Wild Finds

Welcome back, everyone, to yet another review of a generous company’s free samples.

This week, they’re from Foraged Fire, who, unlike my last two features, are entirely new to me. A company that I’d barely heard of, before their owner got in touch, but one that I’m super excited to show you.

Every single one of their products contains at least one major talking point. And I have three of them!

Each of these items is easily special enough to warrant its own post and, at any other time of year, I’d definitely split them up. But we’ve just entered into december and it’s mere days until my christmas recap. So I’m taking this opportunity to talk about all three because, if they’re as special as they sound, they’ll all deserve my holiday recommendation.

So, what is it that makes Tim Greaves’ company special?

Well, as its name implies, Tim is a forager. He prides himself on his use of rare, seasonal and, often-times, wild ingredients. Ingredients that, in many cases, you will never see in another company’s work because Tim has had to pluck them from the scottish landscape by hand.

As a result, very little of the Foraged Fire range is available year round and his main product is actually a subscription box, filled with crazy new creations, that delivers either once or twice a season.

Here’s one from twenty-twenty’s autumn collection:

Now I’m starting with this particular product because it’s the least interesting of the bunch. The company’s Caribbean Pepper sauce.

This one doesn’t contain anything native to Tim’s scottish home and the one rare fruit in its ingredients is simply a hybrid citrus, part way between a lemon and a lime but commonly known as the second of the two. So it’s not the pairing with wild ingredients that makes this sauce special. It’s the chillies.

This sauce uses three different types of chilli, two of which I’ve never seen in a sauce before. Here’s the full ingredients list:

Sugar Rush Cream Chillies (31%), Onion, Carrot, Garlic, MOA Scotch Bonnet Chillies (6%) Vinegar (Sulphites), Yellow Mustard (6%), 7-Pot Red Chillies (3.5%) Spring Onion, Tahitian Lime Juice (2.5%), Fresh Lemon Juice, Spices, Salt, Tahitian Lime Zest (1%), Mustard Powder, Garlic Powder.

Two deliciously fruity, hot caribbean peppers paired with the sweet, smooth and mild sugar rush, a fresh citrus zing, earthy mustard and a wide array of alliums. Let’s see how it tastes.

It’s a little salty, a little bit floral and just a tiny bit bitter, with a slow-growing tongue tip tingle and a throat burn peaking at a

heat on my scale.

What makes this sauce special, though, is none of that.

It’s the interplay between the chilli flavour, the earthiness of the mustard and dried garlic and the fresh tang of the lime-like hybrid citrus. As well as how the three chillies, themselves, come together to make a strong, red pepper flavour with the lighter, smoother notes of the sugar rush and hints of tropical fruit that could only come from the proper scotch bonnets that were bred by the jamaican ministry of agriculture.

That well thought out blend of unusual and high-quality peppers sets Tim’s sauce apart from even the most chilli forward of other caribbean-style sauces and I really think he’s done great work on this one. Aside from it being a touch more salty than I would personally prefer.

This one won’t replace Pepper Kitchen’s work as my favourite mustard-centric, caribbean-style sauce but its slightly different genre is going to make it rather more fitting for white fish, chicken and perhaps even beef. Either as a pour-on sauce or as a marinade, where the thickness seen on my spoon will really come into its own and let it cling to the meat.

Plus, that little floral peppery note is definitely going to complement a good jamaican patty.

Yet, as fantastic as autumn’s Caribbean Pepper Sauce may be, I am far more excited for summer. Because the summer of twenty-twenty gave us this:

Tim’s Fatalii Pepper sauce. A blend of a more well known, if still far from ordinary, chilli with cape gooseberry and wild salmonberry.

Now I’ve actually worked with cape gooseberries before, in my “lantern fruit” gulab jamun recipe. They’re an interesting fruit that bears no actual relation to a gooseberry but does have a similar size, shape, tang and acidity. As well as some subtle cooked tomato notes, even when raw, that betray their relation to the more common tomatillo.

In fact, they’re occasionally sold in supermarkets under the name “physalis”, which is the family name that both they and tomatillos share.

Yet, unlike tomatillos, they’re also bright-flavoured and have a quality about them that’s oddly close to, but not quite citrus. So I can see exactly how they might go with the citrus-like fatalii.

What I can’t predict, however, is how the salmonberries will play into that equation. Because, much as I’ve tried to research them, there’s not a lot of information to be found on their flavour.

All I know is that they’re a tart, wild, american relative of both blackberries and roses, with a salmony, orangey-pink colour and that they’ve more recently found a foothold in the scottish woodlands, as well.

I’m very curious to see what they bring to this sauce.

It’s thinner than the last, yet still a ways off being watery and, when inspected closely, yields ultra-fine shreds of what I can only assume are the yellow fatalii. A chilli which accounts for a good deal of the product’s strong, lightly fruity and highly citrussy smell.

I can tell without eating it that this is going to be a rather acidic sauce but even the aroma can’t properly prepare me for just how acidic it is. It’s positively full of cape gooseberry tartness, citrussy lactic acid, from the chilli fermentation, and a touch of vinegar, on top.

Tim calls it “well-balanced acidity” but I prefer the term “overbearing”.

The fatalii and cape gooseberries do go stunningly well together but there’s nothing to counterbalance just how acidic that pairing is and, sadly, I cannot pick out anything from the salmonberries at all. At least, not without knowing what flavour to look for.

If you like the taste of fresh cape gooseberries, you may well like this sauce a lot more than I do and, if so, I’d strongly recommend trying out the maker’s suggested pairings of fish tacos and ceviche.

But if you, like me, only enjoy the fruit as part of a dish, I highly doubt that this sauce will be for you. It’s powerfully acidic, with subtle hints of cooked tomato richness, just like the berries, and it’s at least as salty as the last one.

The same

heat, too. Though it’s a fair bit sharper up top and warms all of the way down, rather than stopping in the back of my throat.

Here’s what went into it:

Fatali Chillies (33%), Fermented Cape Gooseberry Puree (30%) (Cape Gooseberry 98%, salt), Distilled White Vinegar, Salmonberry (9%) (Rubus Spectabilis) , Garlic, Salt.

And I do like that the label lists the scientific name of the sauce’s rarest fruit. I just wish that I could taste more of it.

Our third product of the day, however, is almost nothing but rare fruit. So I’d be shocked if I couldn’t taste the namesake ingredient in Tim’s Wild Garlic “Capers”.

But wait, does that mean that garlic’s a fruit?

No, this product is entirely garlic free. It uses one of several other alliums that are commonly referred to as “wild garlic” or “ramsons”. Or “Ramps”, in america.

Several different species hold this name in the UK but the most well known is the broad-leafed “allium ursinum”, or “bear garlic”, which I’ve been eating all my life. And, while he doesn’t confirm it on the label, pictures of Tim’s process confirm that it’s what he uses, too. Yet this still isn’t quite the allium ursinum that I’m familiar with.

I eat the leaves. They have a deep, green, leafy flavour, with a fresh and zingy allium hit that is to garlic what spring onions are to regular onions. And, while they loose a lot of that in cooking, they are utterly delicious stirred through just-cooked pasta or thrown into a salad.

But their season only lasts about a fortnight before the plants flower and those leaves lose their flavour. At which point, the plants are considered worthless.

So imagine my surprise when I came across a jar of their seed pods – Essentially tiny wild garlic berries – pickled in the style of capers. An entirely new use for an entirely different part of the plant, which I never even knew was edible.

Will they taste like the wild garlic that I know, the garlic seeds that made Village on the Hill’s Chutney or the capers that they’re named after? All three are completely different flavours and these ramson seed pods could just as easily taste like none of the above.

I have no idea what to expect, when I dig in, aside from a fair bit of a kick from the carolina reaper infusing in the bottom of the jar:

I carefully avoid that and the similar ring which lurks beneath the lid, as I fill my spoon, so that I can best appreciate the main event.

For once, the chilli barely matters to me, because I’m so enthralled by the potential that these tiny plant nodes hold. Their intense aroma already hitting my nostrils and pushing my salivary glands into overdrive. I can’t contain my excitement any longer!

They’re savoury, planty and vaguely garlic-like, on the nose, with a bit of a vinegar tang. Yet, when they touch my tongue, it’s the sweet sherry of that vinegar that hits me first, not its sharpness. And the sun-kissed grapes of Tim’s particular PX sherry lend a dark, raisiny, christmas cake-like quality to his pickling for just an instant, before the wild garlic pods burst and overpower it.

Their flavour is intense, vastly exceeding what you might expect from something so small.

It begins with a dark, deep, wild salad leaf flavour that I know well but then smoothly transitions to a richer and even more savoury taste somewhere between that of allium ursinum and bold, fermented taste of pickled garlic.

Yet, despite that aged flavour, the zing of the vinegar and the carolina reaper, with which it’s been infused, helps draw out a touch of freshness, too. One which will work beautifully with white fish, perhaps in a lemon and butter sauce, like Tim suggests.

I’ve also found that these pickled seed pods add wonderful bursts of flavour to things like scrambled eggs and pizza – Though the more you cook them, the richer and less fresh they become – and they’re going to make an amazing canapé if you put them on cheese and crackers.

Personally, though, I’m looking forward to when the world opens up again and I can take them to my local sushi place. Because the rich, green, garlicky flavour of these fake capers seems like it would be truly divine over the almost meaty, melt in the mouth seafood that is unagi.

These are definitely my favourite of today’s three products and, interestingly enough, the least salty. Despite apparently being salted and fermented before they were pickled, they’re nothing like real capers and I enjoy them all the more for that.

They’re also the hottest of the three and, while they seemed like a four when I first opened the jar, they’ve clearly leached more capsaicin from their reaper slices since, now clocking in at a

heat that toys with the tip of my tongue and roof of my mouth, before finally going for the throat.

It’s quite possible that, if kept in the fridge for an extended period, these seed pods could become something extreme but, as is, one or two atop a cracker or a spoonful spread throughout a dish shouldn’t hurt too much. And that’s all that you need to appreciate their caviar-like pop of intense flavour.

They’re made from:

Wild Garlic Seed-Pods (75%), Carolina Reaper (12%), PX Sherry Vinegar (10%), salt.

A simple list which hide a tonne of complexity. I’d highly recommend them.

And, for that matter, I’d also highly recommend checking out their maker. Who you’ll soon see in the sidebar to your right. Or down below, on mobile.

Foraged Fire’s products have been very well made and even the one that I wasn’t so keen on showed a real understanding of how to highlight the flavour of its cape gooseberries. Tim sure knows how to work with rare fruit and I’m excited to see more from him, in the future.

If you want to see more from his chillies, though, you can check out my pages for the Carolina Reaper, Fatalii, 7-Pot Red, Sugar Rush Cream and MoA Scotch Bonnet right now. Because, thankfully, information isn’t seasonal.

5 thoughts on “Wild Finds

  1. glempsto December 1, 2020 / 9:16 am

    Despite being a lover of capers and ramsons, I had no idea that you could make ‘capers’ from their berries. I’ve tried making ‘English capers’ (pickled nasturtium seeds) but they were far too bitter and metallic for my tastes. These, however, sound much more like it, though I will probably leave out the reaper (at least for the first attempt)!
    Can’t wait for late spring early summer now!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s