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.
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
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.
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
also boost the temperature and with peppers every little bit counts.
Fertilize with an all
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
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 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
CHOCOLATE HABANERO PEPPER---400,00-450,000 Scoville
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
When it reaches the spiciness you like, strain and serve.
Choose our pepper six packs
and your sixth plant is free!