Meet the heat with sweet


By Donna Berry, Meat+Poultry



While Bob’s Processing Inc., South Haven, Mich., may be best-known for its smoked pulled pork, hand-made culinary-inspired sausages and thick-cut bacon, the family-owned butcher often cannot keep its sweet heat barbecue sauce in stock. The house-made condiment is sold refrigerated in 18-oz tubs and features the sweetness of brown sugar, molasses, and pineapple and orange juices along with heat from chipotle and habanero peppers.


Such layering of flavors is trending in all food and beverage. When it comes to meat and poultry, sweet with heat complements the umami and salty tastes in a balanced way. It also presents the consumer with a familiar way to explore flavor sensations.


Explore and experiment


Research shows that consumers are more open to trying new flavors when they’re combined with a food they would typically eat, according to Mintel, Chicago. This is often some form of spicy, which is a subjective term that encompasses the heat of chilis (from capsaicin content), as well as the pungent organic compounds associated with ingredients such as cinnamon, garlic, ginger, horseradish, mustard and even onion.


Today’s consumers’ insatiable appetite for everything spicy has put innovators on the hot seat to create products that satisfy cravings. It is a balancing act, and that is part of what is fueling the ongoing sweet-heat trend. Such combinations are described by Wixon Inc., St. Francis, Wis., “as next-level favorite flavors.” It’s all about being grounded in a familiar flavor and then giving it some unexpected kick.


“The new flavor is not only tasty, but it’s not as intimidating to try,” said Ryan Kukuruzovic, corporate chef at Wixon. “Balancing pairings of the familiar with the unexpected can inject excitement and ensure greater likelihood of consumer acceptance. One of my favorites is black garlic tamarind citrus. The sweet and savory notes have an earthy fruitiness. We use it in snacks, sauces and to flavor proteins.”


Lime is one of the most common citrus flavors to get paired with heat. Other options include grapefruit, lemon and orange. On the tropical side, mango, pineapple and tamarind combine well with heat, too.


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