We name the best-selling ingredients at Sous Chef in 2019, revealing that premium salt is increasingly popular, while Mediterranean ingredients are flavours of the year. From a selection of more than 4,000 products, these are the defining items of the past 12 months.
Best-selling food and ingredients of 2019
- Perello Gordal Pitted Olives
- Torres Black Truffle Crisps
- San Marzano Tomatoes
- White Miso
- Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
- Green Peppercorns in Brine
- Kosher Salt
- Italian '00' flour
Flavours of the Mediterranean
Olives, San Marzano tomatoes, Italian pasta flour and truffle crisps all made it into the list of top 10 products, revealing the UK’s growing appetite for sunshine flavours from the Mediterranean. Sales of finely ground Italian 00 flour rose by 23.5% in 2019, indicating that Brits are increasingly making fresh pasta and pizza bases at home – paired with San Marzano tinned tomatoes, which are the preferred Italian choice for pizza and pasta sauces. These long, sweet tomatoes are grown in particularly fertile volcanic soil near Naples and are loved for their low acidity.
Meanwhile, tahini sales grew by 50% in 2019. This sesame paste first became popular in the UK via Greece and Cyprus but now customers are looking beyond the Mediterranean to varieties from the Levant. Sous Chef’s top-selling tahini is from Lebanon.
Customers are also going Mediterranean when it comes to pre-dinner bites. Spanish Perello olives have gained a cult following thanks to their slightly spicy kick from guindilla chilli, while sales of Spanish Torres truffle crisps rose by 37% in 2019. These Mediterranean snacks are perfect with a cool beer before dinner!
The Rise of Kosher Salt
Kosher salt is loved by chefs for its fine flakes and delicate taste, with no added iodine. The lighter flakes make it easier to control the salt’s intensity – because a pinch of Kosher salt is less strident than a pinch of standard fine-ground table salt. Sales of kosher salt rose by 36% in 2019, which could also be due to an increased interest in preserving food. Kosher salt is a very popular for salting and drying food as the flakes stick to food easily, and it doesn’t contain anti-caking agents which affect curing.
Meanwhile, sales in earthy miso rose by 77% in 2019. This Japanese seasoning has deep umami flavour, which adds unique savoury saltiness to dishes. And chefs are using miso in increasingly imaginative ways, such as balancing sweet recipes including miso caramel, miso chocolate brownies and miso ice cream.
Nicola Lando, Sous Chef founder says:
“Salt is probably the one ingredient we can guarantee is in all kitchens across the UK. So it makes sense that customers (both professional chefs and home cooks) are becoming more thoughtful about their salt. Chefs are increasingly choosing Kosher salt for its versatility. Meanwhile, we’ve seen a steady rise in the popularity of Mediterranean ingredients, so it’s no surprise to see the top 10 products dominated by the flavours of Spain and Italy.”
Buy the Sous Chef best-selling ingredients:
Perello Gordal pitted olives are a cult favourite. Gordal olives are one of the finest Spanish olives – bright green, plump and crisp.
Perello olives are tinned in brine with guindilla chilli – giving the olives a slight hot kick. Drain and serve the Gordal olives for a pre-dinner bite, or enjoy as part of an antipasti selection with cold meats and cheese. The mildly spicy olives are also a great addition to salads.
Serve these black truffle flavour crisps at cocktail or dinner parties, and watch your guests’ faces go ‘wow’! These unassuming potato crisps pack an intense black truffle punch when they hit the taste buds, for a memorable party nibble that will have everyone coming back for more!
The crisps are made by Torres, a company from Barcelona that have been making gourmet potato chips since 1969.
Also known as pomodori pelati (literally "peeled tomatoes"), San Marzano tomatoes are grown in a small area around Naples. The variety has been awarded a DOP by the EU, which specifies the precise cultivar, processing method and region in which the tomatoes can be grown.
This brand of tahini is one of the best we've tried at Sous Chef. It has a velvety texture, with a slightly sweet and wonderfully nutty flavour.
To make a classic Israeli dressing - also known as tahini sauce - whisk the sesame paste with ice cold water, lemon juice and a pinch of salt until lightly coloured and silky smooth. Spoon generously over falafel and almost any roasted vegetables.
White miso is a fermented bean paste used at the heart of Japan’s cuisine. It has a salty taste, and sweeter, lighter flavours than red miso.
Simply stir two tablespoons of white miso paste into dashi stock to make miso soup, and then add seaweed, mushroom, noodles and tofu. This versatile white miso paste is great in light vinaigrette dressings for salads and side dishes, as well as sauces or glazes for white fish.
Kimchi is a spicy, pungent condiment made from fermented vegetables. It’s a staple of Korean cuisine, and many families make their own. The origins of kimchi go right back to around 37BC – surviving Chinese records of the time indicate that the Korean people were already skilled in making pickled and fermented foods to make sure none of their harvest went to waste.
Use La Costena chipotle peppers in adobo sauce to add big smoky warmth to Mexican dishes. Plump jalapeños are slowly smoked to mellow out their heat and give them smoky depth. Here, they are canned in adobo sauce – a tomato sauce with vinegar and paprika – making the chipotles a versatile ingredient. Try roughly chopping the chipotles and adding to a Mexican meat stew, use a whole chipotle to top a Mexican-inspired burger, or even add a smoky twist to a homemade tomato ketchup.
Green peppercorns in brine are the chef's favourite ingredient when it comes to making a peppercorn sauce for steak. These whole green peppercorns are the unripe fruits of the pepper plant, piper nigrum. If left to mature they would turn into black peppercorns.
Preserving the unripe green peppercorns in brine means they are still packed with flavour but haven't yet developed the same pungency. They're much fresher tasting than white or black peppercorns, with a mild, tingling heat.
Diamond Crystal kosher salt is a world-renowned variety, famed for its texture, flavour and the way that the grains stick to food easily. Diamond Crystal kosher salt is a pure and natural variety with no additives. It is referenced throughout The French Laundry cookbook, with Thomas Keller explaining: “we use a specific brand of kosher salt, Diamond Crystal, because of the size of the grains.”
'00' flour, or ‘doppio zero’ is what most Italian households use to make fresh egg pasta. The white Italian flour is finely-milled, resulting in grains which are finer than semolina, but larger than cornflour.Italian 00 flour is highly-refined from the whitest part of the grain. Because it is extracted from such a small part of the wheat, the flour is normally used for specific recipes, unlike an all-purpose flour.