Pulling the Pin

Greetings again everybody. Last week I showed you a hotter, more sophisticated and way more citrusy take on habanero Tabasco. An item that prided itself on achieving a complexity of flavour with one of the simplest ingredients lists that I’ve ever laid eyes upon.

A simple, familiar, louisiana-style sauce, properly aged and fermented to get the most out of its peppers.

Today, we’re taking that same concept and applying it to a chilli that I’ve never seen used before – Green cayenne.

We’re looking at The General’s Hot Sauce and their Marine Green, complete with a pretty stunning and weighty, grenade-shaped bottle:

Marine

A custom container that I’m sure has sold many a sauce of theirs, state side, but has also upped the costs involved quite substantially. I don’t normally talk about price but this particular product is going for £12.99, after import, from Hot-Headz and, at that price, you’re gonna want to be sure that you’re getting your money’s worth.

So, unless you’re prepared to drop double digits on a(n admittedly stellar-looking) bottle alone, I strongly suggest that you read on to find out what makes this week’s item special.

First, of course, is that choice of chilli – A popular, medium-heat strain in a colour that’s not commonly eaten. Something that’s sure to provide an unusual flavour.

But there’s more to today’s product than just being a green sauce from an atypical green chilli. It is also, as I mentioned up above, an aged and fermented sauce. Which, if you weren’t aware, means that the peppers have been allowed to sit for months on end before cooking, so that the yeast-like lactobacillus can transform what little sugars that they possess into lactic acid.

This particular form of fermentation does not produce alcohol but the lactobacillus bacteria will still be killed off if the acidity gets too high, making the mechanics of it very similar to beer brewing. Both are self-limiting, sugar-consuming, natural preservative-generating processes driven by harmless micro-organisms. This one just won’t get you drunk.

Instead, the lactic acid produced fills the same role as vinegar, meaning that Smoke Hall Foods (makers of The General’s Hot Sauce) can get away with a far higher chilli content and still keep their product acidic enough to survive.

Fermentation, itself, subtly alters the taste of a sauce and adding secondary ingredients during the process causes a wonderful melding of flavours but it also brings us to the third selling point: The chilli content.

The Mean Green doesn’t just use an unusual pepper, it uses a tonne of it. This sauce is a whopping 86% cayenne and it can only be so because of the acid that fermentation produces.

Without that, it would require an absolute minimum of 20% vinegar to keep it from going off and you’d have to make room for the garlic as well. I would expect 70% pepper at most from a non-fermented version of today’s product, which may not sound like a big difference but is, upon closer inspection, double the non-chilli ingredients.

Until I’ve tried this sauce, I can’t say much about its flavour but I can say this: It is definitely going to be chilli forward!

Now, let’s crack it open:

marinecap

I don’t know about you but that’s not what I was expecting. I was expecting a press-on lid, not a screw-top.

And, while there’s a familiar, salted cayenne element to its aroma, the main body is very earthy, rich, green and not quite herbal. Almost but again, not quite reminiscent of bay or curry leaves.

Its taste, when I pour myself a spoonful, is tart and almost citrusy, again, yet still very green, savoury and just a little bit bitter. Its earthy, woody and chlorophyllic – Which is to say, somewhat leaf-like – in a way that few, if any, of the other products that I’ve tasted have been, and it is, quite simply, a unique flavour.

It isn’t one that I particularly enjoy on its own but it’s going to go very nicely with roasted or stir-fried veg, where their slight sweetness can offset its tangy and bitter elements, and I’d definitely recommend such a well-matured, green chilli flavour with some equally rich, dark meat like beef, pork or lamb.

Or, if you’d rather its intense taste be tempered down a little, why not try mixing it into hot butter and adding dash of jalapeño powder to make a green version of buffalo wing sauce? I’m sure you won’t regret it.

And, because it is so strong in taste, I’m actually glad that its flow-restricting cap lets out only a tiny blob at a time. It makes it far easier to mix into meals.

greendot

In terms of spice, though, its strength isn’t nearly so overbearing. It sits at the very bottom of my

3.5/10

Heat

with a pleasant, creeping, annuum-type heat that lacks the usual soapy quality but still packs the sharpness of a fresh jalapeño or a bird’s eye product.

It’s high enough up my scale to technically be considered “hot” but, in the quantities that you’ll use it, I’d say that Mean Green should be treated more like a medium-strength product. Hot enough to satisfy but not liable to test even the average person. Just a nice, enjoyable level.

The company do make hotter, should you be interested, but this particular item – The mildest in the The General’s Hot Sauce range from Smoke Hall Foods – caught my attention with how different it was and how, unlike the others in their line-up, it actually had the colour to look like a grenade.

The colour of the chilli, showing through the crossed squares of the bottle’s main body isn’t quite the right shade of green but it’s pretty darn close and the long-handled lid is just perfect. Their bold choice of font for the few places where text is required and the fact that every label is green and white on black really completes the look.

Even the slogan, “A great sauce for the greater good.”, is perfect for this product’s american military feel so, even though I hate the self-righteous attitude that it’s referencing, I can’t help but admire it and the metal dog tag that it adorns.

grenadetag

If I didn’t know that the sauce inside took roughly half a year to produce, I’d think that they’d spent more time on the packaging than anything else.

Here’s what goes into it:

Louisiana Cayenne Peppers, Distilled White Vinegar, Salt, Garlic

A pretty simple list that doesn’t really do justice to the complexity of the contents.

Would I recommend them, though?

I don’t know. This sauce gets a solid “maybe” from me, depending very much upon your own palate.

I’m not a big fan of more bitter flavours so I’ll be using this bottle sparingly and I won’t be forking out the big money for another. Yet I will, with the right applications, be enjoying what I have a fair bit.

If you, like me, appreciate a green sauce that isn’t mostly coriander, you’ll probably enjoy it, too. And, if you have a little less of a sweet tooth, you’ll probably get a good deal more out of it than I do.

Ultimately, though, it’s far from cheap and, at 180ml, you only get 20% more for that money than you would with a more normal bottle so you, or whoever you buy it for, is/are going to have to get a lot out of it to make it worthwhile.

Yet, for some, getting your money’s worth might still be a simple as keeping it on a shelf in a collection. I certainly know that this one’s going to look something special in the back of my video reviews.

grenadeside

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