Seed Ranch Umami Reserve Hot Sauce Review

Seed Ranch Umami Reserve doesn’t pull punches about what it’s all about. This is a bold hot sauce that leans heavily into umami flavor, mixed with smoky sting. There’s a lot going on in this hot sauce, but does its heat balance out well with the big umami flavor? And how usable is a sauce with this distinct a taste? Let’s dive into what makes this sauce tick.

SUMMARY
Seed Ranch Umami Reserve Hot Sauce
4.4
$8.90

Seed Ranch Umami Reserve hot sauce has a delicious umami flavor that grows even more robust with every bite. While it could be hotter (and the heat balance suffers some), it’s surprisingly versatile.

Heat Level: Mild to Low-Medium
Pros:
  • Delicious umami flavor — lots of depth
  • Surprisingly versatile
  • Great product styling
Cons:
  • Heat balance is underwhelming
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06/12/2021 10:30 pm GMT

Flavor

If you love umami flavor, boy Seed Ranch has made a sauce for you. This has so many unique ingredients in it: Tamari, water, olive oil, tomato paste, capers, dried olives, porcini mushroom, chocolate habanero pepper, shiitake mushroom, seaweed, garlic, red miso, balsamic vinegar, white vinegar, chipotle, carrot, date, sesame oil, and cumin.

Seriously, where to even begin with a list like that? The short of it: If you love the flavor of soy sauce and mushrooms, you’ll adore Seed Ranch Umami Reserve. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, but they really found a way to balance all of this out into something that tastes, well…sophisticated.

You’ll need to taste this hot sauce over and over to pinpoint each ingredient. On first bite, you get that general umami flavor and maybe a hint of miso. The second bite, you may start differentiating the mushrooms and olives in the taste. And on the third, you may start getting a pungent garlic flavor along with a hint of that smoky chocolate habanero and chipotle pepper. Seed Ranch Umami Reserve is like a flavor surprise with every bite.

In terms of salt, there’s 60 mg per teaspoon serving, or 3% of your daily allowance. There’s so much going on here (in a good way) that saltiness isn’t something that first comes to mind. But with the heat being relatively low, you could down quite a few teaspoons of this in one sitting. Those monitoring salt intake, keep that in mind.

Seed Ranch Umami Reserve on a spoon
Seed Ranch Umami Reserve on a spoon

Heat Balance

Seed Ranch Umami Reserve has a mild to low-medium kick to it. They don’t list a Scoville heat range, but there’s nothing here that’ll challenge most hot sauce fans.

That may come as a surprise as chocolate habanero peppers are in the hot sauce. And chocolate habs aren’t lightweights, ranging from 425,000 to 577,000 Scoville heat units (SHU.). They kick even hotter than a traditional orange habanero (100,000 to 350,000 SHU.)

But here, the chocolate habanero is well down the ingredient list. It’s primarily here for its flavor — a delicious earthy, smoky sweetness. Chocolate habanero is a perfect pepper flavor pairing for the umami tastes in this hot sauce.

Chipotle pepper (2,500 to 8,000 SHU) is also featured here, though even further down the ingredient list. It’s primarily used here, I’m sure, for its delicious smokiness.

This mild spiciness tickles your tongue, but it gets out of the way quickly so that umami flavor can take center stage.

That umami boldness could handle a little more heat. The balance isn’t bad in Seed Ranch Umami Reserve, but it does feel a little wanting. It could handle a little more kick, especially with the chilies used.

Usability

If you aren’t a fan of umami as a flavor, you likely shouldn’t be reaching for a bottle named “Umami Reserve”. But you may be surprised even if you did because Seed Ranch Flavor Company’s hot sauce is pretty darn versatile.

It’s great on eggs, delicious as a spice for ramen or broth, and perfect as a mixer for a mayonnaise-based dip for fresh vegetables, French fries, or pita chips. It’s also quite tasty as a chicken marinade or for adding some zing to a tomato-based pasta dish. And as a flavor enhancer for avocado toast, few can beat it.

Even on top of snacks, Seed Ranch Umami Reserve brings something extra to the table. I tried it with my Fritos chips (no judging) and loved it. The sauce is mild enough that it’s usable in a ton of places, as long as you enjoy that umami flavor.

Collectibility

That ingredient list alone make Seed Ranch Umami Reserve more collectible than many hot sauces. It’s such a conversation starter just by going over the label.

The label runs a fine line between modern and classic. It’s simple, using block text and an image of a seed taking root to great effect. It’s just a study in good use of simple lines and white space, to be honest. Seriously, for a label so simple, it somehow still jumps out among a hot sauce lineup. It’s a refined look that matches the refined flavors in the bottle perfectly.

The Score

Seed Ranch Umami Reserve hot sauce has a delicious umami flavor that grows even more robust with every bite. While it could be hotter (and the heat balance suffers some), it’s surprisingly versatile.

FINAL SCORE4.4
Overall Flavor4.5
Heat Balance3.5
Usability4.5
Collectibility5
X-Factor4.5
Based on scale from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest)

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on June 6, 2021 to include new content. It was originally published on May 28, 2021.

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