Hey folks, it’s nearly valentines day so, this week, I’m going for a themed review of Love Pickle.
It’s a simple brand with a single family recipe, based on indian classics and tweaked to hit five different heat levels – Everything from mild to super hot, if their labels are to be believed.
There are a couple of offshoot brands as well, in the form of Love Chilli and Love Chutney but, for now, I’m going to stick with the slightly questionably named original range and bring you its green and blue label variants.
The mildest and hottest that they have to offer.
Both jars have been adorned with a simple oval of colour, outlined in white to match the text, yet both break from that simplicity slightly to include a great taste award sticker on the upper left side. Stickers that should, in theory, indicate a level of quality to the contents but still don’t tell us much about their actual flavour.
No, for that we are required to read a little. To see the snippets of text that say “authentic indian” and “premium chilli tomato pickle”.
And, of course, I’m not illiterate. Reading isn’t the end of the world. It’s just an extra little hoop for customers to jump through before they understand your product.
But, as I’ve mentioned before, I know a few people on the retail side of the chilli world and you’d be surprised how much of a difference a little visual cue can make to sales.
That said, though, I’m not a salesman or producer myself and nor, I suspect, are most of you. You’re not here to hear my thoughts on branding and they aren’t my main interest, either.
I do find the company’s heart-dotted Is endearing but what I really care about are the contents of these jars. Two indian-style pickles so visually similar that I can’t tell them apart once they’re on my spoons. So I’m only going to show you the one:
And, likewise, they only have one ingredients list between them:
Tomatoes (50%), Vinegar, Blended Mustard Oil, Mustard Seed, Ginger, Garlic, Chilli, Salt and Spices.
They’re fairly thin, for their product-type, with a bit of a liquid element to them, but they’re also filled with mustard seeds and what looks to be blended fenugreek. As well as numerous chunks of tomato, garlic and ginger, all strewn throughout. Which you might think would give them a rough texture and uneven distribution of flavour but no.
The light, earthy taste of their mustard oil mixes with the gentle tang of an indistinct vinegar and spreads evenly throughout the entirety of each product. Carrying with them the richer, almost nutty flavour of a dry spice base.
One which comes across rather more in the “super hot” blue label than the “mild” green. So I’d guess that it’s at least partly from their choice of pepper. Not that I can tell which one they’ve used.
Overall, the taste of both pickles is very similar, however, if a little different to what I expected.
I’ve described it as “dry”, like a wine connoisseur might a describe a bottle that’s very pointedly not sweet, but it doesn’t have much actual bitterness at all. It doesn’t have that almost marmalade-like fruit peel element that you get in a lot of indian pickles and, if its chillies are green, the tomatoes have counteracted all of their underripe qualities.
As someone who doesn’t like a lot of indian pickles, the Love Pickle range is something special for me. Full of mellowed-out spice and mustard flavours, like you’d expect from good indian cooking, but without the normally overbearing bitterness and acidity. Or, for that matter, the floral taste of the mustard seeds.
The green has a little warmth in the throat, worthy of the high end of mild. My
While the blue falls a tad shy of its given “super hot” rating but still grows to the very bottom of a
Hot, even if it could be hotter. I can work with that.
There’s only one real disappointment for me with these products and it doesn’t become obvious until I start making meals with them.
You see, being less acidic and lacking in bitterness aren’t the only differences between these indian pickles and the standard sort. Part of what’s led to the change in flavour is a lack of fresh ingredients.
And no, that’s not a slight on the company. I don’t doubt that they source the best. All I’m saying is that the thoroughly consistent, mellowed-out flavour here comes, at least in part, from cooking those ingredients down.
They may very well be fresh going in, but they’re almost mush by the time they reach the jar.
There’s no physical bite to these products, even in their visible chunks. They don’t give that satisfying texture to my cheese sandwiches and they won’t add any to your curries, either.
They aren’t perfect and, if I’m objective about it, they probably won’t seem quite as special to those who like a normal indian pickle, but they are what they are and you can easily fix the problem with a bit more veg in your curry or a few tortilla chips in your lunch.
Plus, there is an upside: They’ll work as a marinade. Why not spice up your ham, chicken or cauliflower by letting their flavour seep in?
They are, when all is said and done, pretty good pickles. Worth giving a go, if nothing else, but not really worth getting more than one of. Largely because the taste is oh so similar across the five varieties.
Just go for whichever strength suits you best and enjoy.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll love them.