Ontario couple Ron Savoie and Adrienne Kenney’s story is one that closely resembles many a person from the upper parts of our North American continent who have sojourned down to the warmer reaches of Central America, Mexico or the Caribbean: one taste of the heat and flavor and they were hooked. In Ron and Adrienne’s case, Costa Rica was the geographic destination that enthralled them; and long story short, they have a full product line under the name of Jungle Heat Imports that include BBQ sauces, hot sauces and snacks.
Earlier this year they had submitted six of their spicy sauces for me to sample of and review, and it’s taken me a while to put each product through its proper paces. Finally below I present a summary of my findings for each one. Enjoy!
A full-bodied frenzy of tart, sweet and onion-y tones with a great deal of garlic to boot, Jungle Heat Imports’ Caribbean Heat feels both exciting yet familiar. Any negatives to this sauce? It may be that there is a generic, non-descript quality when it comes to trying to detect the flavor of the peppers and the fruit used within. There’s nothing special about it, yet it does it’s job as a whole, so it may not be worth splitting hairs over this. Caribbean Heat’s fire is on both the tip of the tongue as well as in the back of the mouth. This sauce performed admirably with grilled chicken legs as a sauce smeared on during the final cooking moments as well as more to dip in later during supper. This would also do nicely on seafood or any island-inspired dishes.
Like Caribbean Heat, this is a bright, hot, onion and fruity sauce with a medium-consistency liquid, but this has that extra added oomph lacking in the form of a tantalizingly sweet, jelly-like notes from the mangoes. I really, really liked this! Of course, I’m a sucker for fruit-based hot sauces, and Jungle Heat hit a home run in that department. The heat is comparable to Caribbean Heat, and is perhaps just a touch milder, but still warm enough for most chilehead’s tongues. From white meat plates to even using as a sweet topper for tacos, and even a good mixer for garlic parmesan french fries, Mango Heat made this humble reviewer smile.
I found Garlic Heat to be of a slightly thicker consistency than the aforementioned two sauces, an attribute that won it a half more point in my book. From my own tongue, it seemed to use the same, basic formula as the Caribbean Heat and Mango Heat, yet Garlic Heat went the other direction and is a very non-fruity condiment. It still retains quite a bit of natural sweetness from the beets, carrots, bell peppers and sugar, but as the name implies it’s garlic that’s front and center this time out. There’s a minor sting from the habaneros, and floats around the same level heat-wise as the other two, somewhere in medium/medium-hot territory. This is a solid, versatile hot sauce with maybe a little more range yet is not as distinctive as a whole. From pizza to eggs to red meat, Garlic Heat stands up as both a flavor enhancer and a fire provider.
Maybe the most pressure is put on Jungle Heat’s simply titled Hot Sauce. I adore the thick consistency of this product. Hot Sauce would do very well as a jarred salsa, and at times was a minor nuisance trying to extract from the 5 oz. standard woozy bottle, but this was something I can easily live with from a consistency that sticks wonderfully to food. Flavor-wise, Jungle Heat Import’s Hot Sauce is a vibrant mish-mash of peppers, vinegar, onions, carrots and more. There exists a bit of a smokey edge that makes it blend into Mexican cuisine and burgers. It is liquid smoke (instead of a natural smoke produced from something such as chipotles) used to provide this facet, and it comes with an unfortunate payoff ; the more you like this sauce, the more you use, and at the same time the more prominent the artificial liquid smoke taste bleeds through. It’s not off-putting, but very noticeable. The burn on a scale of one to five is smack dab at 2.5, making this hot for beginners and highly accessible for experienced heat freaks.
In the first lick of this medium/thick sauce you are able to detect a lot of the same ingredients as the milder Hot Sauce, but within a second or two the fiery bluster of habaneros plows through and dominates in both overall taste and incendiary fury. This is not built for non-chileheads at all, as the heat is somewhere around a 3.5 or 4 on a scale of 1 to 5. It’s definitely created as a good heat additive for many, many uses, from breakfast omelets to sandwiches at lunch to burritos at dinnertime. Lovely burn with nice flavor to go along with it.
The Hottest We’ve Got
Well, with the nasty, chemical-like presence of chile extract in the mix, what would you expect out of this? Jungle Heat’s The Hottest We’ve Got is nothing but a heat additive, and I’ve certainly sampled far worse. But the off-putting taste is simply too much for me to be able to recommend. In small doses in a pot of chili, The Hottest We’ve Got may find some redemption, yet with all the excellent sauces on the market containing similar levels of heat from super-hots like bhut jolokias and trinidad scorpions, you can do better.
This Canadian outfit knows a thing or two about taste and has several hot sauces that prove they are solid competitors in the fiery foods marketplace. You can purchase all six products from Jungle Heat’s website from seven to twelve Canadian dollars, plus the cost of shipping.