Salsa is clearly a matter of taste. There are some people who swear by salsa brands I wouldn’t use if I were deserted on Taco Island. (Mmm…taco island.) And while some people can barely tolerate mild salsa, I won’t even bother using it if doesn’t specifically indicate extreme heat of some kind. I’ve tasted a lot of salsa in my time and while I can’t honestly lay claim to having tried every one on the market, I have found what I consider to be the best that can generally be found inside any supermarket where I live. Mrs. Renfro’s Hot Habanero Salsa is leagues above the competition.
Pace brand salsa claims to be very hot, but it’s really hard to tell since most stores only care the mild variety. Oh, and while we’re at it, would be possible to stop with the Beta/VHS type confusion over labeling. You know what I mean, don’t you? What, exactly, is the difference between “mild” salsa or picante sauce and “medium” salsa or picante sauce? It doesn’t affect me personally since I wouldn’t waste my time or money on hot sauce appropriate for elderly patients who have just recovered from throat surgery, but I know a lot of people who don’t go for the hotter of the hot sauces and when I’m in charge of buying it I’m just plain not sure whether “mild” is soother on their delicate tongues than “medium” or vice versa. Which is it?
At any rate, I have typically used Pace hot salsa in the past because, although far from scorching, at least it had a nice aftertaste and wasn’t entirely wimpy. Through the years I’ve tried other off-market brands but I have a history of finding a brand that I like only to watch it is disappear in the crush of monopolistic buyouts and mergers. (Anybody else out there mourning the death of Fruity Islands cereal?) Mrs. Renfro’s gourmet salsas have been around for quite a few years, so I think I’m safe for now.
It’s the habanero peppers that do the trick in Mrs. Renfro’s hot salsa. Most hot salsas only jalapeno peppers to provide the heat, even the so-called fiery hot varieties. With good reason, of course. Even if you pride yourself on eating hot salsa, you should be informed of the presence of habanero peppers because they are significantly higher on the Scoville scale of pepper heat. How significant? Well, jalapenos top out about 5,000 and habaneros top out around 350,000. When you consider that the difference between a green bell pepper and a jalapeno is only 2500, you get a good idea. Habanero peppers are best left to the professionals.
Which is why I love Mrs. Renfro’s Hot Habanero Salsa. Admittedly, we aren’t talking Dave’s Insanity Sauce territory. One drop of Dave’s Insanity Sauce will turn a whole pot of chili into a five alarm experience. Dipping just a few tortilla chips into Mrs. Renfro’s Hot Habanero Salsa won’t kill you unless you typically reach for the mild or medium type sauce. It won’t kill you if you always request the fire sauce at Taco Bell. And it won’t even have you grasping for a bottle of milk-which is the best way to put out the fire caused by hot sauce, by the way; never try water which only makes it worse-if you consider yourself a hot salsa professional. The great thing about Mrs. Renfro’s is that it’s not a flavor killer. You know, those exceptionally hot sauces that exist only to prove to your friends how manly your taste buds are, but provide no flavor whatever. You buy a hot salsa to enhance the flavor of chips; buying one that overpowers with heat destroys the whole purpose.
What happens with Mrs. Renfro’s Hot Habanero Salsa is that it slowly creeps up on you. You dip a chip and bite it and say to yourself that’s one damn fine chippa salsa and so you start adding a little more to each chip. You delight in the heat mixed with the flavor. And then, probably about twenty chips later you start realizing that your tongue is burning just a little more than normal. It’s okay because you’re a pro, but even so. So you keep on and then about ten chips later it really hits. I imagine this point must be what’s like for those people whose eyes start watering as they begin reaching for the water after tasting just one little bite of a really hot sauce. Not that Mrs. Renfro’s will cause a true hot sauce professional to act like that, but it’s probably a similar type of realization that you’ve come across a product that leaves your tongue tingling to the point where you actually stop eating.
This point is probably different for various people and I’m sure many could finish off an entire jar. I myself have reached about the halfway point of a newly opened jar before finally deciding to take a break. The good news is that the heat effect of Mrs. Renfro’s Hot Habanero Salsa wears off pretty quickly. I can usually head back to it with no problem after taking a fifteen minute break or so.
I never had a problem with Pace or any other hot salsa. Finishing off a jar in one sitting was eminently doable if not necessarily desirable. I have no idea how many different types of hot salsa are available either at supermarkets or over the internet today, though I would imagine it’s got to be in the hundreds at least. Like I said, I haven’t even come close to trying them all, but of those that I have Mrs. Renfro’s Hot Habanero Salsa definitely is the best.