I bought these seeds from the greatest seed seller around, J. L. Hudson from California. He has kept me in seeds for years, and this one sounded primo. It really is.
The black fruit, which ultimately will turn red, contrasts with the purple leaves. The blooms are also purple. It is a type of pequin pepper, a variety that originated in the pepper famous state of Tabasco in Mexico. Though the peppers are upright like a Tabasco pepper, this is actually listed as a different species.
The question: Should it have round or Tabasco shaped peppers? Most photos on the inerwebs show plants with Tabasco shaped peppers. However, they are all black, and quite hot, even up to the level of a Cayenne pepper on the Scoville scale. In short, they are hot to quite hot.
My father, who was a notorious seed thief (he called it “collecting”), would have walked away with at least one pocket full of these. He even stole all the lily seeds from a college that was attended by my three oldest sisters–only the college happened to be housed in a convent called Sacred Heart. I know that because I was there when it happened.
Like every addict, you have to eventually confess about your addiction. That plate tells you that I am addicted to pepper flakes.
This year I am drying my own, with a nice mixture of kinds hot and really hot. Really hot include Cayenne, Tabasco, and Royal Black. Serrano is hot, but not like the first three. The mildest is the old standard Cowhorn pepper. These are all local.
After they are dried, they take a couple of trips through the old Enterprise #602 grinder.
What does MJ do but dive into a scrap pile cabinet of hers, and comes out with a pepper flake shaker–THAT HAS PEPPERS ON IT. Nothing to do this weekend but fire up the brick oven.
Everyone who has used the Southern classic Tabasco Sauce knows that it is dark red. Imagine my surprise when I went to our local vegetable plant seller in the spring, and found that he was selling orange Tabasco pepper plants. I can never resist growing strange new crops–I also have a row of red broom corn, which is actually a plant from the sorghum family.
This was the result.
That little reddish orange pepper is the first ripe Tabasco. It’s probably as hot as that whole Serrano that is right below it. I don’t know how this will work, but my goal is to dry all these, and make multi-colored pepper flakes with them. Then I can make some psychedelic sausages.
Uncle Samuel decided to remit us some of the tens of thousands of dollars that we have unwillingly sent him over the years. It truly is a paltry sum, but I have decided to invest some of it in pepper futures. It’s a better use than sending money to defense contractors, or bailing out giant banks.
The amount I chose to invest was a total of $8.05. That gets me seventy five pepper seeds, more or less. My rate of return is likely to be enormous, as a small bag of fresh peppers at the Festhalle usually goes for around three bucks. At any rate, these are the three heirlooms I bought.
Another of the official peppers of the Basque region of Spain. Mildly hot, it has only been around since 1523. Strangely enough, that was the year when I was born.
Sigaretta De Bergamo
Let’s go to the Lombardi region of Italia, virus or no virus. A long sweet pepper, which surprisingly is the diameter of a cigarette. Try and find these at your local market.
Time to go to Nippon! That would be Japan. Another slim sweet pepper, and I can’t wait to try this one.
Moral of this story: grow your own, grow your own.
I am now at sixteen different peppers. Life is good. Thank you to the Federales for floating me eight bucks for pepper seeds. I threw in the nickel.
This is from so far south, it’s from across the border. It is, however also a staple of most Tex-Mex style Mexican restaraunts. Fortunately, it is also dead simple to make.
Can of Tomato Sauce
2 or more Chipotle Peppers, and Adobo Sauce
If you have cast iron intestines, you can go the Rick Bayless route, and make this with nothing but Chipotle peppers. As I prefer living, I go the tomato sauce way.
Start by making a little blond roux with the oil and flour. I used a regular size can of sauce, or you can mill some canned tomatoes, as it results in the same texture. After it begins to boil, throw in Chipotles that have been seeded. How many is strictly a matter of preference. The same goes with the amount of Adobo sauce you add. It only cooks until it is warmed through.
We made roast pork enchiladas with Vidalia onions rolled up in a tortilla, covered with this sauce, and grated Cheddar cheese. It’s a quick and easy meal, which only needs to be baked until the sauce bubbles. After that it’s time to swine away.
My Nicaraguan pepper seeds turned out to be sold out, so I compensated by ordering two more heirlooms on Fleabay. These are both from Europa. Now I will have a lucky thirteen pepper varieties.
Szegedi 179 Hungarian Paprika–From the city where Paprika originated. Said to be moderately hot, I got this from the same great grower in Georgia that I have been dealing with.
Antohi Romanian Sweet Peppers–a palm sized pepper, that looks phenomenal. It’s like a giant pimento. I had to order some mini pumpkin seeds from this seller in Arizona as well. MJ loves her some mini pumpkins.
We are finally having pepper weather, with temps in the eighties. We should have more than a hundred plants, if I can keep my stupid Aussie Shepherds out of my pots. Fortunately, the hot weather slows the furry jackals down.
I probably need professional help on the pepper growing front. After bragging about the eight varieties I have, MJ noted that we haven’t had our favorite, pimentos, in a couple of years, and that I had neglected to plant any seeds. That lead me to the evil Fleabay to buy some.
I found some great sounding pimento seeds from a grower in Cleveland, TN, a town we have driven through a few hundred times, on the way to going fly fishing for trout. Then I made the mistake of staying on there, and found a real specialist in heirloom peppers from Toccoa, GA. Naturally, he had a package deal on three packs of seed, so I was compelled to buy them.
I bought one variety that originated in each of the following three countries–Hungary, Spain, and Nicaragua. That brings me up to an even dozen different peppers.
Pimento–probably the best sweet pepper. We have grown these for years, and like the soprano Maria Callas, they always put out their best effort. The rest are all new to me.
Alba Regia–another sweet pepper, this a Hungarian. In the picture, it looks more blocky than a pimento. My friend George had parents from the Hungarian capitol, and he was impressed when I asked him if they were from Buda, or Pest. He had never met anyone who knew they were on different sides of the Danube.
Piquillo de Lodosa–from the Basque region of Spain, and it is one of their official varieties. Said to be very sweet and mildly hot.
Criolla de Cocina–Sandinista! was one of my favorite albums by The Clash. This pepper looks like a giant habanero, but is described as having a flavor practically without any heat. Came from a Nicaraguan farmer in 1988.
There are my twelve peppers, and I managed to get my two favorite genres of music, opera and punk rock, into this post. Kind of like peppers themselves.
One of my favorite movies is Major League, the goofy baseball movie about the Cleveland racist name/racist logo franchise. My favorite character is Pedro Cerrano, a power hitting Cuban player who worships a voodoo god named Jobu. At the end of the movie, Pedro famously says fornicate you to Jobu, after he thinks his bats are not being protected by the voodoo god anymore, and made into magic bats.
In his honor, and because I can’t stop buying plants, I added a Serrano pepper to my veg list, bringing my pepper total up to eight varieties, with about sixty plants. I also bought my wife a Jobu’s Rum T-shirt as an anniversary present. Jobu loved his rum. “Is not good to steal Jobu’s rum.”
Serrano-Most are three times hotter than a jalapeno., though some can be even hotter than that
Tabasco-The dwarf yellow variety, which is a new one for me
Sweet Banana–We freeze these by the dozen, if they survive our devouring them fresh
Cayenne–No Southern kitchen is complete without a bottle of Cayenne pepper sauce
Poblano–The best mildly hot pepper. Dried when ripe, it makes Ancho powder
Royal Black–A new one, said to be really hot. It goes in the pepper sauce. Some of our seedlings have purple leaves
Early Jalapeno–Early is good
Jalapeno M–A mild Jalapeno. Why did I buy these? They must have been cheap
No regular bell peppers here, but who wants to be a regular pepper grower anyway. I probably will want to stock up on antacids.
It’s been almost a hundreds years since scientists discovered that ethylene gas could artificially ripen fruit. That’s the reason why most supermarket tomatoes taste like yuk. They’re green tomatoes, turned fake red, and sold as “vine ripened.” There are very limited penalties for lying, especially in the food industry.
That’s why I am officially declaring war on Big Tomato. ( I have previously declared war on Big Chicken.) In the spirit of ’76, I now have 76 tomato plants, with more seedlings probably coming. I have fifteen varieties, which I will list below.
Plants in the ground–We found a great seller only about four miles away. These are all new varieties to us.
Bella Rosa–A hybrid that already has a tomato on it, and is blooming like crazy
Atkinson–Developed at Aw-burn U, the bitter rival of my Crimson Tide
Roma III–Had to buy three of these hybrid Romas, because it is Roma III
Juliet–“It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon.” A mini San Marzano! I was going to buy a couple more of these,but I actually bought three more
Roma-the heirloom variety, not the hybrid. Bought at the Festhalle, as were the rest of these. We’ve grown this before, and all of the below
Wild Cherry-the real wild mater.
Brandywine-the classic heirloom, with great tasting maters
Cherokee Purple-Perhaps the classic heirloom Southern variety
Seeds in the ground–Some are our saved seeds, including a couple of chance hybrids. We have grown all of these before also. All these have now germinated
Purple Calabash–The cabernet wine of tomatoes. Ugly and exquisite
Rio Grande–Why an Italian tomato is named Rio Grande, I have no clue
Creole–From LSU, and this is one Ragin’ Cajun, for hot weather. LSU has the craziest fans in college football. They came to T-town one year, their team beat the hide off the Tide, and then one sorority stole most of the furniture out of their sorority sisters’ house on sorority row, and carried it all back to Louisiana. They eventually returned it.
Black Truffle–We love dark colored tomatoes
Amish Paste–Same with the paste tomatoes
Red Cherry–Saved seed, probably Matt’s Wild Cherry, which grows wild in Texas and Mexico.
Hard Round Red Tomato-More than likely a chance hybrid, this plant has some seriously tasty tomatoes
I only have forty something pepper seedlings, so I have a truce with Big Pepper. I do have three more pots of seeds that have yet to germinate. The cease fire could be temporary, and I do eat a bottle of hot jalapenos every month. Everyone has a weakness.
There is a humorous German term for all the panic buying that has been going on: Hamsterkauf. The literal translation is “Hamster buying,” but the implication is that people are shopping like they are Hamsters.
Having said that, I may require an intervention on the vegetable plant buying front. I’m closing in on seventy tomato plants, and what do I do but buy two more varieties, bringing my total number up to a lucky thirteen. Truthfully, I grew most of the plants myself, but nothing can stop me when it comes to buying heirloom plants.
Yesterday we went to the re-opened Festhalle Farmer’s Market, and on the far end was a woman selling heirloom vegetable plants. That was especially significant considering that it was 43 degrees F, and the north wind was about ten miles an hour, and this is an open air market. Her plants looked very good, so I added two of the all time greats to my tomato roster.
The one at the top is a Roma tomato, which is the classic paste tomato. I have three hybrid Romas already, but usually the taste of the hybrids can’t match that of the original.
My second tomato is the famed Southern variety Cherokee Purple, which came from a seed saver in Tennessee, and was said to have been cultivated by the Cherokee tribe of native Americans. I try and grow at least one of these every year, as the flavor is phenomenal.
This last one is a plant I have not seen before, which I bought at my favorite plant seller’s store on the way home. It’s a fiery hot Tabasco that ripens to yellow fruit instead of red. The Tabasco sauce people once made a yellow sauce, but I think it is no longer available. I will have to make my own fermented sauce with these.
I put Blood Meal in with all these plants. Nothing like pure nitrogen to get them going. Now we need some temps back in the 70’s and 80’s again. When that happens, naturally I will complain that it’s too hot.