I’ve finally reached it. The last hot sauce to review from the 2007 Fiery Foods show. A very enthusiastic Tim Sharkey, from California Habanero Blends graciously donated his line of hot sauces to me the second night of the show and has been patiently awaiting the review. So, without further ado, let’s start the show!
These sauces come in three heat levels; Mild, Medium, and Hot and sport three different taste descriptions; Sweet, Sweet and Smokey, and Tangy. The great labels display different background colors so to distinguish the heat levels. I especially like the fact that there is a life sized habanero prominently displayed in the center of the label. It really shows off the main theme of these sauces; habanero goodness.
Ginger Garlic Ingredients: Sugar, orange juice, pineapple juice, soy sauce, garlic, Habanero peppers, ginger, key lime juice, vinegar, salt, spices, xanthan gum.
Garlic Ginger is the mildest of the bunch as far as heat goes. All the juices in this sauce cause it to be the most viscous of the set and allow you to see some of the ingredients floating around. The thing I noticed immediately is the Habanero seeds. This sauce is riddled with them! Luckily they have become extremely soft due to all the liquids its sitting in so you won’t find yourself gnawing on them
Overall it is really sweet, but not to the point where it would limit the foods it would pair with. The sugar, orange juice, and pineapple juice really jump out right away and blend quite well with the ginger. There are small chunks of ginger in the sauce and when you chomp down on them, you’ll come to realize something I learned long ago. Ginger and sugar go amazing together!
I really can’t detect the soy sauce and Habaneros though but the garlic is hiding around the background. Strangely enough, the key lime juice hits as an aftertaste. It’s light, but just enough to smack your tongue on the roof of your mouth. As stated above, this one is mild but oddly enough, it grabs the center part of the tongue. This is unusual because Habaneros are known for their back of the throat burn.
Chipotle Ingredients: Tomato puree, sugar, Chipotle peppers, garlic, spices, Habanero peppers, key lime juice, molasses, honey, maple syrup, vinegar, salt, liquid smoke.
You know that old saying, “Slow as molasses”? Well, that’s about how fast this sauce pours. I finished reading War and Peace while waiting for it to come out of the bottle. Ok ok, it’s not that slow, but you get the idea. Chipotle is the thickest of the group making it a perfect BBQ sauce with it’s brown color and slightly chunky consistency.
The liquid smoke combined with the taste of Chipotle peppers gives this sauce its distinct, heavy flavor. Unless you cook with it, the taste is very prevalent. Up next is the sweet taste of molasses and tomatoes. The maple syrup is a background flavor that you don’t quite pick up at first and the same thing can be said about the key lime juice. The Habanero flavor is definitely present and blends perfectly with the honey. Out of the whole set, I’m going to say that this is my favorite.
A lot of the flavors die down when you cook with the sauce, which is sad. So I suggest grilling up some marinated chicken and then using this as either a finishing sauce or a dipping sauce. As for the heat? It’s got a little bit of a kick to it. I would agree with the label and call it “Medium”. Once again, the Habanero’s hit the center of the tongue.
Garlic Key Lime Ingredients: Carrots, Habanero peppers, garlic, key lime juice, vinegar, salt, extra virgin olive oil, spices, xanthan gum.
Now onto the Garlic Key Lime sauce. Coming in a little thicker than the Ginger Garlic and in a muted Orange color that reminds me of Devil Duck’s sauce this one is my least favorite of Tim’s sauces. The label isn’t lying when it says “Key Lime”. The key lime is way too overpowering and face scrunching and the extra virgin olive oil coats your tongue leaving a slight texture behind that isn’t quite pleasant.
I’m not quite sure if I’m confusing the taste of key lime juice with the salt, but the salt is also very bold. Salt should always just be a hint in the background to be used to bring out the subtle flavors of the ingredients. The carrots help to accent the flavor of the Habaneros but are hard to focus on due to the key lime juice.
The heat, however, is a nice, quick bite. It actually hits the back of the mouth just like Habaneros should. I found myself doing a little bit of the “air suck” after a few spoonfuls of this sauce.
All in all, California Habanero Blends have a good thing going for them. Quality ingredients that really shine their flavors in every drop of the sauces. It does the Habanero name sake well.
Ginger Garlic; Taste: 7, Heat: 2
Chiptole; Taste: 8, Heat: 4.12
Garlic Key Lime; Taste: 3, Heat: 6.43254