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This Year's Pepper Crop

Well, winter's dragging on, and since I've started my seeds, I thought I'd post about my plans this year, partially to highlight some of my favorite peppers, and partially to hear your thoughts on the ones I've never grown before. (Or ones I HAVE grown before, for that matter.) So, here's what I've got going for planting in late April/early May:
Aji Limon--I planted this little Peruvian wonder for the first time last year, and it's quickly become my favorite hot pepper. Seriously, I don't know why Wal-Mart and Lowe's isn't stocking up on these. They're great for EVERYTHING. They're hot, but they've got this lovely citrus twang underneath. They're excellent in salsa, Asian cuisine, chili powder, and some Italian sauces, but they REALLY shine in jellies, since they pair so well with so many fruits. I've got some jars of apricot-aji on my shelf from last year that are just phenomenal. I order most of my seeds, including these, from the Chile Pepper Institute, and they really haven't let me down. I'd love to hear what other people think of this one.
Habanero--Another seed packet from the CPI. Confession: I don't actually love habs, and almost quit growing them a couple of years ago. Then I made some habanero-peach jelly, which turned out to be the best pork glaze I've ever found. So, I plant one hab every year, just for that jelly.
Banana--This is one of the seeds I didn't get from the CPI. In fact, it was an impulse buy at a random nursery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin four years ago. It was supposed to be a sweet banana pepper, but turned out hot instead. I kept the seeds, and have grown it every year since. Great in salads and sauces, but I think I may have to grow one in isolation this year to get some new seeds.
Chiltepin--Another oddball CPI purchase that's paid off well. I grew these for the first time last year, and went a little overboard with three plants. Turns out, one chiltepin bush will basically produce enough peppers for a small army. I dried them, as the internet suggested, and bought a chiltepin grinder. Now, anytime I'm eating soup, I grind a couple of these little dudes up and sprinkle them on top for a lovely little kick. Not much fun to pick--they're TINY--but well worth the effort!
Carolina Reaper--I've avoided the ridonkulously hot peppers in the past, but I took a look at my grow list this year and realized there was nothing new, so I had to find something "for fun." Based on some of the hot sauce recipes I saw online, this seemed like as good a choice as any, so I ordered a packet from Puckerbutt. I still don't really know what I'm going to do with even one plant's worth of these things, but that's a decision for July. :)
Jalapeño--Of course. Funny story here, though. I tried for three or four years to get good results from a CPI packet of vaquero jalapeños, and they just never turned out well. They corked pretty well, but stayed sadly small, even with great size on other peppers around them. So, last year, when one of my three vaqueros died unexpectedly, I replaced it with a quickie Mucho Nacho jalapeño from Walmart. Turns out, sometimes the cheap box store plants work. My Mucho Nacho produced a ton of hot, gigantic peppers that grew until early November, while my sad little vaqueros had their fourth year of sadness. So this year, I'm just buying three Mucho Nachos. (They're GREAT for bacon-wrapped stuffed poppers!)
Cowhorn--Another big box plant that pays dividends. I tried this one for the first time two years ago, and I was blown away by the flavor and usefulness of this pepper. Heat level on par with a jalapeño, but a much smokier, richer flavor profile. I use this as a base for chili powder, and dice it up in pretty much any pasta sauce I make. If the aji limon is my current favorite, this little beastie gets the silver medal all day long. When people ask me about peppers to grow, I always recommend this one based on its flavor and versatility. (And, they're HUGE--I've had some grow to nearly a foot long!)
New Mexican--I planted my Heritage Big Jim seeds this year, just like I have for the last four years. However, this appears to be the year that they've given up the germination ghost. Sad face. But, the loss of my Big Jims meant that I get to order new New Mexican seeds from the CIP. (Yay!) After sorting through the options, I ordered two varieties--the NuMex Espanola Improved (for medium chile) and NuMex Sandia Select (for hot chile). I don't know much about either, but I'm excited to see how they end up. Oddly enough, even thought central Indiana is a far cry from Hatch, NM, I've gotten some pretty great flavor from my New Mexican cultivars in the past. Fingers crossed!
Spanish Piquillo--Another brand new pepper for me. My wife was watching me order the New Mexican seeds, and I told her I needed one more packet of something to reach the minimum purchase amount. She said she wanted something milder for sauces the kids will eat, so we settled on this one. I know pretty much nothing about it, but it seemed like a good choice for the final addition to this year's lineup!
Since I'm new to the forum, I'd love to hear thoughts on any of these. Or, just post what you're sprouting these days!
I loved the Bonnie Cowhorn i grew last year. Roasted till slightly charred in the oven brings out a interesting sweetness almost like a caramel flavor. Very nice heat level if you like to use a lot of pepper in your food....im a bit surprised its not more popular.
Love the Aji flavor. Its probably my favorite for production and flavor combined. Im adding Aji Cito to my lemon drops this year.
I still hope to get some Big Jims but ive got New Mex 64s coming for sure. I love Anaheims and Hatch chiles in hashbrowns. It blows away potatoes O'Brien
Im going with Early Jalapeno again and Mucho Nacho this year..
Orange habs got replaced with Scotch Bonnet Yellow MOA and Beni Highlands....The Beni sounds really interesting for a milder hab.
Their are many Habaneros, is it the heat you dont like of the flavor? I love Habaneros and after growing a bunch my faves are the Red and Pumpkin for their very fruity flavor out doing the rest for me. The jalapeños I also didnt not get good results and moved on to El Jefe variety, much more reliable.
Looking forward to your results :)
dragonsfire said:
Their are many Habaneros, is it the heat you dont like of the flavor? I love Habaneros and after growing a bunch my faves are the Red and Pumpkin for their very fruity flavor out doing the rest for me. The jalapeños I also didnt not get good results and moved on to El Jefe variety, much more reliable.
Looking forward to your results :)
Generally, I've never liked the nuttier flavor of the hab by itself, though I've also never grown other varieties. (I thought I had a Caribbean Red one year, but it ended up growing into an ordinary orange hab.) So, maybe I just need to branch out. But man, that nutty flavor in the jelly is phenomenal. I never cook pork chops without it!