Tomato

Its always nice being sent something from a company I have not come across before. This time it’s a small producer from the New Forest

Pig’n’Pickles is a small company based on the edge of the New Forest, making homemade chutney to an exceptional standard. Passionate about good food their philosophy is that all their products are made in a domestic kitchen in small batches only with fresh ingredients and no artificial additives or preservatives.

Pig 'N' Pickles Chilli Jam

The name comes from Trevor’s wife Cathryn who is very much dedicated to the idea of urban smallholding, keeping chickens & ducks, growing vegetables and rearing Pigs. Hence Pig’n’Pickles!

Ingredients: Red pepper, sugar, tomato (tomato juice, citric acid) red wine vinegar, chilli (1%) ginger, garlic.

For a home made small batch jam, the label design is perfect and beautifully done. The company logo and brand name is beautifully distinctive simple and all in black. Inside the jar you can see a deep tomato chutney kind of red with visible chilli seeds and everything looks very sticky as it should be!

At one percent chilli I have argued in the past whether a product can really be a chilli product but it does contain chilli so I should stop ranting really. When I open the jar I am thinking jam but smelling chutney. This is most likely due to the red pepper and tomatoes. The smell is very pleasing and immediately makes me think of a cheese board.

When you taste the chilli jam you can pick out every ingredient, they are all beautifully balanced. The pepper and tomato is obvious both in taste and aroma, I particularly like the hint of ginger that you can pick up too. To my surprise and slight disbelief you can also taste the chilli too, a lot more than I though. There some real heat in the taste, not to any impressive level as you might expect but a wonderful warming that lets you know the chilli is there before fading into the background and letting the jams other ingredients enhance your chosen dish. This is one jam that I want to have again and again, it feels a little ‘Christmas hamper’ that kind of treat food that you only deserve once a year or so but there’s no reason not to have it all year round

I have used this jam everywhere you would normally use jam, the difference is it’s just tastier than many normal jams. One lovely snack was cheese and chilli jam on toast, I wasn’t bought into the idea I must admit, but a layer of this jam underneath the cheese made for an awesome taste sensation.

A 190g jar will cost £3.95

Flavour
(8/10)
Heat
(1/10)
Packaging
(6/10)
Value (7/10)
Overall
(7/10)

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This is the first review I have done of a product from The Chillees, while others have reviewed a couple of their products in the past (HabApple Chilli Apple Chutney & Orangatongue Tingler Chilli Sauce) here at the ChileFoundry for me this is a first.

The Chillees Smoky Jo's Chipotle_smI found this product while visiting the Sherbourne Castle Country Fair a while back. The Chillees is a small family concern run by Nick and Francine Lee who grow the chillies and make the sauces just down the road from us in Taunton, Somerset.

The sauce comes in the standard sized 140ml bottle and as you will see from the picture it picked up a silver award from the Taste of the West organisation in 2014.

Open the bottle and it smells a bit like a chilli style tomato sauce, but once the more volatile aromas have escaped, I can still smell the tomato, but also the onion and maybe a bit of garlic. I am not expecting this to be a hot sauce with only 1% chipotle in the mix, but butternut squash is not something I often find in the chilli sauce, I love using them in soups as they give such a great texture.

The sauce is mild, but you can taste the smokeyness from the smoked Garlic and chipotle chillies, then a bit of sweetness with the onion, red wine and balsamic vinegar, it is not as thick as I expected but the flavour in excellent no single ingredient is overpowering, the combination works very well.

Ingredients: Onion, Tomato, Butternut Squash, Water, Red Wine Vinegar, Red Peppers, Sugar, Apple, Rice Vinegar, Smoked Garlic, Chipotle Chilli (1%), Worcester Sauce, Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, Mustard Seeds, Ancho Chilli, Paprika, Sea Salt.

A few teaspoon later and I can already see this going into some mayo as a mild dip, or mixed into mince before making burgers.. I am getting hungry just thinking about it.. I think we are having a BBQ this weekend..

I can see why this won a silver award, it is an outstanding sauce that would appeal the the whole family.

Flavour
(8/10)
Heat
(1/10)
Packaging
(6/10)
Value (8/10)
Overall
(8/10)


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This time I have Hot-Headz! Roasted Naga Ketchup as a treat to review. Since 1994 Hot-Headz has been one of the leading supplier of authentic, speciality chilli pepper products in the UK. This is the hottest of their ketchup range and features the Naga or Ghost Pepper as it’s also widely known. I must first admit that on receiving the sample I read the label and thought this would just be a tomato powerhouse with no real taste so put off the tasting for a while, luckily not too long though!

Hot-Headz explain how they roast the Nagas before smoking this rich tasty hot ketchup to give unbeatable flavour and heat you’ll never go back to dull supermarket ketchup again once you’ve tried this masterpiece

Bottle kindly supplied by Hot-Headz

 

Ingredients:

Water, tomato paste, sugar, roasted Habanero chilli (6.16%), glucose, Naga Jolokia chilli (4.45%), salt, corn starch, acetic acid, garlic, citric acid, onion, ascorbic acid, cinnamon, clove

On opening the bottle your senses are not hit with the impending doom of death by Naga as I expected, but a rich smoky homemade ketchup smell with just a hint of spice. Here came the second challenge and delay in writing this review, on tasting the sauce I got distracted by the wonderful taste and had to stop writing and just enjoy. Several attempts later I managed to resume writing.

The sauce has a full on fruity flavour that’s very rich and tangy coupled with nice long low burn to it. With the flavour this ketchup packs it can be used with anything and should remove that bog standard ketchup bottle you have in your kitchen forever. Its worth noting that though the sauce contains Naga and refers to itself as ‘HOT’ and displays a 5 chilli rating ‘extra hot sauce’ on the label. I found the heat very mild compared to expectations, this is a good thing.

Don’t be fooled though, this is a hot ketchup no doubt and would obviously beat the pants off any supermarket ketchup that claims to be ‘chilli’ just don’t be afraid of the label and grab yourself a bottle to enjoy.

The 390g bottle is a mere £3.99 more pricey than a bottle of Heinz but worth every penny.

 

 

Flavour
(9/10)
Heat
(7/10)
Packaging
(7/10)
Value (6/10)
Overall
(9/10)

 

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Now there is a company in the UK doing wonderful things for gardeners across our land, and chilli growers are well catered for as a lot of the items they sell work very well for optimising crop yield. I am of course talking about Greenhouse Sensation who started making their own products some time ago. One of the things the company is most proud of, is the fact the designing and manufacturing is done in the UK. During the 2013 growing season I have been using one of the companies more popular products, the Quadgrow for review. Now the season is over, here it is.

The product is bigger than I expected, at 130cm long its quite a beast in the box, and there are two boxes in total.

The contents are:

Main Reservoir with moulded lid, A & B Nutrients, Pack of 4 capillary matting ‘wicks’, 4 x 11 litre pots, Plastic Screws to hold the lid to the base

The main unit is a 30 litre tough plastic reservoir with a rectangular lid which is moulded, and has drainage holes and a hole for each wick. The moulding enables the 4 square pots to fit neatly on top. There is a piece cut off one end of the lid which simply sits there and is removable to enable watering.

Quadgrow with Nutrients & one wick installed

I am particularly impressed with the thickness of the black plastic and it appears very durable having been moulded from one piece there are no seams which can fail, a common problem with cheap water butts.

Assembly is a piece of cake too, with minimal parts, the lid sits of top and plastic screws join the lid to the base as a safety precaution. The only slightly fiddly part is the installation of the pots, wicks and compost but it just takes patience. To save me explaining this in detail, here is a video of my friend Jim from The Clifton Chilli Club setting one up. Please note that the Quadgrow in the video is a slightly earlier design so has the old style watering hole in the lid.

So that’s it set up and ready for use. The instructions say that you may have to water the top of each pot from time to time if the compost starts to dry out a little but I had no problems in this area, the wick worked very well at drawing up the water/nutrient mix into the compost so it always stayed just moist enough. Those who already grow chillies will know that the plants hate over watering, if compost is left too wet then the roots start to rot very quickly.

The science with the wick is that it only draws up nutrient water as needed, the roots therefor are able to get maximum oxygen in the compost and grow quickly which gives the plant the energy to grow big and strong and make producing chillies a doddle. The roots manage to fill the pot quickly and find their way through the wick hole and create a thick mat down into the reservoir by the end of the season. This all combines to give you up to double the yield of standard growbags or pots.

I was initially concerned with the amount of nutrients supplied once mixed with water, it just didn’t seem like enough to last the season but they did. Even with one of the sunniest summers in quite a while and the temperature in my polytunnel reaching 40+ degrees on quite a few occasions, the topping up the reservoir was never a problem, especially with the redesigned watering hole.

During the hottest period of the summer I was only topping up every few days and this was stretched to over a week or more in cooler weather. This is one of the products many key selling points, there is no need to water daily and you can go away on holiday leaving them to do their thing, so if you forget to check them after work you will have some grace!

I planted my Quadgrow with a Jay’s Ghost Scorpion Red and Peach and 2 Carolina Reapers. These were new varieties to the UK this season so a good test. All 3 varieties set chilli pods readily and it was interesting to compare the Jay’s to the other plants I had in normal pots. I found the Peach variety a very late producing plant and a very difficult plant to grow, always looking pale green but the one in the Quad Grow was always a deep lush green and produced some very gnarly large pods a lot earlier than the others.

All the plants grew very strong branches and side shoots, soon reaching at least 6 foot. The ‘trunks’ on the plants above the soil level grew very big, showing they were loving the conditions.I underestimated how big the plants would get as it became a struggle to get past them! The plants set lots of pods and these were all large and good quality.

Now my only negative with the product (and it can be seen as a positive too!) Because the plants grow so well in both height and width, they end up as one big mass of  lush green foliage so it can be difficult to determine where one plant starts and another ends! not a problem if you are growing all the same variety but if you have 4 similar varieties it can be difficult working out which plant it came from. I’m sure a lot of research has gone into the spacing of the pots. I suppose it just demonstrates how well the unit works.

Now at the end of the growing season the pots can be emptied, the root ‘beards’ cut off and all the bits washed and stored ready for next year, just remembering to place your order for replacement wicks and nutrients.

As a Christmas gift, you will need a very large stocking but if you know a chilli/tomato grower, I’m sure they would love one of these, they are available direct from Greenhouse Sensation for £42.90 each or you can get two for £64.90, a saving of £20

The Quadgrow comes recommended by many people and has been reviewed in high profile magazines. It is used at River Cottage and at the Upton Cheyney Chilli Company where Alex Duck has had a whole Polytunnel devoted to them this year. I myself have recently taken on a new bigger growing space and am very tempted to put 2 or 3 rows of these in having seen the yield from Upton Cheyney.

The Quadgrow tunnel freshly planted at Upton Cheyney – Photo Alex Duck

Chilli variety Fatalii in the same tunnel just before harvest last week showing the yield – Photo Alex Duck

Amazingly I managed to repot one of the Carolina Reapers straight into a bigger pot and bring it inside, here it is under an LED grow light and shows no sign of slowing down, setting pods all over! The Quadgrow certainly creates a healthy plant.

 

 

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