Frostbite is an offering from CaJohn’s, and I’ve been wanting to try it for a while. Its positioning is interesting. There’s nothing in it but vinegar, salt, water, and capsicum. So it’s to add heat without imparting flavor of its own. Net anecdotes suggest it’s an excellent drink additive. One fellow I encountered tells of heating up chocolate syrup with it before using it on ice cream. The extract in the sauce has a Scoville heat unit rating of 500,000, so this is strong and not to be trifled with if you think Tabasco is hot.
So how does it do with its stated mission?
I like to heat our beef stroganoff up a lot, so I went with a dozen or so drops of Frostbite over my plate last night. It did a good job of adding the bite, and the bite alone. Its home page suggests using it in beer, and that doesn’t really sound good to me, though I suspect I’ll see what it does for a Bloody Mary sometime before the holidays end. Lea’s going to add some to one of her batches of Chex Mix.
Is it flavorless? Not exactly. It’s got a little sour/salty/bitter about it—no surprise given the ingredients. It tastes very much like the vinegar and sport peppers with the yellow top (like what you put on turnip greens), actually. I’d call the flavor subtle and easily dominated, maybe like vodka of reasonable quality?
I’ve spent a lot of time with habanero and ghost pepper sauces lately, and both of those heat you way up, but they do so gradually. The effect is cumulative. That is not the case with Frostbite. The heat is instant and searing, going from zero to maximum in perhaps ten seconds. It was primarily in the back of my mouth and throat. Water or beer allayed it just until I swallowed, at which point it immediately flared again. I put up with it for about three minutes, but Nathan and I both finally relented and had some milk. That had it 90+% extinguished in another five minutes. Not sure how long it would have lasted without the casein.
Frostbite certainly is a pretty and well-named sauce. The capsicum crystals look like glitter in the bottle (somewhat visible in the photo). It’ll draw reliable attention on your party table, and though it’s not a blow-the-back-of-your-head-out superhot sauce, it’s definitely formidable enough to get your attention. (Any knucklehead with his macho on should be permitted to douse whatever with it. Get photos, or better yet, video. See if you can get him to commit to no drink for five minutes.)
Frostbite is a difficult product to evaluate in the usual sense. It doesn’t really have any (or many) direct competitors, and generally when I’m rating a hot sauce I’m thinking of it relative to its peers. I’ll rate it based on how well it accomplishes its mission (adding heat, not flavor), its aesthetics, and its strength.