickle! Hot Chilli Jam

Next we have a product that isn’t a supermarket own brand – Hot Chilli Jam by What A Pickle! This jam has a nice colour and is a little darker than some of the others being tested. This is probably due to the use of red wine vinegar.

Upon opening the jar, I am greeted by chilli, onion and garlic aromas which are reminiscent of some Asian dishes I have cooked. The jam is quite smooth in consistency, but does have some chunks and seeds too.

The taste is good, but perhaps a little tangy when compared to other chilli jams I have tried.

A touch less onion and maybe a little ginger might help to improve the overall flavour. The jam is quite hot and noticeably warmer than any of the other products being tested.

Ingredients:

Sugar, Red Wine Vinegar, Red Pepper (17.5%), Chillies (17.5%), Onion, Garlic, Citrus Pectin.

Jar purchased from Asda.

Overall, this is a nice chilli jam which is well priced at £2.00 for a 320g jar. Its slight tanginess makes it a good accompaniment for cold meats and milder cheeses.

Flavour
(7/10)
Heat
(6/10)
Packaging
(7/10)
Value (7/10)
Overall
(7/10)

 

 

Sainsbury’s Organic Tomato & Chilli Chutney

Sainsbury’s have been stocking a range of chilli sauces for quite some time, but we previously found their own Peri Peri Sauce to be a little disappointing. Here’s hoping that their organic tomato & chilli chutney can restore our faith in their products.

This chutney looks very similar to Asda’s Tomato & Chilli Chutney, but is a brighter in colour. Initially, I am greeted by the familiar smell of white wine vinegar, but it quickly subsides and reveals what I can only describe as a concentrated tomato smell – it is very reminiscent of tomato puree or tinned tomato soup.

The taste is quite nice with the sweetness of the apple, tomatoes and sultanas being present. Unfortunately, the taste and texture are both marred by the large chunks of dried onion which are present in the chutney. The dried onion is quite chewy and a little bitter.

Ingredients:

Tomato (27%), Golden Sugar, Water, White Wine Vinegar, Apples, Tomato Puree (6%), Sultana, Dried Onion, Cornflour, Sea Salt, Ginger Powder, Garlic Powder, Dried Chillies.

Jar purchased from Sainsbury’s.

This Sainsbury’s chutney isn’t a bad product, but would definitely benefit from the use of fresh ingredients instead of dried.

At £1.90 for a 300g jar it’s well priced for an organic product.
Much like the Asda product, the chilli was hardly noticeable.

Flavour
(5/10)
Heat
(1/10)
Packaging
(5/10)
Value (7/10)
Overall
(5/10)

Marks & Spencer Red Chilli Relish

Finally we have a product from Marks & Spencer.

The first thing that grabbed my attention with this product is the paper cover which is held in place by an elastic band. It gives the product an almost handmade look about it. The round label and simple design work great too.

The contents are a nice dark red and the consistency is sticky and much thicker than the Tesco relish. The aroma is sweet with subtle hints of red onion.

The taste is sweet too, but the lemon juice prevents the sweetness for being overpowering. This relish seems to strike a good balance of flavours and the red peppers and red onion are both prominent. The chilli puree provides a nice warmth which is on a par with the Tesco relish.

Ingredients:

Sugar, Red Peppers (37%), Red Onions, Water, Concentrated Lemon Juice, Red Chilli Puree (2%), Gelling Agent (Pectin).

Jar purchased from Marks & Spencer.

At £2.49 for a 210g jar, this relish is the most expensive of the bunch. However, the standard of product is very high and I think you would be hard pressed to find a better chilli relish than this in a supermarket. It complements tangy cheddar cheese really well, but would also be a great accompaniment for sausages, burgers or sandwiches.

Flavour
(9/10)
Heat
(3/10)
Packaging
(8/10)
Value (8/10)
Overall
(8.5/10)

 

So there we have it – 6 chilli products which are available to purchase from supermarkets across the UK. Overall, the Marks & Spencer Chilli Relish really stood out from the crowd. Its packaging, balance of flavour and price tag make it a winner in my books. There were some nice products from Tesco, Morrisons and What A Pickle too, whilst Asda and Sainsbury’s left me feeling a little disappointed as chilli was indistinguishable in their products.

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