I admit it, I’ve become a bit snobbish when it comes to hot sauces, thinking only artisan producers make a worthy product and all major food makers cant put a decent sauce together because of all the focus groups and marketing bods muddying the waters, and why do they even bother because there’s no chilli in the things anyway!
So when my first package of sauces arrived from Chilefoundry for review I was surprised and sceptical at the inclusion of a bottle of Heinz ketchup! But in my defence Heinz hasn’t had the best of records when it comes to “hot” sauces, being more bottles of vinegar with a hint of something in the background.
Like a true soldier and wanting to do my best for the site, I put my prejudice aside and cracked open the bottle, first appearances are that its just the same old tomato sauce we all grew up with, the bottle is the same and features the iconic Heinz label shape that’s on upside-down so that you keep it stored standing on the cap, its has the effect of having reluctant sauce hanging on to the base of the bottle, also the cap has one of those little diaphragms that are supposed to reduce spills but actually causes the contents to shoot out with the force of a solid fuel rocket booster from a Saturn 5!
Squirting some of the sauce on my silver spoon I got when I was in catering college, I do the usual reviewer thing of first sniffing the bottle and the spoonful to see what subtle notes I can pick up to indicate the flavours locked within. The initial hit is just as I’d feared, spirit vinegar! some people like a strong vinegar taste and I’m OK with it as long as its actually got a flavour like white wine or cider vinegar does, spirit vinegar is too harsh but is common because its cheap, and big brands are all about making things as cheaply as possible! Hiding behind that though is a sweet tomato and herby hint.
Ingredients: Spirit Vinegar, Water, Concentrated Tomato Puree (17%) Sugar, Date Purée, Chipotle Paste (5%, Tomato Purée, Smoked Jalapeño Peppers, Water, Onion, Spirit Vinegar, Sugar, Peppers, Salt, Garlic, Spices, Parsley, Spice extract) Modified Cornflour, Salt, Concentrated apple juice, Chilli powder, Smoke flavouring, Spice, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Preservative (Potassium Sorbate) Spice Extract.
Taste wise again i wasn’t expecting more than a ketchup with no actual chilli heat and a completely over exaggerated label design, but Im pleasantly surprised by the smoky kick and lingering tongue burn offered by the chipotle chilli, its not the main flavour (that going to the highly processed tomato) but does give a twist to your bog standard ketchup.This would be a good addition to your Tuesday night tea of burger and chips or as the Heinz website suggests pizza or hotdogs, Ive added the sauce to my beef chilli as I think the sweetness and chipotle would give a nice balance to a family friendly evening meal.
As I mentioned above the 220ml bottle is that of the usual Heinz design but the label emphasizes the 57 logo and this sauce is part of a range of 10 “signature” sauces comprising of a Garlic, Burger, Flamin’ Cajun, Mint, Tartare, Horseradish, Blue cheese, Cocktail, Caesar and a mustard sauce along with the Firecracker.
So, has this sauce swayed me back to the land of supermarket big brand sauce? simply, no, its a cheap n cheerful addition to your fridge only costing around £1.20 but with the dedication and inventiveness of our beloved artisan producers there are far better sauces out there that mass production cannot match, its worthwhile getting some if you’re throwing a BBQ and have kids and chilli virgins around that may want to play with a safely controlled fire.
Editor Note:- James also produced a live feed of his review, which is now below and also on his YouTube Channel.