Hey everyone, you remember The Mini Jar Company, right? Well today I’m featuring them and them alone, with a couple more little jars from Reading:
To be more specific, I have for you their Pineapple, Chilli And Mint Salsa and their Ginger & Wasabi Chutney, the latter of which doesn’t actually contain any chilli.
Between the mint in the salsa and the rhizomes in the chutney, though, both of these items focus on the sensation they create, along with their flavour. These aren’t heatless like that one marinade that Mahi sent me. They’re just a little different from the norm.
And that, my friends, is what I try my best to represent. Spice products after my own heart.
So, let’s get into the review.
To start with, I’m not going to be talking too much about who The Mini Jar Company are. I linked my review of their peanut butter right at the start of this post and that holds everything you need to know for now. Including where to get bigger jars of their stuff, should you want.
And nor am I going to spend long on their plain, white, paper labels. I’m just going to tell you that they do a great job of showing us what the products are about.
One displays a chunky, red and yellow salsa with a green leaf on top and the other the wasabi that makes it special. Aside from that, though, they’re just plain, black text.
What I do intent to take my time with, however, is the contents of each jar:
The salsa is as chunky as it looks from the label, with pieces of pineapple, onion and red pepper that are more than half a centimetre across. There are thin shreds of herb strewn throughout, as well, which we can assume are the mint, but what really catches my attention are the balls that I see in it. Whole green peppercorns, according to the ingredients list:
Pineapple (57.3%), Cider Vinegar (14.8%), Onions (7.4%), Pineapple Juice (5.9%), Sugar (5.2%), Red Peppers (4.4%), Lemon Juice (3%), Arrowroot (0.89%), Scotch Bonnet Chilli (0.3%), Salt (0.24%), Green Peppercorns (0.2%), Turmeric (0.2%), Mustard Seeds (0.19%), Dried Mint (0.16%)
And let me tell you now, it does not taste only 0.3% chilli.
What about the chutney, though? Today’s wasabi product?
Well, that one’s more mushed together into a light pinky, greeny, browny colour that resembles its key ingredients but doesn’t exactly lend itself well to description.
I do spy some whole raisins, however, along with the occasional chunk of cucumber or red pepper. Which is, as I already mentioned, definitely not chilli. Here’s what’s in this one:
Rice Vinegar (29.3%), Sugar (14.7%), Ginger (13.2%), Lemons (8.8%), Red Pepper (8.8%), Raisins (7.3%), Onions (7.3%), Cucumber (7.3%), English Grown Wasabi & Wasabi Paste (2.9%), Salt (0.23%)
And sure, 2.9% may not seem like a lot, especially once you realise that the paste isn’t necessarily all actual wasabi, but the average store bought wasabi powder is less than 1% the real deal. And, whether it’s all real wasabi or not, it’s liable to be mostly such.
You see, The Mini Jar Company get their wasabi straight from The Wasabi Company, who are, to my knowledge, the only commercial growers of the real deal in the UK. They pride themselves on getting genuine wasabi and other japanese ingredients to you as fresh as possible and without the usual bulking agents.
They’re where my wasabi came from when I was on stage at the Yorkshire Food and Drink Show.
And yeah, ok, they do still use horseradish in some of their wasabi products but not nearly as much as anyone else and only because 100% genuine wasabi oxidises way too fast.
So, while I cannot say such with complete certainty, I am still fairly sure that there’s more genuine wasabi in this chutney than what even most asian stores put in their “wasabi” powder.
Anyway, getting back to my nice full spoons, the fact that I can pile them so high speaks volumes about today’s products. You can really get an idea of how thick and chunky they are and how well their liquid content clings to the rest just by looking at them.
That’s a good, mess-free, yet satisfying texture for a salsa, while the chutney should still spread excellently over cheese and meats.
Though, while I would still use it in similar ways, this isn’t your average chutney. It’s got sweet raisins, lemon and tangy little cucumber “gherkins” in, giving it all the usual sweetened tang without the tomato and chilli base.
Its ginger, on the other hand, is relatively common but, again, it’s not usually this prominent or well infused throughout. You can taste it in every part of this chutney, whereas the wasabi’s a good deal subtler and doesn’t make it into the larger chunks at all.
Between the two of them, they reach a low
or at least warmth, on the tongue and around the upper edges of the mouth. Yet that initial burst of wasabi that I was looking for is all too subtle to come out over the vinegar tang.
I do understand why it’s lacking, since real wasabi is neither cheap nor easy to grow, but I definitely wanted more from this little jar. I’ll still enjoy it, of course, but it’s a bit disheartening that my first non-chilli spice product in a while has fallen so short.
Unlike today’s other item which, as I mentioned up above, vastly exceeded my heat expectations with a
that mostly strikes the back of my throat.
One that comes in quickly on the back of the salsa’s more herbal notes, as though the pepper and chilli are building on the colder sensation provided by the dried mint. Which may well be why I’m getting such an unusual mouth feel from this product.
It’s almost nettle-like but not in a bad way. Very different from the usual scotch bonnet burn but also more bristly than the stinging heat of a habanero and with a staying power quite unlike 0.3% of either.
In terms of flavour, it’s oddly not sweet, owing largely to the turmeric and peppercorn overtones that offset the pineapple with dry, almost herbal notes. The mint, of course, only complimenting this almost herbal element with its own, more subtle, green leafiness.
It’s immediately obvious that it’s mostly pineapple but, between its savoury herb and spice element and its quite distinctive sensation in the mouth, it’s definitely not the pineapple that I know and was expecting.
It is, however, a good counterpart to the sweeter, more tangy chutney and that item’s surprisingly gentle rootiness.
Neither one was exactly what I expected but both still made a nice dip for my tortilla chips.