James Read

Chillilicious, A mother and daughter team from deepest darkest Fife and Scotland’s 1st Chilli farmers, started making chilli chutneys back in 2011 when they decided to try and grow the spicy fruit on their 2.5 acre farm, which has since grown to include 2 large poly tunnels, where they nurture over 4000 chilli plants, farm shop, glass art studio, a commercial kitchen and a biodiversity pond walk that serves to express and compliment their core values of fresh organic local produce.

Monkey Punch from ChilliliciousThe family team have won numerous awards since then and travel all over the UK to chilli festivals and specialist markets selling their creations.

Having tried a few of their products in the past I was looking forward to trying a new one, Monkey Punch harks back to the company’s beginnings being a chutney full of hearty chunks and deep rich flavours.

The name derives, I guess, from the use of banana as the main ingredient but rather than being the base flavour it acts as the fragrant after-note of the onion and sweet vinegar you’d expect from a more traditional chutney.

Ingredients: Bananas, kiwis, lemons, apples, dates, onions, allspice, salt, tumeric, white wine vinegar, sugar, jalapeño extract, lime extract, cayenne chilli.

Rather than being a mushy condiment as you may think you’d get from a banana based product, Monkey Punch has been expertly crafted and not over cooked so the texture of the apple, onion and other ingredients gives a satisfying bite that would work wonderfully served with a cheese board or plate of cold meats.

Heat wise the label promises an “explosion” but is, for me at least, a gradual warm glow that’s builds with every bite to a comfortable lingering finish, the chutney uses a jalepeno extract and dried cayenne, both of which are masked by the other ingredients so only provide the warmth. Although Chillilicous have hotter products in their varied range, their ethos is to concentrate on producing a well balanced and flavoursome accompaniment to food rather than trying to melt the face of the most hardened of chilli heads.

The packaging of Monkey Punch still has the homemade feel about it and the labels look like they could still be applied by hand, the printing isn’t glossy but a honest attempt and a fun design. (This may be a 1st run jar and the labels may improve during production as the company has recently been tweeking the brand design).

As with their other products you can choose to purchase a small 40g test jar for £1 (great for creating gift hampers) or the full size 270g jar for £3.95 which should last you one dinner party or a month of ordinary meals.

Gluten free and Vegan friendly

Flavour
(7/10)
Heat
(2/10)
Packaging
(6/10)
Value (8/10)
Overall
(7/10)

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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.
HEINZ Firecracker Sauce

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.

Flavour
(7/10)
Heat
(2/10)
Packaging
(3/10)
Value (8/10)
Overall
(7/10)



Editor Note:- James also produced a live feed of his review, which is now below and also on his YouTube Channel.

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Purus; Adjective meaning Pure or CleanThis sauce is exactly that, The Chilli Alchemist AKA Jay Webley from The Clifton Chilli Club has used his knowledge of chillies gained from the clubs passion for exploring the offerings of sauce makers across the globe, to extract what is best about the Naga Jolokia, its sweet zesty but powerful punch. The other ingredients are merely a vehicle to support the Nagas flavour and deliver the long slow release of heat, which is expertly tempered to be not too overpowering, believe me its not for a chilli novice but also not so hot as to not be enjoyable and mask the base flavours.

Ingredients: Red chillies(Naga Jolokia & Cayenne), Carrot, Onion, Cider vinegar, Garlic, Sugar and Salt.

There’s a surprising salsa-esque flavour, seeing as there is no tomato (possibly coming from the cayenne), yet has the effect of refreshing the pallet with expertly balanced seasoning letting you taste the sweet, savoury and sour notes individually before combining in a satisfying aftertaste. The texture is loose with a fine chunkiness enabling it to pour freely from the bottle, Ive used it as a burger relish as well as adding to curries and chillies, but to use Purus as intended its best as a dip, allowing for the naga to be celebrated and not a side note to other foods.

The design of the label runs with the alchemists theme of medieval warlocks and mythology with a brooding deep red background contrasting black naga chilli surrounded by runes and symbols with the ingredients list on a stylized parchment. As with all the Alchemists sauces Purus is available in two styles and sizes, the standard bottle holds 148ml and costs £4.99, the larger (200ml) Apothecary bottle with its long wax sealed neck and elegant bowl comes in at £9.50 and is a must for the hot sauce collector or an extra special gift.

Flavour
(9/10)
Heat
(8/10)
Packaging
(8/10) – standard bottle
Packaging
(9/10) – apothecary bottle
Value (8/10)
Overall
(8/10)

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