We just can;t get enough of the Hot Pickle included in the November subscription box. As such we were very excited to sit down with Michael from love-pickle.co.uk to get to know their back story and pick up a few tips along the way.
We first came across Must-Chup at the Fiery Foods Festival and since then their sauces have been a staple in our kitchen.
The November subscription box sees the inclusion of the spiciest sauce in their range the 'Big Kick'. We sat down with co-creator, Andrew to get the low down on how Must-Chup came to be.
I got into it through my chilli-addiction, a tendency to experiment in the kitchen and a desire to work for myself. I started making my own hot sauces back in 2010 when I tried to remember a lost piri-piri recipe. Unsurprisingly I ended up using the wrong ingredients and quantities - but that turned out to be v1 of our Original Zingy Pepper hot sauce. Word spread amongst friends and family when I started giving it away in Christmas hampers. Things began to snowball and the turning point was last year when I finally decided to quit my job as a Finance Manager and pursue my dreams! I now realise the importance of your heart being truly in to what you do each day.
Absolutely - we aim to always give an audacious flavour kick without ever using artificial additives or things you wouldn’t recognise. This really stems from me being an average guy with an interest in food and what goes into it. I think the concern for what one really eats is a growing trend that will only go in one direction. I mean does the average person know what xantham gum actually is? Or potassium sorbate, or citric acid? Obviously they’re safe to eat, but personally I’d rather eat things that I actually recognise and understand. Now, keeping this promise brings various challenges. For example making our hot sauces requires small batches - the creaminess comes from emulsifying in rapeseed oil, which works better in smaller quantities with the right balance of ingredients and moisture.
The Screaming Pepper was only meant to be a festival one-off but it has been our top seller so far which I definitely wasn’t expecting, so it now sits firmly in our core range! Our Original Zingy Pepper hot sauce and Hot Tom ketchup have also been in strong demand and these two have always been the favourites amongst friends and family.
That’s such a revealing question! My staple hot sauce of choice always changed a lot over the years but my most recent favourite, up until I started looking closely at additives, was Cholula which I still think tastes delicious.
One sauce you will always see in my fridge these days is Thai fish sauce which is so pungent yet gives such magical results - a dash added to lime juice, chilli, sugar and a glug of oil gives the most wonderful dipping sauce or dressing!
With the inclusion of their delicious Harissa rub in the September hot sauce box we caught up with the team at Spicentice.
Take one hungry student, a bunch of other hungry students and a handful of mum’s specially blended herbs and spices and you have the story of Spicentice!
Back in 1994 when founder, Ketan Varu, was at university, his mum sent him recipes and spices to make real Indian curries that would remind him of home. Pretty soon all his friends were hooked and the idea for Spicentice was born.
All these years later Spice 'N' tice is very much a family business (with mum, Manjula, and dad, Ramnik, still making sure Ketan eats a good lunch!) and the range has grown to include Indian, Thai, Jamaican, Moroccan, Portuguese, Cajun and Mexican spice kits, along with herb & spice rubs in handy tins and real Indian fruit chutneys.
Spicentice stands out from the crowd because of its commitment to traditional recipes that have been perfected over generations, with 100% pure herbs & spices, no waste and absolutely no nasties! Cooking and sharing a meal using our spice kits or rubs will impress your family and friends (and make Ketan’s mum very happy!).
Such a tasty chilli heat to this classic Harissa blend, perfect for rubbing into meat, fish and veggies before roasting. Make your own delicious Harissa paste by mixing the rub with oil, crushed garlic, tomato puree and lemon juice - you'll never buy ready-made paste again! We love a little rub mixed with oil and vinegar, drizzled on roasted vegetable cous cous. Try Harissa paste mixed with butter and breadcrumbs before stuffing under the skin of a chicken breast before roasting, it's delicious.
Ketans dad Ramnik - whose recipes our products are based on, has always been a keen chilli grower. At his home, he grows a variety of Chillies from seeds in his greenhouse. These include Friars Hats, Jalapeno, Joes Long Cane, Hungarian Wax, Dorset Naga & Ancho - then when they are fully grown, he harvest them & makes delicious curries, relishes & sauces - these are the best outside of our own products & a very worthy of a mention here.
African style hot sauces from Wales?? That's right and they are brilliant! With the inclusion of the award winning Sweet African Tigernut and Chilli Sauce in our September subscription box we spent some time getting to know the team behind this fiery treat.
Bim’s Kitchen is the creation of James “Bim” and Nicola Adedeji. All our products are original, modern recipes that we’ve created from a wide range of fantastic ingredients either from or widely used in Africa like baobab fruit, tigernuts, moringa, peanuts, cashew nuts, tamarind, alligator pepper and hibiscus to name a few. Some of our recipes are inspired by the ingredients themselves or their properties. Others have been inspired by traditional African dishes- our very popular African Peanut and Tomato & Cashew Curry Sauces, for example, were inspired by delicious peanut stews which are eaten in many West African countries.
“Bim” is short for my Nigerian name ‘Abimbola’ and I lived in Nigeria as a child where I first learnt about and tasted many of the ingredients we now use in our range. After mastering many of my favourite traditional recipes as I grew up, I discovered that my real passion was for finding new and creative ways of using ingredients that many people overlooked or used in a very limited way. That passion and curiosity led to us creating the first chilli jam and BBQ sauces with baobab fruit which are now amongst our best selling products.
We love attending food festivals across the country as it’s a very direct way to get feedback about our range and attract new customers. We moved from London to north Wales last year and so this year we have been concentrating on events in our new area. So far this year, the best event we’ve attended has got to be the Menai Seafood Festival which took place last month. Being our very first at the event we did not know what to expect but we were genuinely blown away by the enthusiasm for our products and the number of new customers attracted.
I am particularly proud of this sauce because it is the first commercial product we have made with the tigernut - a highly nutritional but little known and very underrated food product in the UK. Its success has also paved the way for some other new products that use tigernuts in more creative ways- a savoury relish and a nut butter.
Tigernuts are not actually “nuts” at all but tasty tubers which are: high in fibre, proteins, rich in minerals such as phosphorous, potassium, magnesium. They grow in many African countries and in the Valencia region of Spain. As kids in Nigeria we just used to eat them as a tasty snack and no more. The flavour of tigernuts have variously been described as like coconut, hazelnuts, cobb nuts or chestnuts and I’ve discovered they complement a lot of savoury ingredients beautifully. The tigernut is an ingredient I’ve long wanted to introduce into the Bim’s Kitchen range so we’re thrilled customers seem to love the new recipes. The Great Taste Award for the first product was the icing on the cake!
This is genuinely a difficult one! We have been privileged to meet a lot of absolutely fantastic small producers who make delicious hot sauces we’d be happy to make ourselves. We regularly swap products with other producers when we meet at events. At the moment we are currently working our way through some our favourites from Simply Relish, The Chilli Alchemist, Sabor de Amor, Mushemi Fire, Grim Reaper, Mr Vikkis, L'ail Olive, Wiltshire Chilli Farm and Posh Pickles.
Epic Snax came about in 2012 but not originally as popcorn. John and John from Petty Wood set out on a quest to develop a chilli sauce with the aid of James Moulson, an experienced development chef. James created some brilliant sauces for the John’s to try and so they paid him a visit with keen interest. James explained that the best way for them to try the sauces was to cook plain popcorn kernels and mix them into the sauce. Once John and John tried the Naga Chilli sauce on the popcorn they realised that in their hands was a better product than the sauce they were originally looking for and therefore Epic Snax was born!
This Naga Chilli popcorn is unlike any other popcorn on the market, it hasn’t just got a sprinkle of chilli to add a kick, this is seriously hot! We spent a long time developing how to best transfer heat and flavour in this popcorn and move it on from its saucy beginnings. What Epic Snax offers in the Naga Chilli popcorn is a buttery taste with a gradual build of heat, it isn’t going to ruin your taste buds after the first piece but offers chilli lovers a moreish snack, which is truly Epic.
Yes, the Epic Camper has been pretty well travelled this summer! We have been to Cheese and Chilli festivals in the South and other events but our favourite festival so far was Boardmasters Festival in Newquay. It was great to see people enjoying a fresh tub of Epic Snax in the sunshine, taking in some amazing music! The Epic Camper is well loved so people really enjoyed seeing that around the site! It’s great being able to offer so many people a chance to try your product, especially when you get the chance to surprise them with unusual flavours such as Naga Chilli and Peanut Butter, people love trying something new!
Our favourite hot sauce has got to be Mr Singh’s Hot Punjabi Chilli Sauce; it can be used as a dip, cooking sauce or marinade and really delivers on taste as well as heat. We’ve followed the brand on social media and they seem like a great family with some great products.
The Extra Hot Chilli Jelly featured in August's Hot Sauce Club subscription box was produced by Chilliqueen, perhaps one of the longest running chilli businesses in the UK.
The history of the company and of this particular product is very interesting, we reached out to the team for the back story.
In 1995 during a trip to Florida, Lee Everett, ex-wife of Kenny Everett and her husband John, tasted a chilli jelly at a business reception. Back in the UK she spent months experimenting to replicate the wonderful flavour they had experienced.
It was a long learning curve as the secret of the flavour was Scotch Bonnet Chillies and at that time they were very rare and not readily available. Eventually they were tracked down in the Caribbean section of Shepherds Bush market in London. Fifteen years later Scotch Bonnet are available in supermarkets and have almost become a staple ingredient in the UK. From then on whenever Lee cooked a batch, family and friends simply took it away! It was clear Lee was onto something so together with husband John, they began production in a small cottage industry way to supply the local village shop, pub and restaurant. They called the company “Chilliqueen” the nickname Kenny Everett had given Lee years before.
Things grew from there and in April 2000 the first commercial run was produced under the auspices of the English Provender Company. After EPC was purchased by Billingtons, production was moved to other suitable manufacturers.
Over the following years Chilliqueen's jellies garnered three Gold awards and a Silver at the Great Taste Awards. In 2015 it again won gold for the Coriander & Shallot chilli jelly.
Established in 1998 Chilliqueen can rightly claim to be the oldest independent chilli based condiment manufacturer in the UK. The “Extra Hot” Chilliqueen jelly included in the August Hot Sauce Club box was actually brought about by Elton John, a lover of spicy food who requested a hotter version of the “Original”. Over the years it has become one of the best sellers in the range, although we are thinking hard about what to call it when we re-print the labels. Over the last decade the UK palette has become more used to hotter and hotter ingredients so “Extra Hot” is no longer apt!
As contributors of two very fine hot sauces to our August subscription, we spent some time to catch up with Alex and Louise from the Upton Cheyney Chilli Company.
After working in the family ‘printing ink’ business since the age of 12, Alex had come to a stage in life where the smell of ink and the constant whining of lithographic printers had become too much. He saw an opportunity to start an IBC tank recycling business (Toucan Environmental) and in 2007 somehow managed to persuade David Hawking of Manor Farm, Upton Cheyney to let him rent some yard space.
Alex soon got roped in to helping move the animals and realised a passion for farming. It was at this stage that he asked David if he could put up a poly tunnel and grow some chillies. David kinda laughed and thought it was all a bit mad but we agreed and the Upton Cheyney Chilli Company was born in the winter of 2008.
At this stage it was not really a business. Just a bit of fun. Sure enough though people started to visit and we held our first chilli festival on a lovely sunny day in August 2008. 500 people attended. Whiz forward to the present and it’s been a really rather exciting journey, as the chilli company has flourished and expanded to a total of 12,000 sq/ft of poly-tunnel space. We have enjoyed winning numerous awards, as well as appearing on Country File and Blue Peter. We are one of the few chilli farms in the country and take great pride in what we do. This year’s chilli festival is expected to attract 10,000 people. All from a crazy idea that was born out of an escape from the printing industry!
If Jim Morrison was alive today he would no doubt knock it back in one!
The Mango and Lime has won numerous awards (Great Taste Gold and Taste of the West Gold). It is a very fresh, crisp tasting sauce with a double kick of flavours. The first kick is a citrus whack followed shortly after by the chilli rush. It’s a medium heat sauce that is delicious with cheese.
The End is the hottest sauce in our range and is a Jim Morrison of The Doors tribute sauce. Alex is a massive Doors fan and the tribute sauce seemed fitting. There are numerous reasons why The End relates to Jim Morrison and The Doors – some on the label, some in the ingredients and others more carefully hidden within the packaging! Based on carrots and onions and without any sugar, the Ghost Pepper gives a super warm but not unpleasant burn, exacerbated by the Jack Daniels Bourbon. It’s a lovely thick sauce that we use to add flavor to Chilli Con Carne. Its great for dipping chips into as well and if Jim Morrison was alive today he would no doubt knock it back in one!
The festival is in its 7th year and was voted the best chilli festival of 2014 by the Peoples Vote run by the Clifton Chilli Club. It’s a festival of chilli fun with lots of music and kids entertainment. We have secured Sicknote Steve and The Wurzels for this years event.
I have so many favourite hot sauces! I think The Philosophers Dew from the Chilli Alchemist has got to be one of my all-time favorites – mainly because it is so very different!
This week we take some time out to speak with Carrie, owner and chutney expert of Ladle and Larder fame. The July hot sauce subscription boxes include one of their most delicious offering, the Scotch Bonnet Chilli Chutney.
I think like many people, after uni I came to London and just "fell" into a career. I enjoyed the world of Online Marketing to begin with but after 6 years of climbing the career ladder I took a step back & asked myself "is this really the path I want to take"?
I grew up within a family run business which my father chaired up until recently when my brother took over the reigns. Despite having the opportunity to enter the business I was more driven to start my own venture, I just wasn’t quite sure which industry/product route to follow.
It was the Christmas of 2012 when the eureka moment came. I was struggling with gift ideas so thought that I would make family/friends hampers filled with homemade treats. The chutneys went down a storm and people were asking where they could buy more, not realising I had in fact made them. The eureka moment had arrived! I really enjoyed the process of making the products and creating something tangible that people loved, Ladle and Larder was born!
"If he dared to bring any other hot sauce into our flat his life probably wouldn't be worth living!"
My business has been going for 2 years now & is still run out of my flat in South East London. The thing that makes Ladle & Larder stand out is the products versatility, we aim to dispel the myth that chutneys are only eaten with cheese boards. Our range of flavours compliment any plate whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner and the products can even be incorporated into the cooking process.
Currently there are 6 flavours in the range with a Christmas chutney available to buy from October through to December. I'm going to be experimenting with some new flavours in the new year & may also look to expand into other types of condiments in the near future.
The Scotch Bonnet Chilli Chutney continues to be my best seller & it is also the most versatile - it works as a fantastic marinade, tastes great added to a Stir Fry or Chilli & can be a great 'hot' substitute for the good old cupboard classic, ketchup. My fiancé stands testament to the ketchup comment, as he literally has it with everything……he’s a big chilli fan!
I usually start prepping the veg/fruit early in the morning so I can get my 3 large pans bubbling away as early as possible. All of this takes place in our conservatory with the doors & windows wide open so the powerful smell of vinegar & onions escape the rest of the flat ... & in particular my fiances work shirts which according to him "have never quite smelled the same" since I started! Once ready the jars are sterilized in my new & much loved dishwasher before being dried in the oven & filled with the hot chutney.
This is a tricky question to answer because I have to be honest, I can't bring myself to buy any other hot sauce as it feels like I'm "cheating" on my baby Ladle & Larder ... my fiance also knows that if he dared to bring any other hot sauce into our flat his life probably wouldn't be worth living! Although not a hot sauce, I have to say I am partial to some wasabi peas with a nice glass of wine of an evening. My parents recently brought some fiery little numbers back from France & they were out of this world.
When my husband, Peter Seymour, and I started Chilli Pepper Pete in 2002 most people approached chilli with extreme trepidation. However, 15 years on, we have built up a growing customer base, all clamouring for the tastiest and the hottest chilli products we offer.
We had already been using different chilli varieties in our ready-cooked frozen meals (The B.Right.On Food Co) and selling the surplus dried chillies so we knew that there was an interest out there so we set out to educate consumers at farmers’ markets and food fairs. Gradually, we saw a change – people stopped saying they were scared of chillies and started to tell us how much they loved chillies but couldn’t find anything tasty enough and hot enough! We were happy to oblige and Dragon’s Blood was born.
Chilli Pepper Pete Ltd boasts many 'firsts' in the world of chillies - first to bring the Naga Ghost Chilli from Nagaland to the UK, Europe & USA. We also introduced the UK's first extreme heat sauce, Dragon's Blood, now a cult amongst chilli lovers and our major seller.
Our aim from the outset has been to educate people in the joys of chilli as well as encouraging other like-minded companies to join the chilli community. For this reason, we set up the Fiery Foods UK Chilli Festival. Now in its seventh year, the Fiery Foods UK Chilli-Eating Contest (replicated around the UK) has featured on a number of TV programmes: 'Pleasure & Pain with Michael Mosley' (BBC1, Jan 2011), 'All You Can Eat' (ITV, March 2012) and the FFUK Amateur Sauce Contest as seen on BBC's 'Country Cook-Off' with celebrity chefs Valentine Warner and Ed Baines. Chilli Pepper Pete Ltd has won the National Chilli Awards Best UK Chilli Company 2010, 2011 & 2012. Chilli Pepper Pete Ltd sold the show this year and it promises to be a wonderful legacy of the UK’s top chilli company.
Chilli Pepper Pete was also the first company to open a shop dedicated to chillies, originally in 2009 at The Brighton Marina before moving to central Brighton in 2011. It quickly became the Mecca for chilliheads with a national and international clientele. The shop was sold in 2014 but continues to trade as a thriving chilli shop.
Sadly, in August 2012 Peter Seymour died, and after much soul-searching regarding the way forward, I decided to give the company a radical shake-up and, hopefully, take Chilli Pepper Pete Ltd from a 'cottage industry' to a mainstream retail supplier. To this end, the first task was to re-brand our six best sauces under the name of our best-selling product, Dragon's Blood. Not only is this particular sauce iconic in its own right but, since the re-branding, has become the key ingredient in the unique “Dragon’s Fury” sausage and “Dragon’s Egg” Scotch Egg. These products are the brainchild of Paul Turner of Alf Turner Butchers Ltd. Paul Turner won the money of celebrity entrepreneur Peter Jones of the BBC TV’s “Dragon’s Den” where businesses pitch their idea for an investment from the Dragons. It was entirely appropriate that Paul Turner should win the investment with a product using our Dragon’s Blood Original Mega Hot Sauce. Since then, his two main Dragon’s products are in all the major supermarkets with very attractive projections for the next two years. We also supply a Dragon’s Blood Spice Blend to Black Country Snacks who produce Alf Turner Pork Scratchings. There is further product development in the pipeline, with negotiations taking place with a major chicken processor/retailer.
Chilli Pepper Pete Ltd continues to forge good relationships with chilli suppliers, particularly with Naga Ghost Chilli growers in Nagaland, the home of the Naga chilli. We work directly with the farmers in Nagaland to ensure a fair price for their product.
My fave hot sauce other than our own, is a big brand I'm afraid to say - Patak's mixed chilli pickle. The sourness is addictive, and the heat is just right. I can't get enough of it - I love the Karamda in it too!