Peppers in the garden

Cayenne Peppers
Kung Pao Peppers

I was talking to some friends about how our garden is doing – we have seven different kinds of peppers going right now, including four hot varieties, so I’m listing them here for our, and their, reference. I’m sure when they’re ripe, they’re going to be prolific, so make your requests now ;-)

The number after the pepper type is its measure on the Scoville scale, which measures the hotness of a pepper. The scale goes from 0 for sweet bell peppers to 15-16 million for pure capsaicin, which is the chemical that supplies the heat in a hot pepper. In 2006, the habanero pepper, with a Scoville range of 350,000–580,000 for heat, was overtaken by a new variety: the Bhut Jolokia from India, with a Scoville range of 855,000–1,041,427. That’s scary hot.

By the way, “hot” and “spicy” are not the same thing; hot is heat (duh) and spicy has a lot of spices in it. Spices are the dried seeds, fruits, roots, bark and other parts of plants (not including the leaves, which are herbs); examples are cumin seed, peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and saffron. So food can be spicy but not hot.

Here’s a hot tip (groan ;-) ): If you eat something that’s too hot from chiles, drinking water, beer or wine won’t help. Capsaicin is not water-soluble, so those beverages won’t reduce the heat at all. Instead, have some dairy ready, maybe as a dip or sauce – milk, sour cream or yogurt will counter the heat.

Chile peppers are an ancient crop that originated in what is now Mexico and South America. After European explorers found the Western Hemisphere, peppers spread around the world and now are found in cuisines everywhere. There’s lots more information on chile peppers at the Chile Pepper Institute, a program of New Mexico State University.

Weekend Herb Blogging: Two Years - Doubly DelishNow that I’ve written all this up, I thought I’d submit it to Weekend Herb Blogging, a weekly blogging event begun by Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen, and hosted this week by Simona, who writes Briciole.

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7 Responses to “Peppers in the garden”

  • Simona says:

    Scary hot, indeed! I only have one kind of pepper in my garden and it is not doing well. I am glad to read your harvest will be plentiful.

  • Kalyn says:

    Nice photo of the peppers. I am growing poblano peppers this year, which are pretty mild and I admit I’m a bit of a hot-pepper wimp.

  • KimL says:

    Hi, Simona. I’d like to taste that new Indian pepper sometime, just to say I did it ;-) Sorry your pepper isn’t doing well. We’ve picked several of the Anaheims already.

    Kalyn, thanks for stopping by. Next year, I’ll make a better list of the peppers I want to grow. I have several recipes for poblanos in Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill cookbook, but I guess I’ll have to buy them.

  • Elizabeth says:

    My husband loves insanely hot peppers. We’ll have to look for “Bhut Jolokia” for him.

    I am growing cayennes – they really do taste better from the garden, don’t they? I love the citrus quality they get.

    The peppers I planted came in boxes of four plants. Our garden is tiny so I gave one of them to our neighbour, who also loves fresh green chillies from the garden. And here’s a really amazing thing: the raccoons that have been tearing up his grass STOLE two of his chillis that were ripening on the plant!!

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