Thursday, October 22, 2009

Caribbean Hot Sauce Reviews: Melinda's Mango and Melinda's XXXXtra Reserve

OK, as promised I'm looking at 2 Hot Sauces this time, Melinda's Mango and Melinda's XXXXtra Reserve, which are very different from each other, but actually quite complementary. As I will explain.

These sauces are both made by Figueroa Brothers -- they are fairly inexpensive, available in some supermarkets, and many places online. You can buy them directly as well.

The XXXXtra Reserve offers some heat and a great aged Habanero flavor, but because of the big Habanero flavor the other ingredients don't contribute very much to the overall flavor of the sauce.

The Mango sauce is barely hot at all, but offers great Mango and Citrus flavor, but needs a good kick to get it moving.

Here is the ingredient listing:

Red Habanero Peppers, Fresh Carrots, Onions, Lime Juice, Vinegar, Garlic, Salt

Fresh Mangoes, Fresh Carrots, Sugar, Cane Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Habanero Peppers, Tomato Paste, Onion, Vinegar, 0.1% Sodium Benzoate

The XXXXtra Reserve has a lovely strong Aged Pepper Nose with Vinegar/Lime and a bit of Brininess. On the Tongue, there is again that wonderful strong Aged Pepper, mixed with , and followed by a Lime/Vinegar Saltiness, gradually finishing over a couple of minutes to a classic Habanero needle like pepperiness. Texture is fairly thick with seeds and some other bits.

This is a great sauce by itself and could be used in many ways like a kicked-up Tabasco substitute. Not quite as Vinegary, more heat, but not crazy heat.

Melinda's Mango has, as you would expect, a strong, Mango Fruity, Citrus/Lime Nose. On the tongue, I taste the same, but with a tiny bit of Onion and Garlic (can't taste the Tomato), some small Pepper, and a lingering sweetness. No saltiness tasted. Texture is thick with a few seeds.

This is a good time to mention that the Melinda's website includes quite a few recipes, along with each Hot Sauce, many from Dave DeWitt, of The Whole Chile Pepper Book fame, which he considers a cook book, but is more than that, and these recipes give a good idea as to how to make use of the Melinda's Hot Sauces.

The truth is, though, that the Mango is not really a Hot Sauce; it's a Fruit Sauce, and of limited utility as a casual condiment. You are not likely to reach across the table for that Mango Sauce for your Scrambled Eggs, or your Steak. Well, I am not, anyway.

But the Mango Sauce does have a great flavor and does work Very Well with the XXXXtra Reserve.

So that's what I do with it -- I mix the XXXtra Reserve in 3 parts, with the Mango 1 part, and the combined sauce is GREAT! Hot, with a tasty Aged Pepper and Mango Fruit Flavor.

I Highly Recommend the combination.

As for the individual Sauces themselves, I do Recommend the XXXXtra Reserve, as a great standard Hot Sauce in the Louisiana Style with Big Pepper, Lime/Vinegar and Salt, and I also Recommend the Mango with the Reservation that it is not a Hot Sauce, but a Fruit Sauce that has to be used like one. In recipes or with something else. Like ... XXXXtra Reserve.

Sometime in the future I'm going to take a look at some of the other Melinda's Sauces -- there are a lot, and I'm curious.

By the way, both of these reviewed sauces were purchased directly from the online store at Melinda's, at quite good prices, $3.43 for the Quatros Equis (that's XXXX, for you), and $3.43 for the Mango. Or $35.98 , and $34.65, respectively, per Gallon. Smile.

Meanwhile, I'm expecting to review some of the Benito's Hot Sauces next time.

Yours in heat and flavor,


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