Posted January 8, 2008 by SteveM in Reviews

Review: Elephant Pepper “Baobab Gold” Tangy Pepper Sauce

Elephant Pepper Gold Tangy pepper sauce

The only thing I love more than a good sauce is one with a good story behind it. So, after you read this review, whether you decide you like the sauce or not, go to the sauce maker’s website, www.elephantpepper.com , and read about their company mission. It’s impressive. It turns out that they grow peppers (chillis) in that part of the world not only for spicy dishes, but as an elephant repellent! To quote from the Elephant Pepper website:

Elephants Hate Chilli! Elephant Pepper chilli sauces were inspired by the conservation work of the Elephant Pepper Development Trust, through which rural farmers grow chillies to deter elephants from raiding their subsistence crops. Our sauces are made using these same chillies, which are fed by the mighty Zambezi River, baked by the hot African sun, and tilled by enterprising rural farmers. Only the best grade of chillies is used in our products, ensuring that every bottle is not only good for Africa, but great tasting too.

Fortunately, this review was not conducted by a chilli-hating elephant, but rather a chilli-craving human. There is a lot to like about this sauce, but I must caveat that the ingredients posted on the website are slightly different from those listed on my bottle. After conferring with Nick, we discovered I was tasting a batch that pre-dates the new recipe, but we are reasonably sure the taste is very close.

So, the Ingredients, as tasted, are: Water, Vinegar, Sugar, Baobab, Tomato, Onions, Vegetable Oil (palm), Chilli, Citric Acid, Colourant, Natural Preservatives.

First Impression: I like the packaging ““ nice clean logo super-imposed on the silhouette of a Baobab tree ““ an image synonymous with the African continent. It’s funny, but the logo is a bit contradictory. That beast should be rearing up and running the other way, but instead, he seems to be eating the plant that is intended to repel him. As I look into the bottle, I see a lot going on and I am eager to pop it open.

Elephant Pepper Gold Tangy pepper sauce

Appearance: I pour this sauce out on the plate and it has the perfect consistency for coating anything. It is chocolate brown with almost a curry-yellow tinge. I am guessing that the “colourant” mentioned in the ingredients is turmeric. The sauce is relatively smooth (vs. gritty) with tiny red, brown and black flecks. I am more than ready to proceed with the organoleptic examination.

Aroma: I take a whiff and, if I closed my eyes, I would think it was a sauce I reviewed a few months ago called “The Sauce”. I notice one ingredient common to both sauces ““ oil. Oil is not only a good foundation for an emulsion, but it imparts a rich flavor and, in this case, balances the nose of vinegar nicely. All in all, this sauce smells piquant, or tangy, as the label suggests, but is not suggestive of the flavors or heat to come. So I take a swig from the bottle.

Taste: The first thing that hits me is sweet. Now, I know from many of the posted comments on some recent reviews, I just lost about two-thirds of you. Sorry, I can’t tell a lie. This stuff has an initial sweetness you can’t hide, but it quickly gives way to the heat. I get a little tomato, which is nice, and some flavor from the oil. I wish I knew what Baobab tastes like, so I could tell if its flavor is discernable.

But, no matter. You should know that Baobab is good for you!!! Just as the peppers keep the elephants away, Baobab helps us humans keep the doctor away. The Baobab, you might know, is also called the “Tree of Life”, or sometimes, the “Chemist Tree”. Baobab in its most common edible form is nearly equal to the Pomegranate in its anti-oxidant qualities. But the rare (and, I suspect, expensive) red fibers of the Baobab fruit contain 500% greater anti-oxidants than the Pomegranate. So, put that in your Martini!

But, I digress, and my veal stew awaits the slathering of sauce.

Elephant Pepper Gold Tangy pepper sauce

Heat: I pour a generous amount of Baobab Gold on my piping hot bowl of veal stew and mashed potatoes. The initial sweetness is the same when it’s on food, so you have to decide whether you are willing to put up with that momentary sweetness to be rewarded with what I think is one of the most pleasing heat-waves you could ever experience.

I know not what variety of chilli(s) they put in Baobab Gold, but the result is as follows: a forthright and well-balanced combination of burns that comes on quickly, finds its place, and warms you to the core without ever attacking one particular part of you. It is a consistent, omnipresent (but by no means wimpy) burn. It starts immediately by finding every corner of the mouth. A sweat breaks out on the sides of your nose in no time, then moves to the top of your head. This is followed by tingling on the tongue, lips and back of the throat. Like I said, it’s the consistency of the heat that really impresses me about this sauce. I give it a 5.5 on the HSB scale. It starts that way and ends that way.

Overall: I give Baobab a 9/10. I recommend this sauce obviously to the sweet sauce lover. I’m thinking this would go great on Nick’s Cincinnati chili. If I had one wish, it would be to put a little Habanero in there for flavor. Then it would be a perfect 10.

So, do your part to keep those pesky elephants out of the vegetable patch! Show your support for the makers of Elephant Pepper Products. Again, quoting from their website, their hope is “”¦that Elephant Pepper sauces will raise awareness about the production of high-quality chillies in Africa and build a strong export crop for the struggling economies of Southern Africa’s developing countries.”