Melinda’s Green Sauce is described right on its web page as, “crafted by blending together a lot of good green stuff.” And that it sure is. It’s chock-full of green things — from jalapeños to spinach and more. There’s a lot to take in on the flavor, but does the heat balance work? And is Melinda’s Green Sauce versatile in the kitchen or something more specialized? Let’s review.
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Melinda’s isn’t kidding when they call this sauce “green sauce.” There are so many things in this ingredients list that color match: White vinegar, jalapeño pepper mash, water, green tomato, sugar, cilantro, spinach powder, garlic, lime juice, salt, habanero pepper mash, citric acid, and xanthan gum.
Yes — a lot of green here. Jalapeños, green tomatoes, cilantro, spinach powder, and lime juice. But there’s a bit of confusion here too. The front of the label claims tomatillos are in the sauce, but on our bottle the ingredients list on the back states, “green tomatoes.” These are two different fruits altogether from entirely different plants, so which is true? The sauce to me didn’t have as much of a tomatillo tang as I’d expect (more a vinegar tang), so we’ll assume green tomatoes. But either way — it’s label confusion.
That head-scratcher aside, Melinda’s Green Sauce is still plenty flavorful. There’s a herbaceous, vegetal sweet bite here, with a strong vinegar punch. The vinegar, in fact, hits first, followed by a mild spiciness from the jalapeño mash and finally an earthy-sweet spinach-y aftertaste.
There’s quite a bit going on in one bite, but it works. The spinach flavor here is a unique twist. It’s not so much that will turn anyone off, but it certainly is a flavor that — if you love spinach or other bitter-sweet leafy greens — will have you coming back to the bottle quickly.
The thickness of this sauce also serves it well. The flavors linger long enough, due to the thickness, that It gives you a chance to taste the garlic and lime juice on the back end.
Let’s talk sodium. Melinda’s Green Sauce comes in at only 60 mg per teaspoon, which is reasonable for a hot sauce. Really, it relies more on the vinegar, that jalapeño mash, and the sweeter side of the remaining ingredients.
I know some say there’s a bit more kick than expected. And the label may make you think that too since it contains two pepper mashes: jalapeño (2,500 to 8,000 Scoville heat units) and habanero pepper (a much hotter 100,000 to 350,000 SHU.)
But I didn’t get that. In fact, Melinda’s Green Sauce tastes pretty mild to me. Maybe at most mild to low-medium. There is definite heat there, but it comes on quickly and leaves fast too. There’s no build here and the chili spiciness quickly takes a back seat.
That may be for the best with this sauce as it allows its tang and those tasty green flavors to really ride the wave without spiciness taking a front position hogging all the glory. Almost everyone can enjoy Melinda’s Green Sauce. In fact, with its thickness, big flavor, and milder heat, it’s more of an everyday table sauce than many other hot sauces. This is definitely a case where I don’t mind the heat getting out of the way as quick as it does.
Melinda’s mentions on its label, “Great on Barbacoa and Carnitas, gyros, rice and beans, hummus, raw or roasted vegetables, any Asian, Indian, or Middle Eastern cuisines.” That sounds about right. It’s pretty versatile, even with the vegetal flavor. I added this to my pad thai (with extra veggies) and thought it was a perfect combination.
I also found it delicious on eggs and as a salad topping. And it works reasonably well on Mexican food.
There’s a reason this is packaged in a plastic squeeze bottle: because you’ll be using a lot of it. The heat is eatable enough that you’ll want to squeeze out a decent portion size whenever you use it. As mentioned, it’s more like a table sauce — an entry-level, gateway hot sauce — to bolder things. Many could grab this as you would a ketchup or mustard without a lot of fear of the heat.
The label on Melinda’s Green Sauce (really all Melinda’s sauces) is a work of art. It draws your eye and complements the green color of the sauce and the red spout. I love the vibe: A mix of homemade, yet classy. It’s packaging to draw you into a home-cooked, family gathering experience — not to dare you into eating even a drop. It looks inviting on the table, not scary or intimidating.
If you love herbaceous, vegetal “green” flavors and plenty of tang in your hot sauce, you’ll enjoy Melinda’s Green Sauce. It packs at most a low-medium heat, making it plenty eatable, too, for most. It can be used more like a spicy table sauce than a dash-at-a-time hot sauce.
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