Hey folks, it’s july already and we’re now well into the middle of summer. So I think that it might be time for a seasonal special, featuring my favourite wild leaf. And I’ll bet you have a pretty good idea of who’s provided it.
This time, though, Foraged Fire aren’t alone in offering up a stunning-sounding, wild garlic product. Their bramley apple salsa verde has some unexpected competition from another of our past partners: The Somerset Chilli Garden.
They’ve created a pale, jalapeño and lime blend with the exact same herb and today, I’m going to find out which sauce uses it better.
As usual, I’d like to start with the packaging but there’s not a tonne to talk about, on that front, today. Just a load of appropriately green text, from both producers, slapped onto a plain background that reflects each’s own, artisinal approach. Be it a clean, sophisticated, black logo on white, for Foraged Fire, or a light brown, crêpe paper label, to fit Somerset Chilli Garden’s more homely, down to earth feel.
In my personal opinion, I’d say that SCG’s shade of green does a slightly better job at representing the strong, dark, wild leaf in their Wild Fire. But neither says a lot about the contents, visually. So I’m going in for a closer look.
On the left, we have Foraged Fire’s Salsa verde, looking oh so thin and a little bit murky-coloured. Still very much a green sauce but littered with shreds of fruit and chilli skins. Some of which seem far redder than the sauce, itself.
Whereas, over on the right, Somerset Chilli Garden’s Wild Fire is far lighter and thicker, holding its shape on my spoon and possessing a visible creaminess, from its mixed oils. Yet, when it comes to shreds its are just as big. If not bigger.
I can’t see any obvious signs of the wild garlic in the salsa verde but it smells far more like it than the wild fire. Which, conversely, has a pleasing green and creamy aroma with a light tang but no hint of the herb. Despite it seeming to make up all of the sauce’s green shreds.
So one smells like it’s full of wild garlic and the other looks like it. But which, if either, tastes like it?
Well Foraged Fire’s is definitely herbal – Intensely so, even – but it’s closer to what we saw from 📽️Seed Ranch📽️. A deep, basil-forward blend of greenery with a strong, supporting umami that I can’t quite place the source of. One which somehow manages to mimic the richness of the traditional anchovies, without any animal products or salt.
And there’s definitely a fair amount of earthy, grassy, green pepper in there, as well. Which seems to be almost entirely jalapeño, judging by its low
Yet there are definitely darker green varieties in the mix, flavour-wise, and it lingers in the back of my mouth like something made from superhots. Even if the intensity isn’t there.
Apart from some quite obvious astringency, it’s not bad, at all.
I’d be happy to use it over eggs, tacos or seafood, like its maker suggests, and I think that it would be particularly at home with eel or shakshuka. As well as the obvious thai food. But I can also see its rich, aged, green flavour being another great fit for pepperoni pizza.
The only thing that disappoints me about this sauce is that I’m not getting the dark leaf and sharp allium zing of its wild garlic. Which was, in my mind, the whole point of me buying it.
The ingredients list states that it contains:
Fresh Green Chillies (33%) (Jalapeño, Green Dorset Naga, Cayenne, Thai Dragon, Indian Jawala), Bramley Apples (12%), Wild Garlic (Allium Ursinum) (10%), Wild Green Gooseberries, Fresh Lime Juice, Green Apple Vinegar, White Wine Vinegar, Garlic, Cornichons (Cucumbers, Champagne Vinegar, Spices, Sea Salt), Capers, Fresh Herbs (Wild Chives, 3-Cornered Leek, Nettle, Chervil, Water Mint, Holy Basil, Coriander), Wild Basil Flowers (Clinopodium vulgare) (1%), Xanthan Gum.
And ten percent sounds like a lot of wild garlic not to taste but, unlike the seed pods, wild garlic leaves have a very fresh flavour that tends not to survive cooking. So, can SCG’s Wild Fire do any better?
Raising it to my lips, it’s creamy. It’s green. And its… way tangier than it was on the nose!
This sauce is packed full of both a fruity zing, from its blend of white wine vinegar and citrus, and an allium one. Which is a little at odds to its gentle, creamy and lightly jalapeño-tinged base. But in a way that serves to add contrast, not spoil the experience.
Its sharpness and allium spice is going to lend itself well to use on ham or in roast beef sandwiches, while the added creamy, green undertones will help it pair beautifully with thai dishes. Yet, where I personally like it most, is over my potato gratin or dauphinoise.
It’s a great sauce and it’s a lot closer to the wild garlic flavour that I was looking for. But it still isn’t quite there.
The sharper allium overtones come from shallots, not from the leaves, themselves. And, while wild garlic is sort of like to garlic what shallots are to onions, mixing shallots and garlic still isn’t exactly a perfect substitute.
Here’s the full list of what goes into it:
Jalapeños, Shallots, White Wine Vinegar, Water, Garlic, Lime Juice, Lemon Juice, Wild Garlic, Brown Sugar, Sunflower Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Salt.
And I would definitely still recommend it to wild garlic lovers. Just make sure to reign in your expectations a little, because it won’t replace a freshly foraged garnish.
It will, however, add even more zing than the real thing. Due, in part, to its fruity acids and in part to the high
chilli kick. Which, while neither as strong nor as long lived as in Foraged Fire’s offering, sure does hit the roof of my mouth much quicker. Again, a pleasing contrast to its smooth and creamy texture.
The Wild Fire is easily my favourite of today’s two sauces and, while it might not have been quite what I was hoping for, it’s still an excellent green jalapeño product with plenty of freshness and zing. Whereas I feel like Foraged Fire have let me down, just a little, with their latest creation.
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