I have been trying to grow various hot chile peppers the last few years at my house in Phoenix with almost no luck. I have harvested a number of Big Jim Nu-Mex peppers but recently they are very small, way too small to roast, which is why I started growing them. Reading that chile peppers like hot and dry weather assumes they are not being grown in Phoenix, where hot and dry take on absurd levels in the summer. This year I started some seeds in Phoenix inside then planted them in the garden in Prescott. Prescott is usually about 18 degrees cooler and gets twice the rain. The chiles are much happier up there and are showing that happiness by growing lots of peppers.
This year I am growing a variety of hot peppers from mild to hot. I have Happy’s Habaneros, named after a friend in the Bay area, a spicy little girl. I have not used these chiles yet as they need to ripen a little more. When they do ripen I will have to figure out what to do with a dozen or so habaneros. I love the fruity flavor, but they do pack a punch. I finally have enough tomatillos to make a batch of salsa verde this coming weekend but I have already been told the habanero peppers are not allowed. I will have to use a mix of the Serrano and jalapeno peppers.
Not to be outdone by his big sister, I also have some Feelin’ It Felix’s Serrano peppers. Although only one plant seems to have survived my spring transplanting problems, it is starting to produce a lot of chiles. I used a couple of them over the weekend in a batch of Texas Chili. They have a great fruity and spicy taste.
For those that do not like a lot of heat in their chiles I also have a couple of jalapeno pepper plants. These came from my aunt and uncle at Cielo Azul Farm as seedlings. Along with seedlings and various plants, they make a great Chipotle powder and grow the best tasting Ambrosia cantaloupes (there really is a difference) as well as load me up with great info for the garden. I used a couple of these over the weekend and they have a mild and less bitter taste than I typically think of jalapenos being. I have heard that if hot peppers are somewhat starved for water for a couple of days before harvest they get hotter; I may have to try that to see what happens.
I showed how we like to roast milder and meatier peppers and stuff them in my Chili Meditation post. This year we have a few varieties for that purpose in the garden. We are growing poblano peppers and Nu-Mex chiles. The poblano peppers are really starting to develop and I can’t wait to roast a few up one night. The Nu-Mex are starting to come along and the one in the photo might end up in the salsa verde next weekend.
A friend gave me a seed for a Ghost Pepper over the winter. After the seedling got started I planted it by my house. I think the only thing hotter than the pepper was our summer, and the pepper has not been happy. It is struggling to grow, but it is growing and I hope it becomes happier as our temperatures finally start to cool. Then my problem will be, what do I do with a Ghost Pepper or two (or more)? I have told a friend I will give him one for his son (hopefully just to look at). My nephew Jake wants to video me or his grandfather eating one so he can relive our pain and anguish over and over to his gleeful delight. That is one use I know is not on my list of potential uses. Sorry Jake. I will post a photo if I actually get a pepper this winter. If so, I will not make the same mistake I made over the weekend when I cut the jalapeno and Serrano peppers without gloves. Even after washing my hands a few times, it still stung when I adjusted a contact. I can’t imagine how bad that would have felt with a Ghost Pepper instead.
Eat Well and support local agriculture, America’s neglected and abandoned socio-economic base.