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Went out back for a few minutes - picked about twenty hot peppers (jalapeno, Thai Hybrids) and three ripe yellow habanero. A great year for peppers - tomatoes, however, just don't seem to ripen. I've heard that from others, too. Oddly, though, I've so many ripe habaneros that shouldn't have started ripening until about now (vs. a month ago).
I am now the happy owner (via weekend preparation) of a pint (440ml) of habanero sauce consisting of about fifty of them (red and yellow) ground into paste with vinegar. Opening the jar fills the area with a combination of delightful fruity aroma and choking fumes. Early cooking experiments with this batch show the effort (seed's started indoors in late February) to be well worth it. I've likely mentioned this before, but used with care it's just a "better" hot.
If anyone wants to ask - no I haven't tried any of the new ultra hots, such as scorpion pepper and seven-pot peppers. I've heard they're difficult to grow (longer season than I have) and I haven't figured out exactly what I'd do with them - especially if I have a pile of them. Ten times hotter than insanely hot - well, perhaps to discourage dogs as to where is a good place to sniff-and-go ?
You're quite right about the reaper (I just went looking for that info):
Carolina Reaper plants take roughly 90 days to get to the point of sexual maturity, which is when they will be ready to produce fruit. Plant size: When planted in the ground or a suitably large container, Carolina Reaper plants grow to be approximately 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide.
A similar search (and the seed package) puts my Habenaros at 100-110 days. That's why it's weird to have them ripening. I grew the 90-day variety a couple of years ago and late August was the start.
Slow germination doesn't bother me - I grow cactus from seeds. Probably start indoors in January - if I knew what I'd do with them one I had them. On the other hand - you planted the it's-doable seed in my head (pun intended).
I reread the blurb - that 90 days is "ready to produce fruit" - implying they still have to set fruit, grow and ripen. That may just put them out of reach.
The other thing to consider if you have space indoors is to overwinter your peppers, which also means a larger yield in subsequent years.
I had multiple black walnut trees in the yard so had to plant all my peppers in pots and did this. Usually picked the biggest/healthiest looking plant of each variety and moved them indoors at the end of the season.
Practical Advice - I have to quite-tall maples shading much of the yard. The garden's a mix of in-ground (ca 10x10 feet) and a lot of very large pots (which are better known as 5-gallon buckets). They are too bulky, however, to bring indoors (let alone any wildlife they may contain) and, unfortunately for me, I have only one small south-facing window.
My best option would seem to be an extra-early start (when they're small and in pots under lamps) to give them a good head start - but the earliest safe day to put them outdoors is usually Mother's Day. That would just get them to start fruiting around mid-August. Doable if they'll ripen withing the month and autumn doesn't arrive early. It all depends, it seems, on how long the flower-grow-ripen period is (and less than full sun).
OK - let's assume I managed this. Aside from being very hot and the job-satisfaction, did they have any qualities that made the whole thing worth it?
That is what I did as well, had to move one at a time and getting the four selected pots up or down the basement steps to the grow tent was a pain in the back.
I love spicy food, so for me the Reapers had the extra hot I was looking for in a number of applications. Dehydrated and ground into a powder for seasoning/cooking, added to salsas, inserted into batches of bread and butter pickles for extra kick on a burger or sandwich, and so on. Otherwise they have a similar fruity flavor to the habanero.
If you have limited space and time, I'd opt for other varieties for different flavor profiles instead. Shishitos are very good charred, pablanos are thicker so good for stuffing, cayenne, hungarian wax, and the list goes on. Every new pepper added to your seasoning mix brings with it something unique. My initial pepper selection revolved heavily around what I use when making chili and grew from there.
Edit: Saw your other post about growing zones and I'm in 5a. I think I got around it by starting from seed as soon as possible so had a larger plant when I finally moved them outside. It involved a lot of fans running on timers to get stronger stems along with heated grow lights, and moving them in/out on a daily basis when it was warm enough during the day but not at night, https://hort.extension.wisc.edu/files/2014/10/Cold-hardiness-map-high-resolution.jpg[^]
I've grown chili for quite a few years. Some in your list overlap: pablano, Hungarian Wax, cayenne
Some others of memory: tabasco, Salsa, jalapeno, Serrano
Of the items, I had lots of pablano last year - easily too much as they were very abundant. Too mild for most use (my son's family, however are training in hot food and they're prefect for that). The Garden Salsa Hybrid[^], a longer green pepper but as wide as a jalapeno at the top are about 3000 or so Scoville and are very tasty - but I haven't grown it for several years. My single favorite of normal peppers is Serrano: very abundant and, being solid, easy to slice any which way. For the hungarian wax - nice and early as yellow. I've one about 18months old in a tiny pot at my office. Still producing. Since I pollinate the peppers myself, via my thumbnail, they'll breed true. I'm going to ripen them for seeds so I can garden-them next year.
Three types, at present - plenty of variety. The Thai Hybrid seem thin-walled enough for easy drying and may go that way.
A few words of warning about drying/dehydrating, learned through painful experience. Of course there is the usual stuff like pieces dry faster than whole.
The important part is if you are using your oven to dehydrate them, just don't. Even if it vents outside, enough of the fumes will stay inside and turn your kitchen into a chemical warfare zone. The next morning was still bad enough to cause a lot of breathing problems. Same thing with a dehydrator, stick it outside while it is running.
Kind of surprising about having to pollinate them yourself, for some reason I thought peppers were self pollinating. That's because I never did any pollination while I overwintered and they still produced. There was a fan running for a good portion of the day so that might have been a cause as well.
Thanks - fortunately air-drying was the plan. Realizing it was unpleasant, it still can help but bring on a bit of a laugh. Luckily it was unlikely to be running out into the snow. I observed the Thai Hybrids starting to wrinkle and dry, even whole, within a few days of picking so cut open, covered with a permeable top, and dry air should do cut peppers nicely - their non-hybrid predecessors are commonly sold and used for Asian cooking, which I take as a hint.
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Have you ever made pepper oil? For any reader who hasn't, it's really great stuff and extremely eas to make. Just fill a jar half full (or more) with dried pepper - even low-quality pizza pepper. To this, add light cooking oil (i.e., low viscosity) and just let it sit. I usually wait a week or so, "stirring" by upending the jar a bunch of times every few days. Then, strain to get the now-red cooking oil that has extracted the capsicum from the peppers. You can cook with it, drizzle it on salads - sadists can rub it into their skin (actually used to relieve joint pain).
What not to do: use fresh peppers, unless well equipped with lab-ware. Grinding the fresh peppers and doing executing process resulted in a water layer. Separation, which would have been trivial in a lab with a separatorory funnel turned into a tedious decanting job do to the ground peppers. Filtering, unlike with the oil-dry-pepper version, just didn't work as the filter grabbed what water it could and rapidly became impermeable to the oil layer. I eventually solved it but the extra effort made it a dry-pepper only even thereafter. Not worth perfecting the techniques when such an easy option is available.
I haven't made pepper oil myself, but there is a guy at the local farmers market who is a serious pepper head. Sells pepper oil and pepper vinegar plus all sorts of fresh, dried, and even young plants you can take home and continue on your own.
W∴ Balboos wrote:
sadists can rub it into their skin (actually used to relieve joint pain).
Speaking of funny stories, I've got reasonably oily skin and capsicum is fat soluble. I thought I was smart and wore two pairs of gloves while cutting and deseeding several pounds each of reapers, habaneros, serranos, and other less painful types. Well turns out those gloves are slightly permeable and that much capsicum feels like the sun was teleported into your bones for a few days and nothing will help the pain.
This is funny, at least in hind-sight. Maybe when it happened, too.
Years ago, my first-time real crop of habanero and I was chopping them (bare-handed, knowing the consequences). Well - when through, I washed my hands twice, directly with dish-washing liquid. Still, not long after, whilst eating a slice of pizza, as I ate down toward the holding end it got got hotter and hotter until quite serious. Clearly, although the heat long since subsided my fingers was still quite full the oil.
Then, shortly after the pizza, I went to the bathroom, and without thinking, well . . . a few seconds after I started I realized I was holding with . . . well . . . now it was just a matter of time.
Damn - essentially I left 'finger prints" - and a lot of very fidgety discomfort.