After Lea, the boys, and I ate dinner Friday night, we explored Sprouts Farmers Market, the new
squirrelly hippie specialty grocery store in northern Madison. It’s like Earth Fare, but smaller and more brightly lit.
Checking out the spicy sauces (as is my wont in any retail establishment offering such), I spied a pint of Sprouts-branded organic hot salsa. Remembering the Earth Fare Volcanic Salsa fondly, I picked up the Sprouts salsa for a review. It was $2.99.
Ingredients (“organic” precedes every entry except water, sea salt, and natural flavor on the actual label): Diced tomatoes, water, crushed tomatoes, onions, distilled vinegar, sea salt, jalapeno peppers, green bell peppers, red bell peppers, garlic, cilantro, garlic powder, cumin, natural flavor.
Uh-oh. Water all by itself on a salsa ingredient panel is a huge red flag. You won’t even see that on a jar of Pace, and you definitely shouldn’t on an ostensible boutique offering like this. It’s excusable in a sub-ingredient list (for example, if tomatoes used are from concentrate), but all by itself? And second on the list?
I tried a spoonful of it straight, and then ate about a third of the jar with Tostitos Scoops. “Limp” is the word to which I kept returning. Mind, it doesn’t taste bad. Red salsa has a well-established flavor profile, and this is within it. It tastes mostly of tomato, onion, and garlic. There just isn’t any zip at all. It’s like listening to just the rhythm guitar track of your favorite rock ‘n’ roll song, with no lead.
Its appearance is similarly bland. A dish of typical mass-market salsa looks positively exotic next to Sprouts Organic Hot. There are a few small vegetable bits, but mostly it has the color and consistency of canned marinara sauce, complete with a watery rim in the dish.
Is there at least some heat? Not much. Despite specifically being labeled, there is nearly no burn here. I think I was on the fourth chip before I detected anything beyond mild, and it tops out well short of hot. To a non-chilehead, I’d describe it as “a little spicy.”
I’ll add some lime, and maybe a tablespoon or so of Ring of Fire XX-Hot to make the jar more interesting to finish. But there’s definitely no need to repeat the purchase. The comparable Earth Fare offering is only about 50 cents more, and that’s money well-spent.