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Hot Peppers – Growing, Eating And Uses For The “HOT” Veggie!

Fiery-hot habanero peppers from the garden

Fiery-hot Habanero peppers from the garden

For as far back as I can remember – I have always loved anything hot!  As a kid – my friends and I would put as many red-hots into our mouths as we could fit – and then wince in pain until the heat built up to unbearable levels. It continues on today for both Mary and I – whether it’s chili, salsa or whatever – our motto is –  the hotter the better!

Spicy peppers in general have become a “hot” item among gardeners ( bad joke, I know! ). There are new varieties out every year – in all types of shapes, colors and heat levels. For some, they can be unbearable to eat – but there are many other uses – and not all of them result in your face turning red and you breaking out in a cold sweat! 🙂

We enjoy making our own hot pepper flakes, smoked chipotle peppers and chili powder

We enjoy making our own hot pepper flakes, smoked chipotle peppers and chili powder

Hot peppers can be used as appetizers, main dishes, ins soups, for pest and insect control, and to make some fantastic rubs and powders – including a recipe we will share late this summer – our own chili powder.

We grow at least 8 to 10 varieties of hot peppers each season – and try a few more new ones each year.  This year’s new choice – the Chinese Lantern – was an heirloom seed we picked up on a trip down south this past winter. So far – it has fared well – with thumb sized purple fruits that do indeed resemble a Chinese lantern.  They are also packed with heat!

We thought for today’s gardening post – we would share some of our best uses for our home-grown hot peppers in the kitchen and around the house and landscape. Feel free to leave us a comment on ways you use yours as well…we always love to find new ways to heat it up with hot peppers.  Here are ways we do:

Garden Control For Rabbits and Small Animals:

Hot Banana peppers between rows of tomatoes

Hot Banana peppers between rows of tomatoes

We use our hot pepper plants in the garden to help deter pests from having lunch and dinner or snack-time in our garden.  We plant the outer rows of our garden in our hot peppers – and then grow them in between our tomato plants as well to help deter critters.  It has worked well over the years – most animals are not very happy with the taste of a hot pepper!

Hot And Spicy Juice:

If you like hot and spicy juices, or a good bloody merry – then you will love this recipe using fresh hot peppers :  (Hot and Spicy Tomato Juice Recipe).  We like to drink it fresh – adding a little zest to boring old tomato juice – but it does make a mean bloody merry!

Drying For Spices

This may be our favorite use of all.  Every single year, we take hundreds of our extra peppers and make all kinds of products with dried hot peppers.  We make hot pepper flakes, hot pepper powder, taco seasoning and even chili powder from our own dried hot peppers.  We also smoke and make our own chipotle peppers from our red jalapenos late in the season.  For Recipes See: Making Your Own Chipotle Peppers  or  Making Your Own Hot Pepper Flakes And Powder

Soups :  

Hot peppers are a great addition to soups – bringing all kinds of heat and flavor.  Our favorite by far is our “Jalapeno Chicken” recipe.  But we also use our jalapeno’s, cayenne, and our Habanero in both our traditional and chicken chili recipes too.  See :  Jalapeno Chicken Recipe   or   Garden Fresh Hot And Spicy Chili .

Pest  and Critter Control

This was a topic in a recent post of ours. You can use your own fresh or dried hot peppers to help control insects and pests in the garden and landscape.  Not only will it kill aphids and other tiny pests – it’s a great deterrent to many more bugs too! It is an incredible all-organic way to help fight off pests.  With this type of spray – you do need to re-apply after every rain to keep the effectiveness of the spray.  See: Making Your Own Hot Pepper Spray

Use To Add Beautiful Color To Your Landscape Beds:

That’s right – you read that correctly.  Hot peppers can be a great addition to your landscaped beds and plantings – adding brilliant color to the beds while also helping to deter pests.

Sangria Peppers planted in a corner stone bed of the driveway

Sangria Peppers planted in a corner stone bed of the driveway

There are many hot pepper varieties like poinsettia and black and purple – that not only add amazing colors with their hundreds to thousands of colorful peppers – but are drought tolerant as well – making them a great choice.  We plant hundreds of them in beds and planters around the farm – they make a great conversation piece as well as adding beauty to the yard!   See:  Using Ornamental Peppers To Spice Up Your Landscape


Whether its homemade jalapeno poppers, stuffed sweet heat cajun belles – or spicy stuffed mariachi peppers – we use many of our hot peppers to make some killer appetizers as well as main dishes.   If you really like the heat – you can leave more of the seeds and membrane in – but if you remove – you can really reduce the heat of a completed dish. 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!   See : Stuffed Cajun Belle Recipe

Happy Gardening – Mary and Jim

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