Enjoy the peppery heat of Horopito - New Zealand's native bush pepper tree. Use as a gourmet alternative to any other pepper, as a meat rub, or seasoning to vegetables.
Horopito is a very slow growing plant and takes 5 years or more of growth before it can be harvested, and the leaves have traditionally been used by the Maori people.
100% dried wild Horopito: Our Horopito is currently harvested from wild New Zealand forest bordering a national park.
First things first. I loved the packaging, I loved the look and smell of the raw product and I was keen to try an alternate to black pepper. I think Forest Gourmet are making some high quality new products that are a credit to New Zealand and they are definitely on my radar now. This was a good size and had enough but not too much that you would start to need to "use it up".
It was a bit hard initially to gauge volume to add. So for my avocado on toast I did some experimenting and it looked great. More was fine and initially I was probably a bit sparse as I worried it would be overpowering... don't think that is a concern. I felt this was a bit of a lovely look but perhaps less of a strong taste - looked fab on an omelette.
I think the initial division here for taste is probably between "pepper lovers" and the rest. I am in the pepper is ok camp and found this lovely and added a "certain something" to simple dishes (soup, eggs, hot sandwiches, veggies). Husband is in the pepper love camp and found it underwhelming. He thought it was overpriced and didn't add enough 'anything' for him. I, on the other hand, thought it was a great new unusual taste. The description on the packet mentions subtle and I think that is what you need to keep in mind as I think I was a bit hesitant the first few times. For me, this is not a product to use in combination with a bunch of herbs or flavours as it is quite easily lost if you combine with strong flavours (eg salt, basil, lemon)
For my budget, it is probably a bit pricey but that might be because by the end I felt I was using a fair bit to get a great flavour I liked. A nice change but probably not a staple in our house due to the subtle taste.
Horopito Bush Pepper is one of those abstract to me spices that I have heard about on various cooking programs and is often mentioned by chef's but one that I have never had the opportunity to try - and hadn't purchased. This little pouch of Forest Gourmet Horopito Bush Pepper arrived in a great resealable pouch that showed the flakes and is grown and produced right here in our little New Zealand. We love New Zealand products and supporting New Zealand grown/made so this is an excellent addition to our repertoire of fantastic products.
I did a little research to understand how to be use horopito bush pepper and discovered the leaves have a hot peppery, citrusy taste and can be used in a wide range of ways from seasoning fish or marinating meat, added to salads, marinades or vegetables. The opportunities are endless - it can be used as regular pepper only it is much nicer and has a unique flavour that adds some zest to a dish. We were lucky to catch a kingfish the day we decided to experiment with the horopito bush pepper - I used it to season the fish which was cubed and then we popped it on the bbq and voila - what a fantastic dish that was enjoyed by the Grandparents, us and the children. A good little hit of pepper but the unexpected delight is the zesty citrus taste - almost like lemon pepper only nicer. I also added it into potatoe salad, on grilled corn and mixed a little with butter and garlic for spreading on garlic/horopito bush pepper bread.
We all enjoyed the flavour and a little goes a long way. The price at $10.95/12 gram pouch is reasonable as it adds that extra 5% magic to your dishes and it's always nice to serve guests and family something different. I will look to see where we can source this in Taupo as it is one spice that will want to have on hand, especially to see what it does to my winter soups and stews - a great product.
My hubby is the cook in this house and strongly believes that the most perfect accompaniment to everything is pepper. He cannot make a dish without adding pepper to it - so I thought that this would be a really nice thing for him to try, and also to try our kids with it - as I have been told it is less harsh than traditional pepper.
We happened to be having fish and chips the night the reviews arrived, and I do not eat them, so hubby made me an omelette and handed me the pouch of Horopito Bush pepper with my omlette and plate, so I pinched a little out and sprinkled it over. It really looked nice - way nicer than flecks of black pepper and the bonus was, no sharp taste if you got a little in a mouthful. My 6 year old asked to try some of my dinner, and I explained about the pepper, and after trying it he announced "it's a nice bit of spicy Mum" - so a definite thumbs up from him about it being nice but not too strong.
Over the next little while I have been using this with a few dishes and in a few ways - definitely with different ways of eggs - tried fried, scrambled, hard-boiled and all worked well and tasted perfect with the addition of these wee flakes! I also make a crusted steak and added that to my crust mixture, into a pasta dish, onto toasted sandwiches, on top of pizza, and over roast vegies. This little herb/plant is amazing with everything and is so darn versatile!
In terms of another plus - the bag is resealable so can be opened and resealed a lot of times, meaning no need for another container and is kept airtight. I opted for one of our meals to have a wee dish of it out, and it looked and worked brilliantly in terms of using it. I do have to admit I was not 100% sure of what to expect of this wee wild treasure, but it has opened my eyes of new things I had not ever heard of!
I am NOT a pepper person, never have been, it is one of those things where I know it adds a bit of flavour but I don't like the heat, so to speak, that it brings to the meal. Opening up the packet was a little difficult and left me wishing that I had used scissors to carefully cut it open but at least this is resealable, so it's going to keep its freshness. I gave it a sniff, no pepper up the nose sensation and gave it a little taste, which gave a slight peppery taste without the heat hit that I don't like, so I was looking forward to trying it out with some meals.
The first dish I made was a pesto and Parmesan pasta dish, I sprinkled a little on top of all our plates and was pleasantly surprised when none of the kids commented on it. I myself found it added a nice little flavour to the overall dish. The next meal I added some to a bean on coconut rice dish that I was trying out, in place of the chilli that the recipie said to add. Again, this was a nice flavour to add to the dish. I made a quinoa dish which required roasting some pumpkin, onion and Beetroot first, usually I just add a dash of salt, but I added this to it as well and found it made the pumpkin a little more palatable than it usually is for me.
I enjoyed this more than I thought, I can finally have that addition of taste without the bite of heat I don't like, I will be getting this again for sure.
As with the kawakawa horopito is something I had never tasted but had heard a lot about. Pepper is one of my most utilised seasonings when cooking so I was very keen to try something different. I love the subtle heat that pepper adds and was intrigued to see how much this would resemble the peppers I was familiar with. On opening the packet I was presented with a leafy format so different to what I would normally see in a pepper being they usually come in a peppercorn or powdered format and I noticed straight away it kind of had an earthy fragrance rather than that hit you at the back of the nose and make you need to sneeze pepper smell.
I tasted a small amount on the tip of my finger and the earthy taste I had picked the scent of was certainly there but I straight away noticed it did have that peppery bite though much more subtle than peppercorn varities. This was actually quite pleasant as you could use it to season food and get the peppery taste without adding too much heat. It added more of a depth of flavour as a seasoning than pepper would as it has a rich earthy taste so as a herb is a bit more dynamic than using more common peppers and I would happily use this in seasoning food in the future.
As with the Kawakawa flakes I had researched that Horopito has been used in traditional Maori medicine and I find this appealing again horopito has been known to help with stomach aches so would be a good herb to have in the cupboard for making natural healthy tonics. We used it as seasoning in a range of meals in the place of pepper aand have thoroughly enjoyed the flavour it adds.
As with the packaging of other Forest Gourmet products I love that these pouches are robust and resealable so I can keep the horopito fresh in the pantry. The horopito has a window so you can see through to see the dried leaves inside the packet thought the label doesnt have too much information other than telling us what horopito is it is clear and eye catching and gave me enough information to know that I could use this like a pepper.
I am going to make this very clear right from the start that pepper is my favourite spice to add to meals because it packs a bold flavour punch and you only need a small quantity of it to get a robust taste. The packaging of the Forest Gourmet Horopito bush pepper is a little translucent 12-gram pouch that allows you to see the ground up flakes from the front and has very little information other than what it is and realistically that is all it truly needs as I have said before - less is sometimes more. I tore open the pouch and opened the resealable tab and took a pinch of the Horopito then proceeded to taste it by itself to gauge how profound the peppery flavour would be and was surprised to find it is subtle but still carrying a nice heat to it. It has a very leafy texture which I was expecting and a nice earthy vibe which gives it that fresh feel to it.
I decided that we would make homemade burgers for dinner and took out 500 grams of beef mince and combined it in a bowl with the Horopito bush pepper and another Forest Gourmet product of Kawakawa flakes, mixed it well with some bbq sauce and egg then portioned it out into five burger patties. I cooked the patties and then placed them onto the buns adding cheese, pickles, coleslaw, and a peach and mango chutney all atop of the patties. I broke a piece off the patty off one of my burgers to try by itself and was very pleased with the flavor that the Horopito and kawakawa flakes had provided as it had a rich earthy pepper taste to it that complimented the meatiness very well but was not overpowering, which turned out to be very popular with the children too.
My eldest daughter decided to try some added into her tomato soup as she is also a fan of pepper and she said it was tasty but didn't have as bold of a pepper flavour as she would have really liked. Probably the only flaw I found with this is that it is great for people who want a peppery taste that isn't too pronounced but for someone like myself I really like to season my dishes with quite a strong peppery flavour and to get it using Horopito would mean I would really have to dose something with it to get the same effect that a little bit of black pepper could do.
Horopito pepper is great for adding to dishes if you want a subtle light pepper flavor to it which is perfect for younger children but for myself, I think I will stick to the ground black pepper. It would also be great on dishes or meats that you want the pepper taste but don't want to compromise or lose the flavour of the dish as I have made the mistake in the past of adding a bit too much pepper onto a great piece of steak and regretting it.
Horopito is the perfect partner for egg dishes. It does not have the sharpness of black pepper but looks good and has the advantage of being kid-friendly. A real plus when you are catering for a group that includes children who complain about pepper being too hot. Horopito has that lovely almost-peppery effect but with a more diffuse flavour, and it brings out the best in many egg and vegetable dishes.
As our boys (aged five and seven) were staying the night, I made scrambled egg for all of us for breakfast, and let them help themselves to the horopito as I know from experience that little ones are more likely to eat the food in front of them if they have put it on their own plates. Both of them were cautious, but when they saw me putting plenty on, they were a little more adventurous. None of us used salt as the horopito has quite enough kick on its own, and salt can of course mask other less intrusive flavours. Anyway, the boys both loved it and so did I. I did not tell them that it was also known as bush pepper as that might have swayed their opinion, but Mr Seven saw the label and said it must be a new kind of pepper as he liked it!
Over the next few days I tried it with various other foods - canned tomato soup (normally very boring but a little horopito sprinkled on top made a huge difference); pan fried fish in butter which looked a million dollars once I had added some finely chopped red capsicum and a good pinch of horopito; and, my personal favourite, a dish of prawns tossed in garlic butter and horopito. That last dish was so flavoursome that I had to scrape the pan to save every scrap of butter and pepper! It was becoming increasingly clear that this is a condiment which is highly versatile, deserving of a place in every kitchen.
The one item I had not tried it with was a meat dish, so I thought it might go well with a chicken supreme. This is a casserole dish which includes chicken pieces and a creamy sauce, and whatever else happens to be available - especially if the additions are also light in colour. I had leeks and chicory, so I included both in the casserole as well. Although this dish tastes wonderful, it can look somewhat boring - especially if it is being served with mashed potato or white rice! Once it was cooked, I topped it with a mixture of white breadcrumbs and horopito; the dish was then left under the grill for the topping to brown. Success! Not only did the dish emerge looking absolutely beautiful, it tasted divine as well. The horopito was a perfect addition; it brought out the creamy flavour and ensured that every last morsel was used up - resulting in a clean casserole dish and a very happy family!
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