This is the third and final review of the trio of new ‘Hot Sauces’ from Heinz, this time, The Fiery & Sweet Yellow Habanero Hot Sauce. Heinz have come a long way since their ’57’ varieties, goodness knows how many products have Heinz on them now but it must be in the 1000’s. Anyway let’s get on with the review.
The bottle is the typical Lea & Perrins shape and size, 150ml in volume and the the glass is embossed with the aforementioned ’57’ around the neck, something only a big company could afford. The label is as before, in the Heinz branding and uses yellow instead of the red and green of the other two sauces in the set. Its functional and does the job but the biggest lettering just says “Hot Sauce”, its only further down that you discover that it is the Yellow Habanero.
Spirit Vinegar, Habanero Chilli (14%), Sugar, Onion, Salt, Garlic, Thickener – Xanthum Gum
Bottle kindly supplied by Heinz
Heinz have used a common pictorial Chilli for the heat guide from one to three, this being a three with the statement ‘Very Hot’. We shall see whether it lives up to this.
I have to mention here that the big companies are in a no win situation when trying to give the consumer a warning about the heat level, because an average Tesco shopper will have gone no further than Tabasco or Nandos for their chilli kick. These shoppers may well find these Heinz sauces ‘very hot’ and tasty, but compared to us, who are a little more accustomed to the world of chilli sauces available in the non supermarket arena, we expect heat and flavour which inevitably the big companies fall down on both counts.
To achieve better flavour means better ingredients, but that means the price will go up and Mr Average shopper won’t pay that, whereas we all know the ever expanding handmade chilli sauce business in the UK is growing and festival goers will happily pay more for a better product.
Back to the sauce in question, it is very yellow but there are no colourings added, so that must be entirely down to the pepper mash used. It is fairly runny but a quick look at the label reveals Xanthum Gum which is produced by the fermentation of glucose, sucrose, or lactose by the Xanthomonas campestris bacterium, so a natural additive and commonly used in the food industry.
So how does it taste? Upon opening the bottle I am greeted by the bain of my reviewing life, the dropper cap! This is ok in a very watery sauce like Lea & Perrins but with a sauce like this it takes quite a lot of effort to get a teaspoon full from the bottle and is really not needed.
Being as the first ingredient on the list is spirit vinegar, it is no surprise that this is all I can smell at first, there is no way I can pick out the Habanero aroma, just vinegar and onions. Pouring a teaspoonful with the dropper cap removed, I can taste the yellow liquid and it is consistant with the smell of vinegar and onions and a warmth. Spirit Vinegar will always give that vicious pickled onion flavour, which is why most smaller producers use wine vinegars or cider vinegar, giving the acidity needed but not the smack in the face you get with spirit vinegar.
The sauce is fairly sweet as the label suggests but also very sour and leaves a bitterness, similar to capsaicin extract but without the vicious heat. Once the taste goes away there is a half decent burn which carries on for quite a few minutes.
Another thing noted is that it has a slightly slimy texture to it, which would be due to the Xanthum Gum, although I appreciate that this is not designed to be consumed by the spoonful, if drizzled over food or added to cooking, this would not be detectable.
So in summary on the heat level, it is hot, although I’m not sure I would class it as very hot, the standard Encona is hotter than this. I don’t feel it is fair to directly compare these three Heinz Hot Sauces to the handmade Artisan sauces we are lucky enough to have in the UK.
I am impressed that the ingredients list is only 7 items long, usually these type of products have about 20! some of which I have never heard of.
Now I know that Heinz will sell millions of units of each of these mainly because they are Heinz after all, but part of me wishes that all these major players, sauce producers, supermarkets, crisp manufacturers who make chilli this and chilli that would actually approach people like us to help them make these products better, maybe they already do, but in such a growing chilli industry it is such a shame that the majority of the public are not getting a better experience when buying a chilli product in the Supermarket from the International brands.
Well there you have it, this would not be a sauce I would go back to, but saying that it has a half decent burn if you can get past the vinegar and bitterness. You can buy this in Sainsbury’s for £1.49