Pick a Pepper!!
For a lot of us, it's time to start peppers indoors! The Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) staffers told us all about their favorite pepper varieties, both sweet and hot.
Jim and Nicole both picked ‘Hot Portugal’, a variety that was first offered in 1935 by Joseph Harris & Co, of Coldwater, New York, who said that "If you want a large hot pepper, you should try the new Hot Portugal. The best hot pepper we know." According to Jim, “The heat doesn’t overpower the flavor.”
Jeanine is all about the 'Santa Fe Grande'! She states, “They are just the right amount of heat while still incredibly flavorful and delicious. And they are beautifully yellow-green, then orange, then red. I hang them on string from my ceiling to dry and at this point they are my favorite home decoration. When they are completely dry, I put them in jars and and take them out to sprinkle on top of my homemade pizza for extra flavor.”
Amy chose two peppers, 'Alma Paprika' and 'Sweet Chocolate'. She says, “ ‘Alma Paprika’ has thick walls, sweet flavor and matures through three distinct color changes (pale yellow - shades of orange - and eventually deep cherry red). Productive, flavorful and a good snacker. One would assume you could also dry and pulverize it for paprika seasoning; though I haven't tried it.
'Sweet Chocolate’ is also productive, but the fruit it smaller than an average bell pepper type. Super flavorful pepper, with a beautiful deep burgundy brown color. A great sweet pepper added to salsa, salads, for dipping, etc.”
Emily likes 'Jimmy Nardello's'. “I like to eat them fresh from my garden with hummus, grilled of course, and I also dry and save them for the winter months to put in rice dishes, on pizzas, or in soups. They are my favorite pepper year round and in just about anything. I can't wait to eat them fresh again fresh by far is the best!!!”
'Aurora' can be used as both an ornamental variety and for eating. According to Tom, “Planted in a raised bed by the house, a beautiful and colorful ornamental. Then my wife uses them whole to can with 'Mexican Sour Gherkins'. Beautiful multi-color morsels with some heat!”
Jennifer shared more than her favorites, she also gave us some great cooking advice: “‘Chervena Chuska’ is my favorite. I just eat them fresh. The super sweet flavor is surprising in a pepper. My favorite hot peppers include ‘Aurora’, ‘Fish’, and ‘Jalapeno Traveler's Strain’ and my favorite sweet peppers are ‘Kalman's Hungarian’, ‘Bull Nose Bell’, ‘Chocolate Beauty’, and ‘Garden Sunshine’. I mix hot and sweet peppers of as many colors as I can get and can them in my salsa (Who wants boring green peppers in their salsa when you can have yellow, green, purple, red, and orange peppers in the mix? Just measure the hot peppers separately when chopping the produce so you know how spicy your salsa will be.)
I also dice up different colored peppers and freeze them on a cookie sheet, or I freeze them whole after washing them and removing the stem and seeds. After they are frozen I bag them up into freezer bags. Then all winter I can cook stirfrys, omelets, and stuffed peppers with garden peppers instead of buying expensive waxed peppers from the grocery store.”
Finally, Steven grows ‘Fatalii’ peppers every year: “...I dry them in a dehydrator, crush them into a powder and use them to add heat to almost anything without really changing the flavor. I also love my food hot!”
Seed Savers Exchange is a nonprofit organization located in Decorah, Iowa, with a mission to conserve and promote America's culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.