Hello again, heat eaters!
Today, I have a rather unusual feature for you all. One which, unlike most of my finds, comes from a local supermarket and a very well known brand.
You see, I got a bit of a tip-off, recently. One of my readers mentioned that they’d seen a new carolina reaper sauce, in the wild, from one of Encona’s caribbean-style rivals. And I got curious.
But what really sold me on this particular product was actually its ingredients list:
Carolina Reaper Peppers (60%), Water, Sugar Cane Vinegar, Salt, Onion, Limes, Garlic, Antioxidant: Ascorbic Acid, Thickener: Xanthan Gum
Sixty percent reaper, at big brand prices, is completely unheard of! So, if Tropical Sun can deliver on everything that the number implies, this isn’t just going to be a hell of a hot sauce. It’s going to be a complete game changer!
Now, to be clear, Tropical Sun are not a caribbean brand. They’re commonly found in the world food section but their sauces are made here, in the UK.
They, like Encona, are simply heavily influenced by caribbean cooking styles and have based their branding around that fact. Though it’s far less obvious on this particular product.
Their usual island imagery has been replaced by a solid black background, with realistic flames and a bold, red warning label around its base. And, while the sauce’s namesake contents still take centre stage, they’re all just a single, particularly mean-looking, reaper pepper, wreathed in smoke. Not anything evocative of the company’s signature cuisine.
Only their warm, gradient sun on green logo seems to convey any sense of island heat. Yet that and the tacky, yellow top banner, on which it rests, make their brand highly recognisable. Despite roughly seventy percent of the label bearing little resemblance to their other products.
So, generic as it may seem, this packaging actually gets across both the company and the intimidating chilli extremely well. But how are the contents?
Well, their consistency is great!
The sauce is thick, chunky and absolutely strewn with pieces of pepper – Much like several of the other high percentage reaper sauces that I’ve featured. Yet, despite that and the way in which it clings to my spoon, it never seems to clog the neck of the bottle for more than a moment.
There is xanthan gum in this sauce but only enough to hold it together. Its thickness appears to stem entirely from its purity, since it has none of the gumminess of Morrisons and Mahi‘s sauces. A fact that I am very happy about.
But I am still a little concerned about the amount of salt and acid on the list. So I am going to have to taste it, to get the full measure of its quality.
When it hits my tongue, this sauce is sharp and, as the burn begins, it quickly turns sour. Yet that’s all from the pepper, itself, not the vinegar, lime or ascorbic acid (vitamin C) that they’ve added. And it’s a good deal less offensive than the sourness of South Devon Chilli Farm’s equivalent.
I’m barely tasting the added salt or acid, at all, actually. Plus, what little I do get is rendered fresh and natural-flavoured by the green citrus. Although that freshness sadly isn’t echoed in the peppers, themselves, and it masks the more molassesy notes of the specific cane sugar vinegar that Tropical Sun have used.
You can’t have everything, however – Certainly not at this price point – and those are just minor nitpicks. It’s a darn good product, for the money.
Not quite as powerful, perhaps, as Hot-Headz’ 📽️Killer Carolina Reaper📽️ but definitely well within the same
heat bracket. And the mere fact that I’m comparing it to such artisan products goes to show just how badly it puts its main rival, Encona’s Carolina Reaper Sauce, to shame.
This full on, long-lasting, slow-growing and utterly intense tongue burn, bordering on the very limit of what the current world record chilli can provide, is not something that I ever expected to find in a supermarket sauce.
Not only is this a great showcase of an insanely powerful pepper but, because its flavour is almost nothing but the pepper’s own, it’ll also work wonderfully as a substitute for chilli mash in any of your home cooking. Or even amateur sauce making.
I am thrilled with this find and I’m sure that those of you who’re into the more extreme heats will love it just as much.
Just make sure, before you buy a bottle, that the company haven’t changed their ingredients from the list that I gave at the start. Because Encona already pulled such a scummy move on me and I cannot rule out the possibility of this company doing the same. Especially once they realise how much all of those reapers are actually costing them.
Should that come to pass, however, you can still find all of the other carolina reaper products that I’ve tried on the pepper’s encyclopedia page. You may have to spend a little more for the artisan sauces but there will always be something of this purity available.