No, I haven’t gone insane. Or at least, not any more so than normal. These jars are filled with jalapeños. Mild pepper, potentially made even tamer by being candied.
And, unlike the 📽️caramel flavoured ones📽️ that I got from Daddy Cool’s, they come in two different colours. As well as a most unexpected strawberry jam.
Because, as it turns out, Haynes Gourmet aren’t quite the condiment company that I first took them for. They’re candied chilli specialists and every single of of their creations uses that same, sweet and spicy base.
So let’s try it out, shall we.
I mentioned, up top, that their jalapeño slices come in two different colours – A green label and a red – but, as conveniently colour-coded as it is, I’m sure that most of you realise that I didn’t mean the packaging. That I was, in fact, referring to the rings within:
These green and red jalapeño slices, which look remarkably like your usual, pickled variety. Only with rather less liquid and rather more shine. Because they’re “pickled” in sugar syrup, not in brine.
They’re soft, yet still slightly firm and both have a little bit of chew to them. However the greens are the only one of the pair with a light crunch, while the skins of the reds make them just a tiny bit squeaky. Despite their identical recipe, it’s easy to tell which is the ripe version by their texture.
Flavour-wise, though, the difference is far more pronounced. The greens are, as you would expect, greener. More earthy than their red counterparts and slightly vegetable, as well. A very savoury mix of flavours, contrasting most interestingly with the sugar soaked into them.
Whereas the reds still have their obvious umami elements but trade the greenery for a touch of red pepper fruitiness and a sweeter taste, over all. If I was going to use either of them for dessert, it would be the reds, without a doubt.
Yet both will still work excellently over burgers, pizzas, nachos and crackers with cheese. And, personally, I think that the greens may even be the better fit for hard dairy. What with that slight plantiness of theirs.
Both are a very good representation of the flavours of their peppers and the “cowboy candy” style, meaning that I knew what I was getting into. But their heat? That’s a little more of a curveball.
Haynes’ jalapeños are not the mild, supermarket variety that I’m used to. They’re something more, to quote the company name, “gourmet”. And, in the chilli world, that tends to also mean hotter.
The sugar keeps them at bay for a while, yet after a few seconds, a fire begins to spark in my throat. Spreading around the sides to the tip of my tongue and then, by the time it’s done, my whole mouth is feeling a very unexpected
heat, with the greens, and an even hotter
from the red. Both up near the pinnacle of what ‘peños can do.
Neither’s strong enough to stop me from gobbling up the lot but it’s going to be rather slower and involve rather more accompanying food than I first thought. So let’s see if the jam’s any milder.
Despite looking almost identical to the red rings, on the outside, my spoonful of its contents is a far more uniform, sweet and sticky fruit pulp than either of the previous products. With only the occasional seed or shred, to remind me of the chillies.
Yet, despite their near absence from this item’s appearance, they’re definitely their in the flavour. Providing the same, slightly fruity, peppery flavour which the reds had before. A chilli taste with a hint of savoury, leading us into and out of what might otherwise be a sickly sweet, strawberry body.
With the jalapeños taking the edge off, however, the quality of those berries really gets to shine and I start to wonder whether the jam really is what Haynes Gourmet think it is.
It’s sweet, it’s fruity and it’s full of delicious, soft, red, cooked strawberries, with only a touch of the chilli, at the start and end. This is the kind of jam that I’d pair with peanut butter or spread over my toast, not one that I’d add to burgers or wraps.
It’s delicious but it’s definitely not a savoury food condiment and nor is it quite mild, with an even slower grow than the jars of pure chilli but a low
heat when it gets there.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely! But I wouldn’t recommend using it the way that its makers suggest and I would recommend being a little careful when you make your purchase. Because the jam’s reddish pink and the pinkish red of the rings look surprisingly similar.
There’s no difference in their black and white lion logo, either. Nor in what little else adorns their labels. So please, pay close attention to the gold-accented text and don’t mix these products up.
The jam contains:
Sugar, Strawberries (57%), apple pectin, Jalapenos (3%), Lemon Juice, Sunflower Oil
Whereas both varieties of rings are made from:
Jalapeno Chilli [62%], Pure Cane Sugar, Cider, Vinegar, Garlic Powder
With the only difference between them being that one uses red jalapeños, while the other is green. Too small of a change to appear on the ingredients, despite the huge difference that it makes to both heat and flavour.