With the largest portion of the tomato crop in for the year and our canning cabinet full of everything from tomato juice to salsa, pasta sauce, ketchup and more – it’s now time for the pepper crop to take over. And wow – has it ever!
In just the last few weeks – the peppers have come to life in the garden and landscape. As much as we love growing all of the beautiful heirloom varieties of tomatoes – the colors, varieties and flavor range of the peppers have always made them my personal favorite to grow.
We grew over 20 varieties of peppers in the garden and landscape this year, with about half of them hot. California Wonder and Big Bertha Green, Red, Yellow and Orange Bell, Marconi, Italian Roaster, Mariachi, Lunchbox, Super Cayenne, Mama Mia, Chinese Lantern, Jalapeno, Hot Banana, Cajun Belle, Ghost, Carolina Reaper, Poinsettia and Sangria all found their way onto the farm this year. And all of them are now loaded with peppers!
When it comes to hot peppers – hot peppers get their heat and kick from capsaicin, the substance located in the seed pod and in the membrane lining of the pepper’s inner walls.
If you remove that – you remove most of the heat. We happen to love the heat – so we usually leave most of it in.
So – what do we do with all of our peppers?
Green Bell, Sweet Red and Yellow peppers – They are of course amazing to just slice and eat fresh and perfect for relish trays. We also use them to stuff with chicken and rice and for our stir fry dinners.
For later use – freezing is the name of the game. We slice them up and use a food saver to shrink-wrap them into stir fry packets for use through the winter. Mary also uses the red to make and can a delicious roasted red pepper recipe : (see : Roasted Red Pepper recipe)
Marconi and Italian Roaster peppers – Big fleshy and meaty – both of these make for excellent stuffed peppers and are great for pasta dishes.
Jalapeno peppers – Another versatile and much used pepper in our house – we use them to eat fresh and in our salsa and picante – as well as to make one of our favorite – stuffed jalapeno poppers.
Of course, when it comes to canning – nothing can beat the taste of Cowboy Candy – a perfectly spiced and sweet condiment made with jalapenos. (See: Cowboy Candy recipe).
We leave many of our jalapenos to turn red on the plants – and then smoke them into chipotle peppers. (see: making your own Chipotle Peppers)
Cajun Belle Peppers – The Cajun Belle is one of our favorites. It grows so well for us with super high yields of 2″ peppers that have very little seed core. They are another pepper that seems to have the perfect blend of sweet with a little heat. We use them to make stuffed cheese appetizers and they are also great to add color and zing to salads and salsa.
Hot Banana peppers – grown as the main ingredient in Mary’s famous (and secret) Hot Pepper Mustard. We also use them sliced up in salads and they are the perfect fit to spice up a sandwich! We also use them to make hot pepper rings (see : hot banana pepper ring recipe)
Chinese Hot Pepper, Cayenne , Chili Chili, Black Pearl, Calico and Poinsettia peppers
So last but not least – when we have made everything we can think of and we still have hundreds of peppers left – we make our own pepper flakes, pepper powder, taco seasoning and even chili powder from our peppers.
It is a great way to use up loads of peppers before they go bad – and so simple to do! The taste is so much more flavorful than anything you can buy in the supermarket – and without all of the added preservatives and sodium! See : Hot Pepper Flake/Powder recipe and Taco Seasoning / Chili Powder recipe
Ghost Pepper and Carolina Reaper peppers – I really don’t know and can’t explain why we grow these. They are beyond hot – in fact – the Carolina Reaper registers 1.2 million Scoville units on the heat scale – compare that to the 3,000 of a jalapeno – and it would be ridiculous to try to eat them. However – they are great for our impromptu family hot pepper eating contests – and the perfect remedy for that person that says they can handle “anything hot” 🙂
Peppers In The Landscape
On a final note – one of our favorite things to do with our pepper plants is to use them to brighten up the landscape. We use our ornamental varieties such as Sangria, Chinese lantern, Calico and Poinsettia in our flower beds and in hanging pots to add color where needed. They are unbelievably hardy, and their hundreds of colorful blooms bring the landscape to life – in an edible way!
Whatever you use – peppers are a great way to grow a little flavor and color into your life!
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Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary