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Holy Hot Peppers – Sweet!

December 19, 2014
The wrinkles on this pepper tell you it's HOT! Use with caution!

The wrinkles on this pepper tell you it’s HOT! Use with caution!

When most people go to the store they see, typically, a few types of peppers. Sweet peppers are the common “California wonder” bell pepper in green, red or yellow, and hot peppers are jalapenos. Sometimes banana peppers are available. The canned food section may have chilis, or dried chili or cayenne peppers.

Most people aren’t aware that there are over 3,000 varieties of hot peppers, and about the same of sweet peppers. The difference is the amount of  capsicum – that’s what makes the hot peppers hot.

Many believe there are medical benefits to the use of peppers in the diet. Peppers are rated by scoville units – the higher the number, the hotter the pepper. A common sweet bell pepper, for example, has under 100 on the scoville rating, while Ed’s Carolina Reaper is the hottest pepper in the world, with over 1.4 million – that’s 440 times hotter than a jalapeno. We’ll have both next year!

Did you know peppers are actually a perennial? If not killed off by cold, they can live and produce multiple years. Many use containers to bring them in during cold weather.

So what other types do we have to start? I’m glad you asked.

For those interested in sweet, or mild, peppers, the heirloom Bull Nose or Beaver dam are nice and not too hot. We’ll also have mini bells again – many are familiar with cherry tomatoes, but less so with the small versions of peppers – we’ll have them in chocolate (from our own saved seed), yellow and red from organic seed. Core, stuff with cream cheese and bacon bits and…yum! Chocolate Beauty, another bell pepper, is also in the seed list as is the common green bell pepper everyone knows and loves.

IMG_20140922_130946We’ll have pepperoncinis, cayenne, pimento and banana hots (from our own seed!). Like something different? Sheepnose pimento, brown maruga, carrot, Peruvian habanero (white), farmer’s market jalapenos (if you love different, you’ll love these!) and Cantina gold are just a few.

There are many types of peppers and varieties within that. For those familiar with dogs this can be breeds and varieties. Ancho or poblano peppers (we’ll have mulato Isleno, for example) are what is commonly used for chiles rellenos, or in mole sauce. They can be dried or ground into a powder. They’re fairly mild peppers, about 1,000 scoville units.

Bell peppers are familiar to most people and can be used fresh or frozen. They’re yummy in mild salsas.

Cayenne peppers are fairly hot, between 30,000 and 50,000 scoville units, and are popular in hot sauces. They’re long, smooth peppers usually 2-3 inches long.

Cherry peppers are round like – you guessed it! – cherries. These are sometimes grown as ornamental plants and are very mild.

Cuban peppers are traditionally fried. The pepperoncini peppers mentioned fall into this group, fairly mild and enjoyed in salads or pickled when not fried.

De Arbol is a small tree like plant, fairly hot, usually ground into powder or used with table sauces or dried as ristras.

red ripe jalapeno pepper

red ripe jalapeno pepper

Jalapenos are familiar to many for the pungent taste.

Mirasolare mild, with a tendency of the peppers to grow up rather than hanging down as so many varieties do.

Nu Mex is often used in Mexican style, and formerly the pod type was called Anaheim, but now that is a variety of the New Mexican pod type. Big Jim is another of this type, sometimes seen in garden catalogs.

Paprika is actually a type of sweet, brilliantly red pepper – Hungarian varieties are one form of this type.

Pasilla is a dark long pepper, while Pimiento are often used fresh, canned or stuffed in olives.

Piquins are small typically hot peppers sometimes grown as ornamental with under one inch pods.

Serranos are said to be the best for fresh salsa.

Squash type peppers are sometimes called tomato peppers – as the name suggest they are flattened pods and are hot peppers.

Wax peppers are often seen as sweet banana or Hungarian yellow wax peppers. One variety, a hybrid called Gold Spike is very hot.

There are also groups called exotic and ornamental peppers, grown for the pod shape rather than eating qualities.

While we won’t have all varieties of peppers, we’ll have a good mix of different types, and dried pepper flakes and powders as well. Love peppers? Get in line for delightful heat or yummy sweet peppers from SlowMoneyFarm – we’ll be starting seeds soon. Be a part of the first time some of these will be offered by us and visit our Facebook page to be 1 of 25 to get the first hot sauce from SlowMoneyFarm.

There’s only one first!

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