Things are heating up in the Algarve
Are you brave enough to try the region’s newest hot sauces?
He doesn’t even like spicy food, but he is the mastermind behind a brand of hot sauces made in the Algarve which is enjoying great success here and abroad.
Cristiano Cipriano, 46, had the idea to launch Algarve Peppers, a family business that uses locally-grown chilli peppers to create a series of hot sauces which are already exported to the UK, Spain, Germany, Poland and even Macau.
The Algarve Peppers brand was created in 2015 and has been growing ever since, currently selling dozens of hot sauces made from over 40 varieties of chilli peppers planted by the family in Paderne, Albufeira.
The infamous Carolina Reaper and Bhut Jolokia are among the scorching chilli peppers used to create the sauces. The peppers are paired with other ingredients, such as peaches, ginger, carrots, onions, mangos, kiwis and many others, to create hot sauces with a twist.
“I was never a fan of spicy food and I’m still not, but as my mother had a few plantations, I thought that maybe producing chilli peppers wouldn’t be hard. I started experimenting, my friends liked the result and thus Algarve Peppers was born,” Cristiano told Barlavento newspaper.
Given his dislike of spicy food, it is his wife Sónia Cordeiro who is responsible for coming up with recipes and new ideas for the hot sauces.
“When my husband started planting the chilli peppers, we tried many varieties. I researched several recipes and there was a lot of trial and error,” Sónia, who also works as a Physical Education teacher, told the paper.
“I came up with interesting combinations and started using fruit, spices and vegetables which I thought would go well with the peppers,” she explained.
Interestingly, the sauces are more popular among the foreign community.
“Most of our customers are British. They always know the names and the intensity of each pepper,” said Cristiano, who used to work as a financial adviser for a construction company.
He explained that since the sauces have “peculiar Algarvian names”, like ‘Cagufa’, ‘Cagaice’ and ‘Xaringado’, locals find them funny and buy the products just because of it.
But Algarve Peppers are much more than the funny names they carry.
“Our products are homemade, biological and Algarve-made. We use vinegar instead of preservatives and our sauces are more concentrated, pulpy and have more peppers,” Sónia said.
In fact, many of the hot sauces that are sold at supermarkets hardly have any chilli peppers at all.
“What they usually use is capsaicin extract, which is a component of peppers. We have already been contacted by a company asking us if we were interested in buying the extract, but we said no. We only use chilli peppers,” she said.
The sauces can be found at local restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, tourism offices and also at Faro Airport and gourmet stores in Lagos and Castro Marim.
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Original article written by Maria Simiris for Barlavento newspaper.
Photos: JOÃO CHAMBINO/OPEN MEDIA GROUP