Yesterday I arrived home from work to find that Scott, Cathy and Jacob Grzybek, from Zukay Live Foods, had sent me a complimentary shipment of six jars of their raw, naturally fermented salsas and relishes. These are fresh, whole foods that have been fermented with friendly lactobacillis bacteria, preserving the food and giving it the same healthful benefits as yogurt. I received mild and hot salsa, garlic relish and horseradish relish. These products are supposed to be good for digestion and general health, literally bursting, as they are, with life. Scott, Cathy and Jacob use no chemicals or preservatives—just a small bit of raw apple cider vinegar in the relishes. The jars came with a warning that because the contents are a live food, they may exhibit activity as the jar is opened. We experienced this with the hot salsa as it became a mini-volcano and rose up an inch out of the jar and over the edge! I was prepared with a spoon and bowl to quickly corral the runaway salsa. My son assisted me with tasting these products, drawing on his vast experience with chips and salsa. He thinks chips and salsa are the main ingredients of a healthy diet, so I was eager to get his opinion.
I don’t think you can fairly compare these products to the more commonly available salsas and relishes on the market. They are kind of different. They have a slight fizz, for one thing, and they are lacking the strong vinegary and salty taste of commercial products. When you sample these foods, you can absolutely taste the fresh veggies and herbs that went into them. The relish tastes clearly of fresh cucumber and the other ingredients in the mix. It’s like a little burst of summer.
I’d have to agree with other reviewers that the hot salsa is lacking the heat you might expect from a hot salsa. Both the mild and hot varieties tasted very mild to me. They were pleasing, but not at all spicy, so if you are looking for heat, this may not be your best choice. The flavor grew on me as I sampled it, and I particularly enjoyed the “hot” salsa. It was more textural and interesting than the mild. The two relishes (garlic and horseradish) were yummy, with all of the flavors in good balance. I had garlic relish on my tempeh at dinner tonight and it really added sparkle. My son loves hot and spicy foods and these were a bit too subdued for his taste.
Thanks to Scott, Cathy and Jacob Grzybek for including me in their sampling program.