I like growing chilli peppers. They are really easy, and plentiful. They take up little space and grow as happily inside as they do out. All they want from life is sun, warmth, and the odd water. Consequently, I grow a lot of chillies.
At the moment I have about 40 different plants, and about 7 different varieties.
A lot of people can be guilty of thinking that a chilli is a chilli, and ultimately the difference is all about heat. Sure, the plants I am cultivating will produce chilli peppers that place at different points on the Scoville Scale, but its really not about that.
If you want a great guide to chillies and the Scoville Scale, then head over to the Wikipedia article. But if you want a new way of looking at things read on.
The Fruity Chillies
All chillies are by their definition fruity. They are, after all, the fruit of the chilli plant. But if you want to taste that fruitiness, that citrus buzz, then there are plants you can cultivate to get it.
Aji Limon/Aji Orange – these varieties are from Peru, and both have a warm heat with a citrus aftertaste to them. They are great with fish, or in sweet sauces, and both produce an abundance of fruit on a relatively sprawling plant.
Orange Habenaro – habs are particularly fruity. Teamed with mango or tomato to bring out their refreshing flavour, you can happily add them to anything (or at least I do!). But in particular, the Orange Habaneros have a clear citrus line to them, and are great if you want to spice up your cooking.
The Hot Ones
A lot of the chillies that are bred to break the Scoville Scale, aren’t actually done with mouth burning consequences in mind. In fact, its largely down to industrial production. If you have a recipe that calls for chilli, well, one super hot bhut jolokia will be cheaper that five hundred lesser chillies. Its all about the maths and the money. That’s not to say there aren’t chillies that are hot for the sake of being hot; there are. And these are…
Bhut Jolokia – former hottest chilli in the world, and also known as the bih jolokia, u-morok, ghost pepper, red naga, Naga Jolokia, and ghost chilli. Its hot, and hard to cultivate without specialist equipment to provide adequate heat and light. But if you do manage to cultivate it, you will get a chilli that is, in my opinion, so hot you don’t taste the flavour (you’re just too busy trying to locate yogurt/ice/water/anything to stop that burn).
The Caroline Reaper – this has been the hottest chilli in the world since 2013, but the way things are going its not likely to hold this crown much longer. It’s a face-melting 1,569,300 SHU, but some varieties have apparently exceeded the 2million mark.
There are some chilli peppers that are great for everything, and some chilli pepper plants which will just keep giving and giving all through the season. These are my all-rounders; great for drying, great for cooking, and great for sauces.
Superchilli – I’ve grown the Superchilli variety for years now, and they are a good workhorse. Short and compact plants, which is great for the balcony or indoor growing, produce up to 100 fruits a plant. The fruits are short, medium hot, and flavourful. And best of all, I’ve never had a problem saving the seeds from them, and they overwinter well.
Serrano – the plants originate from Mexico, or more specifically Wahaca, as I’ve always got my seeds free from the restaurant. They are sprawling plants, which if you are growing outside are happy to grow up a trellis or canes, and they produce around 40 fruits on each plant. They are eaten raw, in salsas and sauces, or they are pretty good for pickling too. Again, if you keep them small, they are happy to over winter too.
Twilight – this plant is a shrublike plant, and similar to the Superchilli. It produces smaller fruits, however, and these range from greens, to reds, to purples. Best for pickling or adding to sauce, these will keep you going through the cold winter, or will happily grow on as late as November, thriving in the winter sun from a warm balcony.
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So this is how I categorise my plants, and also its a sample of what I’ve got growing this year. Some of the varieties are new to me and I’ve not mentioned them here, so I’ll have to refine and adapt this list later in the season. But for now, why not let me know what you’ve got growing, and what you plan to do with all those chillies.