Tell you what, African Dream Foods has the kind of x-factor that most hot sauces dream of. Their sauces are made from ingredients sourced from small South African farms, and they give back to African wildlife conservation with every bottle purchased. That’s sustainable business right there. And we couldn’t be more excited to see the cool mash-up of a ghost pepper and African peri-peri sauce. So, beyond the x-factor, how does African Dream Foods Ghost Peri-Peri Hot Sauce taste? How well balanced? And usable? Let’s dive in and see what’s what.
African Dream Foods is currently running a KickStarter campaign to support their global growth efforts. Update: Kickstarter funding has ended.
African Dream Foods says they source ingredients from small African farms and keep their hot sauce ingredients all natural. And it sure does taste like it. There’s a lot to love here. The ingredients list: ghost pepper brine (water, vinegar, salt) cane sugar, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, sunflower seed oil, dried chili, salt, ghost pepper, xanthan gum, parsley, thyme, and oregano.
You can argue over xanthan gum (a thickening agent made from sugar), but it’s made from a natural fermentation process and allowed in products labeled “organic”. So, we’re good with it fitting into the “all natural” claim.
For those of you who are not familiar with peri-peri sauces, they normally contain garlic and chili peppers (traditionally African bird’s eye peppers, a.k.a. peri-peri chilies) along with lemon and spices for an unforgettable flavor. African Dream added their own twist to a peri-peri sauce by combining it with that ghost pepper brine, adding a very respectable kick.
On first bite, you get an immediate sweetness from the cane sugar (and the natural sweetness of the ghost pepper.) A tang from the brine and lemon is quick to follow, followed by the heat. The spices trail in the flavor, but add a nice “garden fresh” depth to the sauce as it lingers on your taste buds.
This is the first sauce I’ve tried that uses a ghost pepper brine, which I found really delicious. I wouldn’t necessarily call this a vinegar forward sauce as the sweetness comes in a bit more at the top than the vinegar. The balance here between sweet and tangy is really excellent. Neither overpowers the other, and together they seem to pull out the delicious fruitiness inherent in the ghost pepper.
In terms of sodium: African Dream Foods Ghost Peri-Peri Sauce rings in at 95 mg per teaspoon. It’s certainly not low-sodium, but it’s not so sodium-heavy that salt becomes a predominant flavor.
Ghost peppers star here (with their whopping 855,000 to 1,041,427 Scoville heat units). But don’t expect the heat to reach super-hot heights. That’s not to say African Dream Foods Ghost Peri-Peri Sauce doesn’t have a kick. It does. But the use of ghost peppers here is as much for the pepper’s natural fruitiness as its big heat.
African Dream Foods doesn’t list Scoville heat units for its sauces, but we’d put this somewhere in the medium-heat level of hot sauces. It’s very eatable, but you’ll definitely know it’s there. And that makes sense as the predominant ingredients is a brine made from ghost peppers (not fresh ghost peppers themselves.)
The heat hits you slowly at first, mid-tongue, and then makes it to the back of your throat, warming up your mouth. The sugar comes in right away to take away the shock of the heat, so you taste a good amount of sweet as you are registering the heat level. Though that spiciness does linger, and it tends to build up the more you use it.
If you’re one for milder hot sauces, African Dream Foods Ghost Peri-Peri may be a surprising jump (especially with the slow build). But for those that love big flavor hot sauces solidly in the medium-heat range, you’ll be a fan of the balance here.
Peri-peri sauces as a whole are very versatile. They go well with everything from pizzas to pastas to tacos (and pretty much anything in between.) And African Dream Foods Ghost Peri-Peri Sauce follows suit. It’s a terrific “catch all” sauce that works just as well with Mexican cuisine as it does as a marinade for American BBQ and African Braai. It’s also delicious over vegetables, from French fries to roasted cauliflower it just works. And I loved adding it to my marinara sauce for a much-needed flavor and heat bump.
Now that said — there’s a potential heat bump here compared to the traditional peri-peri sauce recipe depending on the chilies used. Though African bird’s eye peppers are no slouch in the heat department themselves (50,000 to 100,000 Scoville heat units.) You’ll want to approach use as a marinade or spread with caution.
This sauce is on the thicker side, so it’s best to shake it up before you shake it out. It’s also beautiful on the plate, with a real stunning shade of orange coloring the sauce.
You’ll want this sauce for its incredible flavor, but African Dream Foods brand story is what sells it for the collection. They are approaching hot sauce as a sustainable business, both by using ingredients from small African farms and giving back to African wildlife conservation. According to the African Dream Foods website, $.10 to $.40 of each bottle sold is donated to African wildlife conservation organizations. So, this is the kind of sauce that feels good to buy and to eat.
The label feels authentic to the mission, too — the elephants in front of an African sunset. It reminds you what this brand is all about. On the larger bottles, each hot sauce in their line highlights different native African animals on each label. Plus, it features the wildlife photographer’s Instagram handle and picture. Seriously, it’s almost like you’re taken on a safari every time you order a bottle of hot sauce from African Dream Foods. Note, our review bottle pictured in this review does not have the same photography and design.
African Dream Foods Ghost Peri-Peri Sauce is a deliciously well-balanced sweet and tangy hot sauce with a bold, but eatable medium-heat. Plus, the brand’s sustainable business supports both local South African farmers and wildlife conservation.