Happy tuesday, folks. Today’s review has been a long time coming.
This particular jar was found at a food festival by my buddy, 📽️ Lord Grim 📽️, but I’ve known about the Chilli Jam Man for longer than I’ve had this blog.
Because, while I don’t know what festival my jar of bhut jam came from, it really doesn’t matter. The Chilli Jam Man is one of the biggest names in artisan fiery food, possibly even the biggest, and you can find him and his “jambassadors” at just about every food-themed event this side of london. His coverage is a wonder to behold.
But it’s not just the one jar that I have from him, today. No, I picked up a couple, myself, to round out the range and better showcase his brand:
His labels are nothing too complex – The winking chilli of his logo being their only art – yet the thermometer on the right of every jar and the colour of his bold, white-outlined text give us plenty of indication of their strength, at least.
And, honestly, those reds and yellows look pretty darn good against his black backgrounds.
I like them but they don’t tell us much beyond the intensity, so let’s crack them open for a taste.
This spoonful is of his bhut jolokia but you’d never know if I didn’t tell you. All three are the same dark, reddish brown with a similar thickness, texturing and occasional seed content. You cannot tell them apart by sight, yet you most definitely can by taste.
The scotch bonnet variety is my favourite of his line-up. Lightly sweet, rich and slightly umami-ish, with a dried red fruit undertone from its signature peppers. The sweetened red wine vinegar compliments that fruitiness, while adding a bit of tang, and a touch of ginger, while subtle, rounds out the end as the heat takes hold.
An enjoyable low
to be precise, that marks the midpoint of the Chilli Jam Man’s range.
It’s bold, flavourful and has a good kick to it. The only thing that I don’t like is its ingredients list:
Tomato, Sugar, Red Wine Vinegar, Chilli (11%)[Habanero], Garlic, Ginger, Balsamic Vinegar
Because, much as there may have been some interbreeding in the past, scotch bonnets are no more habaneros than seven pots are. They have their own distinct flavour and that is, without a doubt, what I taste in this first jam.
Yet that brings me to another point. The Chilli Jam Man’s chillies haven’t always been this recognisable. In my early days, his jams contained anchovy but, now that they’re getting their umami notes from tinned tomatoes, his cooking times are shorter and the fresh flavours of the peppers can really shine.
Sometimes, going vegan can do more than simply make your products more inclusive.
Moving on to the bhut, though – Today’s solitary red label – we have a richer, darker-tasting jam with subtle notes of a more traditional red pepper flavour and a real slow grow to its
It isn’t that much stronger and the jam base is identical but the flavour and burn of its peppers is completely different. Not nearly as fruity or as sudden but thoroughly enjoyable in a different manner. Here’s what goes into it:
Tomato, Sugar, Red Wine Vinegar, Garlic, Ginger, Balsamic Vinegar, Chilli (1%)[Bhut Jolokia]
No inaccuracies here but a lot less pepper, which might be why it’s rather less hot than most ghost pepper sauces.
And, onto the final one, we have the mildest of today’s three. A “Gorgeous Garlic” jam that comes in at a mere
and builds only to the high end of that number.
It comes across a little sweeter than the others, with a more typical red pepper flavour to finish, rather than their ginger. Because, wouldn’t you know it, that ginger’s gone from this one. Replaced, instead, by extra garlic.
Tomato, Sugar, Red Wine Vinegar, Garlic(10%), Chilli (3.4%), Balsamic Vinegar
And, while that ingredients list doesn’t tell us exactly what chilli is in this jam, it’s definitely a red finger variety of some sort. I can taste that much.
Simon Barrett, the man behind the brand, recommends this one, in particular, for adding to bolognese and arrabiata sauces, because its lack of ginger means that it won’t interfere with their italian flavours. Personally, though, I’d be happy to use any of these there or in a whole host of other places.
Cheese sandwiches are the obvious choice but they work great as a burger relish, too, or in stir-frys. Sausages and soups come highly recommended, as well, and I’m quite a fan of chucking them over meats or tofu twenty to thirty minutes before they come out of the oven for a sweet, sticky, chilli glaze.
These aren’t the sort of jam that you’d put on toast in the morning, layer your victoria sponge cake with or stir into porridge but they have a whole host of more savoury uses that I’m sure you’ll all enjoy.