Enjoy Varieties of Peppers by Reward Me

The devil is in the detail

Chilli lovers can experiment with something different thanks to an expanded range of chillies that are now available.


There is always a whiff of danger around chillies. They are hot, they burn and they are tempting, with a glossy, red brilliance that says ‘eat me’!

Hot peppers

  • Aji Lemon is a low-growing Peruvian chilli with a strong citrus flavour. It dries well.
  • Bilia Shipka is a Bulgarian chilli used in eastern European cooking and for drying.
  • Bulgarian Carrot has brilliant orange fruit with a very fruity, yet pungent, flavour. It is used in marinades and salsa.
  • Chocolate Habanero has a very intense flavour. It is a long-season pepper that needs heat to germinate.
  • Ethiopian Brown is a rare chilli from the Ethiopian highlands. It grows 1 m high, has long (10-15 cm) flavourful fruits that mature from dark green to rich brown.
  • Facing Heaven is an ancient Chinese variety with a distinctive flavour and is very hot.
  • Iranian Cherry is a prolific producer. The fruit is 2-2.5 cm in diameter and hot.
  • NuMex Big Jim is the world’s largest chilli. It is good for stuffing and tastes hotter than it looks.
  • Mayan Love Pepper is from South and Central America and was used as an aphrodisiac. It can be eaten green or ripe.
  • Tatashe is a Nigerian chilli that dries well and makes a fine ground pepper for spicing a meal.

Mild Peppers

  • Peruvian White Habanero has the fruitiness of Habanero but not the heat.
  • Brown Poblano is a good roasting chilli. Like Russian roulette, the heat varies from pepper to pepper.
  • Shubo from Kano is a Nigerian chilli that dries well. The rounded flavour is not overpowering. Remove the seeds for a milder taste.
  • Monkey Face is a medium-hot pepper that is delicious stuffed with feta cheese or added to chicken dishes.
Chilli Chilli Aji Lemon Billa Shipka
Chilli Chilli Bulgarian Carrot Chocolate Habanero
Chilli Chilli Ethiopian Brown Iranian Cherry

Growing chillies from seed

Sowing
Start in seed trays using germinating mix, not seedling mix, which is too open. The right germinating temperature is important. In general, the hotter the chilli the higher the germinating temperature (very hot chillies 32°C and hot chillies 20°C). Use a heating pad under the seed tray. A snake tank heating pad is ideal. Place the pad plastic side up and put the seed tray on two bricks, or a wire rack, so that it is about 10 cm above the heat pad. Keep the soil moist, but not wet, during germination. Should the soil dry out, even for an hour, germination will fail. A watering can with a fine nozzle is recommended. Germination takes 2-4 weeks, with the hotter varieties taking longer.

Seedlings
Keep the seedlings in the tray until the first 2-4 true leaves develop. Drench once a week with a liquid fertiliser. To produce sturdy seedlings, brush your hand over the seedlings once a day.

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Transplanting
Transplant the seedlings into moist garden soil that has been enriched with compost. Chillies like morning sun and afternoon shade or vice versa. Water continuously after transplanting and sprinkle half a teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt (available from supermarkets) around each plant a week after transplanting. Pink salt contains 81 trace elements.

Growing on
Water the seedlings regularly and mulch the soil to retain moisture. Don’t water at night because this could encourage mildew. Treat mildew with a mixture of bicarbonate of soda, pink salt and water sprayed onto the leaves. Check that drainage is adequate.

Harvesting
The heat increases as the chilli ripens. For less heat pick them green or as the colour is changing. Regular picking encourages the plant to continue flowering.

Seed saving
Seed saved from one plant should supply enough seed for the next 3-4 years. Allow the fruit to ripen completely. Split it open and scrape the seeds onto a plate. Allow the seeds to dry and store them in a paper packet that is labelled and dated. Store the packet in a drawer or dark, cool place.

Preserving chillies

  • Slice the chillies into rings and put them into a sterilised jar with whole coriander seeds, 75% brown grape vinegar and 25% water.
  • To dry, use the cork from a wine bottle as the stopper, thread gut through the chillies and hang them up in an airy place.

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