Does this picture seem familiar? A boatload of hot sauces that take up a few shelves in the fridge (and backup bottles in the pantry)? Yes, of course it does, but if it doesn’t, shame on you! Either way, we’ve got some brand new sauces that we have added to our arsenal that we’re itching to share with you. We’re talking about the Litchfield based (where the owner and his family live) based, New Haven produced Sweet Sunshine.
But, these aren’t your typical flavorless or way too spicy hot sauces…Sweet Sunshine is actually chili sauce. This means that the peppers have been pureed so what you get is a thicker sauce, not a liquidy one like you might be used to. And, because of this, more of the flavor from the peppers come through and the sauces are easier to use in recipes or as condiments. The other thing we love? Each sauce is 100% natural, preservative-free, and fat-free too…just good ingredients.
And, this all comes from the heat-seeking mind of Paul Sarris, who was a Long Island boy just like Dan (Strong Island rep). He grew tired and unfulfilled by the business world, so he began to follow his dream…making up some killer sauces. Sweet Sunshine was a favorite of concert goers at festivals and soon pulled in some major international awards…62 of them to be exact. They were named Overall Grand Champion at America’s Best, Best Overall at the Fiery Foods Challenge, and have taken 29 1st place, 14 2nd place, and 18 3rd place wins. Not too shabby, huh?
Knowing all this about Sweet Sunshine, we were excited that they offered to send us some samples. Although we expected small samples of a few of their sauces, we were actually surprised to see they sent full 10.7 oz. bottles of all six flavors. We’ve been testing them on everything, too: Pad Thai, stir fry, eggs, steak, beans, rice…actually almost everything we’ve eaten. Well, maybe not cereal, but you get the point. And, after some time with the sauces, we’d like to share our thoughts, tasting notes, and pairing ideas:
Tasting Notes: Ancho peppers are used, giving this sauce a smoky taste. It’s sweet, yes, but not overly sweet. We’d use this is a substitute for ketchup.
Pairing: think about putting some on some eggs to add a little Mexican flavor or add it to a burger that’s topped with some Queso Fresco, Avocado, and fried plantains for a nice flavor burst.
Tasting Notes: they take the Sweet sauce and add some heat from a blend of Habanero and Cayenne. The result is a spice level that sneaks up on you, balancing nicely with the sweetness…a bit more subdued because of the added peppers.
Pairing: put it on whatever you want, it rocks, but definitely consider coating a nice meatloaf with the sauce, then baking it. The results will be awesome, giving you a nice contrast with the tingly spiciness.
Roasted Shallot + Garlic
Tasting Notes: perhaps our favorite sauce, Sweet Sunshine starts off with their Warm base but adds in caramelized shallots and garlic into the mix. The result is a richer, more flavorful sauce.
Pairing: because there’s great bursts of flavor going on in this sauce, it’s great to turn plain rice into something better. Just make the rice as usual, add in some salt, then mix in a nice portion of the sauce. Mix it around and add more sauce to taste. This would also be killer used as a base for a steak marinade, just saying…
Tasting Notes: things start getting hotter and spicier with this guy. They make it with jerk seasoning that actually comes from St. Ann in Jamaica (birthplace of Bob Marley). To give it more of that authentic taste, they put in some scallions and, of course, some Scotch Bonnet Peppers. Like their other sauces, it’s balanced nicely, and isn’t overpoweringly hot…but, it definitely has a kick to it. Love it.
Pairing: if you’re daring, this would be a nice glaze for some goat, but you need to be really comfortable with that meat. Realistically, though, this is a perfect accompaniment for some chicken. Our suggestion would be to either marinate and grill up some wings or fry them, then toss them in this sauce. We also loved this with simple chicken breasts.
Tasting Notes: one of the most disappointing things about hot sauces is that they often say hot or have warnings on their labels, but when you taste them you wonder if you somehow bought the mild flavor instead. That’s definitely not the case here with some Ancho and Red Savina Habanero (350k-850k Scoville) peppers mixed into this fiery sauce. The result is a sauce that packs a punch, but doesn’t destroy you.
Pairing: like the jerk sauce, this would be great with a toss-in of fried or grilled wings. Also, if you have any kind of tomato based sauce that you want to kick up a few dozen notches, definitely add it in. Personally, we’ve added it to some Pad Thai that we’ve made and it adds a really nice kick, balancing nicely with some of the peanut flavors that we worked in.
Tasting Notes: so, this is where Sweet Sunshine Atomic stands out from its competitors. When it says Atomic, yes, it’s very very hot, but there’s actually flavor there, too. The burn doesn’t hit at first, but sneaks up on you. After a few seconds you realize what you’ve done to yourself, but it tastes so good that you want more. The heat comes from a nice healthy portion of Red Savina Habanero peppers, mixed in with Anchos for added taste and smokiness.
Pairing: if you don’t mind starting off your morning or brunch in a spicy way, we’d suggest upgrading the classic beans + rice with eggs breakfast. Add the Atomic sauce to your black beans and mix it around or just pour a bit on your eggs. Really, just the right way to start off the morning. And, if you like to be daring, maybe add a few dashes to your Bloody Mary for a real devilish punch.
Where to Buy
Sweet Sunshine has their full stock of sauces available for purchase online. Buy one for $6.99, or get a 3 pack of their Warm, Jamaican Jerk, and Roasted Shallot & Garlic for $13.50. There are also a ton of restaurants in the Northeast that carry their sauces. Eventually, as they become even more popular, they plan to distribute their sauces at local stores and markets. Until then, you’ll just have to get your Sweet Sunshine fix by ordering online.