Chili Peppers come in all sizes and shapes. They range from extremely hot to just a bit of heat. Some are so hot that they are barely edible. Indeed these peppers are often made into sauces instead of eaten fresh. The chili peppers most often used are more versatile and can be used as a main part of the meal or as seasoning.

Wearing rubber gloves when working with hot peppers keeps unintended discomfort to a minimum. Removing seeds and inner white ribs can cool a pepper down a bit. As in all cooking it is best to taste the pepper before you decide how much to use.

Chili peppers can be dried and later rehydrated. Dried chilies have a different flavor than fresh chilies. Often it takes fewer dried chilies for a recipe than fresh. Waiting until the chili has turned red or is mature is best for drying. To dry chilies it is best to either string them together and hang in a warm dry spot or lay them flat on a screen in a warm dry spot. Leaving air space between each chili on the screen will facilitate drying. Make sure they are completely dry before storing them in an airtight container.

Red and Green Jalapeno Peppers

Tubes of Water and Red Mulch help to get an early start.

Since both Sweet and Hot Peppers originate in Central and South America it is no surprise that they prefer warm weather and warm soil to grow in. Pepper transplants should go into the garden in spring as soon as the night time temperatures are around 55 and there is no more danger of frost. A cold soggy soil will slow growth and possibly kill a pepper plant.

Soil should be well drained with plenty of organic matter. In cold spring areas, mulches can help warm up the ground to help give the peppers a boost. Red Mulch has been shown to be very effective in increasing the yield of peppers, not only in the north, but throughout the United States. Plastic cones filled with water (Season Starters) also boost the temperature and with peppers every little bit counts.

Fertilize with an all purpose fertilizer at planting and, as the plant sets more flowers, add a vegetable fertilizer. Watering should be consistent and plentiful but soil should not become so wet that roots cannot get air. Space plants about every 18 to 24 inches in full sun. If flowers form on very small plants, they should be removed so the plants can make more leaves before setting fruit. The abundance of leaves helps the plant to make food and provides shade for the fruit when the sun is scorching hot.

For ways to use your homegrown, organic peppers, check out these recipes.

JALAPENO PEPPERS---2,500-8,000 Scoville Units

Maybe the most famous pepper of all time, Jalapenos (pictured above) have a moderate amount of heat and lots of flavor. Take the seeds and the white interior out (with gloves, please) for a bit milder flavor. Jalapenos will turn red if left on the plant. These have a bit more sweetness. Drying them is also a good idea for winter use or to add to homemade chili powder for a bit of a kick.

When Jalapenos are smoked they are called Chipotles. You can smoke your own, if you have a smoker. But, an easier way to get a bit of smoky taste in the pepper is to fire roast them. Any pepper can be fire roasted. These soft peppers make great veggie sandwiches or topping for your favorite burger.

Fresno Chili Pepper Bush

FRESNO CHILI PEPPERS---5,000-10,000 Scoville Units

This pepper is the next level of heat up from a Jalapeno. It rates between 5,000 and 10,000 on the Scoville chart. It is the same size as a Jalapeno and can be used green or red. Red peppers are mature peppers with more heat. Fresno peppers grow upward from the stem instead of downward like most peppers.

BOLIVIAN RAINBOW PEPPER---10,000-30,000 Scoville Units
Sometimes thought of more as an ornamental pepper than a hot pepper, Bolivian Rainbow certainly brings the heat as well as the beauty. Peppers start out purple and go through yellow orange and red. The cool thing is that all colors are on the pepper plant at the same time. This is a centuries old variety well worth a spot in your garden or in a container on your patio.

CHOCOLATE HABANERO PEPPER---400,00-450,000 Scoville Units

This black habanero pepper is so hot it takes only a sliver to change the flavor of the dish it is used in. They dry well and keep for a long time. They are considerably hotter than their orange cousins.

Take a look at our other chocolate plants.

When cooking with really hot peppers, you should always wear gloves and wash your knife and anything else you used before you remove your gloves. Be careful not to inhale over hot water like when you are doing the dishes.

Chocolate Habanero Dipping Sauce
(perfect with fried green tomatoes)

1/4 cup malt vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons water

Mix these together and heat for a minute in the microwave or on the stove top to melt the sugar.

3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro (optional)

Add these to the warm mixture and let stand for two minutes.

1 chocolate habanero chopped
A green or brown one may be used and all or a portion may be used. Add this to the hot vinegar mix. Ultimately this will be strained out. The longer it sits before you strain it the hotter the dipping sauce gets. Taste after 30 seconds.

When it reaches the spiciness you like, strain and serve.

Chocolate Habanero Dipping Sauce

Choose our pepper six packs and your sixth plant is free!

Cultural Information

Height: 24 inches  

Hardiness: Warm Weather Annual

Time to Harvest: 6 to 8 weeks

Characteristics: Full Sun,
Frequent watering

Used: Raw, Grilled, Roasted
or Cooked with other food

Choose a Chili Pepper $5.45 or Chili Pepper Six Pack $27.25 (6 PACKS ARE SOLD OUT)



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