Guten tag, mien freunde. I am, as you all know, a UK chilli reviewer, but not everything that I review comes from the UK.
Today’s review is of a little something that was given to one of my retail friends by their german supplier. One of their own-brand sauces that couldn’t legally be sold over here with out an english ingredients list.
This is Scovilla’s Bio-Habanero:
And I can read enough german to tell you that its contents are super unusual.
Yet its narrow-necked bottle, diamond label and minimalist colour scheme all hint at something else. A clear similarity in style to a certain market leader. You know the one.
This is Scovilla’s take on a louisiana-style sauce. A vinegar-heavy blend featuring fermented chilli and very few other ingredients. Essentially a habanero Tabasco with a twist.
Here’s what goes into it:
Chili, Wasser, Bananenessig, Salz
And if you, like me, speak any german at all, you’re probably pretty baffled by that third ingredient. For the rest of you, here’s my translation:
Chilli, Water, Banana Vinegar, Salt
And I had never heard of such a vinegar before.
I read it, reread it, googled it and did everything I could to double check what I had read. It was real.
It was, however, slightly different from what I had imagined. Not a vinegar made from fermented banana, as such, but one made from water with banana peel soaked in.
It’s not sweet, it’s savoury and rich. Rather tomato-like, when I try it in the sauce.
Only the tiniest hint of actual banana comes through and the rest – That cooked down, almost umami-ish, tomato flavour – makes a world of difference to the end product.
Scovilla’s Bio-Habanero has that same orange habanero brightness that you get in its mass market counterpart but, unlike Habanero Tabasco, it’s not got that oaky hint along with it and the vinegar doesn’t play up the sharp, fresh side of the chilli’s flavour.
Instead, it’s almost downplayed by the tomato-like flavours of the fermented banana-water that preserves it. That rich, savoury, fruity quality being what takes centre stage, bolstered by the actual pepperiness of the peppers.
I’m almost inclined to say that they’d be better off using scotch bonnet but that’s not to say that the sauce that they have made is a bad one. And, in fact, not playing up the same elements as its mass market counterpart probably works in its favour.
Today’s item isn’t something that I would choose to pay import prices for but it is a unique blend that highlights the potential of a most unorthodox ingredient.
If you happen to live in germany and enjoy vinegar-forward sauces, it may well be worth giving a go. Especially if you find their biologically controlled growing methods a moral plus.
I’d love to speak more on that but, unfortunately, I can’t. I just don’t know enough of the language to properly translate their words and I’d hate to do them a disservice.
Instead, just know that I’m going to be thinking long and hard about how else this new vinegar can be used as I work my way through the rest of Scovilla’s low