- Hot Pepper Plants: Tips On Growing Peppers For Hot Sauce
- Types of Hot Peppers for Making Sauce
- Hot Peppers for Sauce
- 10 of the best peppers to grow
- Growing hot peppers in gardens and containers
- Growing hot peppers
- Growing hot peppers from seed
- Planting peppers in the garden or containers
- Caring for hot peppers
- Pests and diseases
- Picking peppers
- Hot peppers to grow in gardens and containers
- Mildly hot peppers:
- Medium hot peppers:
- Very hot peppers:
- Super hot peppers:
- 7. Matouk’s Calypso Sauce
- 8. The Pepper Plant California-Style Hot Sauce
- 9. Marie Sharp’s Habanero Pepper Sauce
- 10. D.L. Jardine’s Blazin’ Saddle XXX Hot Sauce
- 11. Yucatan Sunshine Sauce
- 12. Secret Aardvark Habanero Hot Sauce
- 13. El Yucateco Green Chile Habanero Sauce
- 14. Weak Knees Gochujang Sriracha
- What Type of Peppers Should I Use for My Hot Sauce?
- What types of peppers are common in hot sauce?
- Where are most chili peppers harvested?
- What do I look for in a good chili pepper?
- How do I store peppers properly?
- Working safely with peppers
- The Science Of Chiles, Peppers, And Hot Sauces
- About Chili Powder
- Bell Peppers and pimento
- Buying and storing peppers
- About paprika
- How hot is that chile?
- How hot is it?
- Putting out the fire
- Making your own pepper flakes and powders
- Black Pearl Peppers!
- The favorite hot sauces of a wimp
- More on chiles
- Organic Homemade Hot Sauce Recipes
- Make Your Own Hot Pepper Sauces
- Even More Hot Sauce Recipes
- Find Your Best Pepper
- Anaheim Hot Pepper
- Big Bertha Bell Pepper
- Blonde Belle Pepper
- Bonnie Green Bell Pepper
- Bunker Green Bell Pepper
- Cajun Belle Pepper
- Candy Cane Pepper
- Carmen Italian Sweet Pepper
- Carolina Reaper Pepper
- Chile de Arbol Hot Pepper
- Chili Red Hot Pepper
- Coolapeño Heatless Jalapeño Pepper
- Cowhorn Hot Pepper
- Cubanelle Pepper
- Dragon Cayenne Pepper
- Early Flame Jalapeno Pepper
- Flaming Flare Fresno Chili Pepper
- Fresh Bites Orange Pepper
- Garden Salsa Hot Pepper
- Giant Marconi Pepper
- Golden Cayenne Pepper
- Gypsy Pepper
- Habanero Hot Pepper
- Havasu Hot Pepper
- Hot Banana Pepper
- Hot Burrito Pepper
- Hot Cayenne Pepper
- Jalafuego Hot Pepper
- Jalapeno Hot Pepper
- Lunchbox Orange Sweet Snacking Pepper
- Lunchbox Red Sweet Snacking Pepper
- Mad Hatter Pepper
- Mammoth Jalapeño Hot Pepper
- Mexibelle Pepper
- Mild Jalapeño Pepper
- Mucho Nacho Jalapeño Hot Pepper
- New Mexico 6-4L Pepper
- Orange Bell Pepper
- Pequin Chili Pepper
- Pimiento Pepper
- Poblano-Ancho Hot Pepper
- Purple Bell Sweet Pepper
- Purple Flash Pepper
- Red Bell Pepper
- Red Ghost Pepper
- Red Hot Chili Pepper
- Roasted Red Pepper
- Sandia Hot Pepper
- Sangria Pepper
- Santa Fe Grande Hot Pepper
- Serrano Hot Pepper
- Shishito Sweet Pepper
- Snackabelle Red Pepper
- Spicy Slice Jalapeno Pepper
- Sweet Banana Pepper
- Sweet Heat Pepper
- Sweet Sunrise Yellow Bell Pepper
- Tabasco Hot Pepper
- Tepin Chili Pepper
- Thai Hot Ornamental Pepper
- Yellow Bell Pepper
- And now, here is some information on a huge variety of peppers that I am growing this year. If anyone is growing a different type, please let me know so that I can add new ones to my research and my garden in future years! 🙂
- 1) Sweet Bell Peppers
- 2) Mexi-bell hot peppers
- 3) Poblano hot peppers
- 4) Jalapeno hot peppers
- 5) Serrano hot peppers
- 6) Habanero hot peppers
- 7) Cayenne hot peppers (for drying)
- 8) Charleston hot peppers
- 9) Paprika pepper (for drying)
- Growing Peppers:
- Our Favorite Garden Peppers:
Hot Pepper Plants: Tips On Growing Peppers For Hot Sauce
If you’re a lover of all things spicy, I’m betting you have a collection of hot sauces. For those of us who like it four star hot or greater, hot sauce is often an essential ingredient in our culinary masterpieces. In recent years, a dizzying array of these tongue-blistering to tame delights are available to the consumer, but did you know that making your own is fairly simple and begins with growing your own peppers for hot sauce making? So what are the best peppers for making hot sauce? Read on to find out.
Types of Hot Peppers for Making Sauce
There are an almost unending number of hot pepper plants to choose from. Chili colors alone range from brilliant orange to brown, purple, red and even blue. The heat levels vary according to the Scoville heat index, a measure of the capsaicin in the pepper — from knock your socks off hot to a subtle tingling on the tip of your tongue.
With such variety it’s difficult to narrow down which chili pepper to plant. The good news is that they all can make amazing hot sauce. Keep in mind that peppers in the garden tend to cross-pollinate, so unless you plant only one type of hot pepper plant, it’s really a crap shoot as to how hot different varieties may become.
I like the element of surprise, however,
and utilizing different types of hot peppers for sauce making is really somewhat of an experiment. Start with a small batch first. Too hot? Try a different combination, or try roasting the peppers instead of using them fresh, which will impart a whole new flavor profile. Anyway, I digress, back to types of hot peppers for sauce making.
Hot Peppers for Sauce
Peppers are categorized partially by their heat level on the Scoville scale:
Mildly spiced peppers include:
- Paprika chili, which is usually dried and ground.
- Soroa chili, also dried and ground.
- Aji Panc, a very mild deep red to burgundy pepper.
- Santa Fe Grande, or yellow hot chili
- Anaheim, a mild and medium sized pepper used both green and red.
- Poblano is a very popular variety that is dark green, gradually ripening to dark red or brown and is often dried – called ancho chili.
- Hatch chili peppers are also in the mild Scoville scale and are long and curved, perfect for stuffing.
- Peppadew peppers are grown in the Limpopo province of South Africa and are actually the brand name of sweet piquant peppers.
- Espanola, Rocotillo and New Mex Joe E Parker peppers are also on the mild side.
Pasilla chili peppers are really interesting. They are dried chilaca peppers known as pasilla bajio or chile negro when fresh. Eight to ten inches long, this pepper’s heat index ranges from 250 all the way up to 3,999 Scovilles. So, these peppers range from mild to medium.
Getting a little bit warmer, here are a few medium choices:
- Cascabel chilies are small and deep red.
- New Mex Big Jim are a giant varietal and is a cross between a few different types of chilies and a Peruvian chili
- Still hotter are Jalapenos and Serrano peppers, which I have found can vary from very mild to slightly spicy.
Cranking the heat up, here are some medium hot peppers:
The following are considered hot chili peppers:
- Orange Habanero
- Scotch Bonnet
And now we shift it into nuclear. The superhots include:
- Red Savina Habanero
- Naga Jolokia (aka Ghost Pepper)
- Trinidad Moruga Scorpion
- Carolina Reaper, deemed one of the hottest peppers ever
The above list is by no means comprehensive and I’m sure you can find many other varieties. The point is, when growing peppers for hot sauce making, narrowing down your choices may be the challenge.
As for the best peppers to make hot sauce? Any one of the above combined with the three basic elements for the perfect hot sauce – the sweet, the acidic and the hot – is sure to create the perfect spiced elixir.
10 of the best peppers to grow
A biggish pepper, moving from green-tinged purple to orange. It ends up red and with the colour change comes massive heat. Even in the early stages, 8-9/10 heat
READ: How to grow punchy peppers in your garden
4 ‘Nepalese Bell’
A friar’s hat type, which is very late to ripen, so a real asset for fruiting late in the year. In September, you’ll get your first fruit, but it keeps going, often into November. This is hot, but with a more subdued heat, which lasts longer in the body. 7/10 heat
5 ‘Bulgarian Carrot’
A lovely orange variety, nice to use with meat dishes. It has a gentle flavour one step up from a sweet or frying (e.g. ‘Lombardon’) pepper, a bit more zingy. Eat this raw in a salad, it mixes brilliantly with tomatoes. 5/10 heat
This west African ‘Habanero’ type pepper is David Blake’s of Worton Organic Garden in Oxfordshire favourite among the hots: “It’s bloody hot, making you sweat to the hair roots,” he says. He would eat it raw to clean the tongue after a heavy, rich meal – but even he admits this one is fiendish. 9/10 heat
FRYING PEPPERS (NOT HOT)
7 ‘Jimmy Nardello’
Very handsome, similar to ‘Red Cayenne’, but a gentler flavour, very sweet with almost no heat. It’s hugely popular in America; prolific and easy to grow. 0/10 heat
A ‘Padrón’ type, from Genoa, delicious with seafood. David says one of his best meals of last year was a salad made with these. Leaves were mixed with chorizo, then a layer of chargrilled cuttlefish and ‘Lombardon’ peppers (stalks on) interlaced on top, with a balsamic vinegar dressing. 0/10 heat
The Japanese equivalent of the ‘Padrón’. With this variety the odd one is a bit hotter, but there is no intense heat and so ‘Shishito’ gets my vote. It is good raw – sliced on salad – but even better cooked (see recipe online). 1/10 heat
Originally from Galicia. Very prolific, it is delicious just blistered in a frying pan of olive oil and served with salt as an aperitif. As the season goes on, a few get hot, so eating ‘Padróns’ is famously like playing Russian roulette – you don’t know exactly what heat you’ll get. 1/10 heat
Worton Organic, nr Cassington, Oxon (07718 518964; wortonorganicgarden.com).
Sarah’s garden, Perch Hill, E. Sussex, is open today, 9.30am-4pm (sarahraven.com).
Growing hot peppers in gardens and containers
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Hot peppers are so much fun to grow in gardens and containers. They’re relatively carefree plants and offer fruits in a wide variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and heat levels – from mildly spicy to super-hot! I’ve been growing hot peppers for over a decade and I’ve learned that in order to grow great peppers, you need to provide the right growing conditions and select the best varieties for your region.
Hot peppers come in a wide assortment of fruit sizes, shapes, and colors. Don’t be shy about trying new-to-you types and varieties.
Growing hot peppers
Unlike sweet peppers, hot peppers can pack a pungent punch! Some are mildly spicy, others offer medium heat, and still others are super hot and need to be handled and eaten with care. The heat of a pepper is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU), which assesses the amount of heat-producing compounds found in the pepper. When a pepper has less than 100 SHU’s, it’s considered a sweet pepper. Once it tops 100, it becomes a hot pepper. But of course, there is quite a range of pungency found in hot peppers. A jalapeño, for example is between 1000 and 10,000 heat units, while a habanero can run up to 350,000 SHU’s – now that’s hot!
A super-hot pepper is one that has over 1 million SHU’s and includes types like ghost peppers and Carolina reapers. While these can be fun to grow in gardens and containers, I find them hard to use in the kitchen and prefer to grow peppers like jalapeño, cayennes, and anchos that I use more frequently.
You’ll find a very wide variety of hot peppers seeds available though seed catalogs as well as online websites.
Growing hot peppers from seed
Hot peppers, like tomatoes and eggplants, are a warm season vegetable and need to grow, flower, and fruit between the spring and autumn frost dates. Short-season or northern gardeners should pick varieties that will have time to mature in their region, although there are a few techniques detailed below you can use to stretch your season.
Hot pepper seeds should be started indoors to get a head start on the growing season. Sow seeds in flats or pots 8 to 10 weeks prior to the expected outdoor planting date. Sow them shallowly, around 1/4 inch deep. Hot peppers, and especially super-hot peppers, have a well-earned reputation for being finicky to germinate, but you can increase germination rates by providing bottom heat. I’ve used a heat mat, the top of a refrigerator, or heating cables. Because super-hot peppers can take longer to germinate, I start them around 12 weeks before my expected outdoor planting date.
You can also pre-germinate the seeds of hot peppers to further increase success. Place the seeds between sheets of dampened paper towel and then place that inside a plastic zipper bag. Tuck the bag in a warm place and begin checking for signs of germination daily after about a week. If seeds have germinated, remove them from the bag and plant them up in containers filled with a high-quality potting mix like Fox Farm Ocean Forest Potting Mix. Super-hot peppers can take weeks or even months to germinate, so be patient and check often to see if any of the seeds have roots emerging.
As the seedlings grow, provide sixteen hours of light each day by placing the flats under grow lights. A window typically doesn’t offer enough light to provide healthy, compact growth, but if you don’t have grow lights, you can certainly try to start your seeds in a bright, south-facing window. Average room temperature is fine for growing hot pepper seedlings. Peppers appreciate consistent moisture but don’t want to be sitting in wet soil. Water when the soil is dry to the touch and every 7 to 10 days add a diluted liquid organic fertilizer to your irrigation water to encourage healthy growth.
Once the last frost in spring has passed and temperatures are reliably above 65 F, it’s time to harden off the plants and move them to the garden.
This was my final hot pepper harvest last autumn as a frost was in the forecast. I picked a full bowl of jalapeño’s, cayenne’s, and Fish peppers. I dry some of my ripe hot peppers and turn them into flakes, but I also freeze them whole and use them all winter long.
Planting peppers in the garden or containers
Hot peppers can be planted in garden beds or in containers. If growing hot peppers in pots, be sure there are adequate drainage holes in the bottom of the container and use a high quality potting mix. I like to add compost or aged manure to the potting mix when I’m filling my pots.
In a garden, find a spot with fertile, well-draining soil. I’m partial to raised beds, but they can also be grown in traditional in-ground gardens. Just be sure the soil drains well. I incorporate compost, worm castings, or aged manure into the soil prior to planting and add a handful of slow-release organic vegetable fertilizer to the planting hole. A soil pH range of 6.0 to 6.8 is ideal.
Space the plants two to three feet apart and insert some type of support as pepper plants can be prone to branch breakage, especially when the branches are heavy with fruits. I insert a tomato cage or a stake to provide support to the plant. If you live in a short season region, a sheet of plastic mulch can also be placed on the soil to trap heat, reduce competition from weeds, encourage quick growth, and a heavy yield. Even if you choose not to use a plastic mulch, you can pre-heat your garden soil in late spring by placing a plastic mulch on top of the soil for 10-14 days before planting.
Because our spring weather on the east coast can be unsettled, I erect as simple mini hoop tunnel over the plants for the first few weeks. The hoops are covered with polyethylene sheeting or a row cover to trap heat and create a microclimate for the heat-loving pepper plants. If you don’t make your own mini tunnels, you can also buy them online or at garden centres.
These white bullet habanero peppers were planted in a container on my very sunny back deck. The one plant gave me over 50 peppers by early autumn and they were incredibly spicy!
Caring for hot peppers
As summer arrives, water consistently, but keep in mind that hot peppers generally prefer drier soil conditions. Water when the soil is dry an inch or two down and be sure to water the soil, not the pepper plant. Wet foliage can spread disease. Fertilize hot peppers several times during the growing season with an all-purpose liquid organic vegetable or tomato fertilizer to give them a boost. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizer which promotes foliage growth, but can reduce fruit production.
Pests and diseases
Common pests of hot peppers include aphids, flea beetles, slugs, and cutworms. I find cutworms and slugs are a problem in late spring when the plants are still young and very susceptible to damage. As they grow, aphids and flea beetles can be more of an issue. I handpick slugs, use collars to deter cutworms, and hose off aphids and flea beetles when spotted.
Peppers can be prone to diseases like Botrytis, bacterial leaf spot, Fusarium, and Anthracnose. Proper spacing and watering are important steps to reducing hot pepper diseases. Water the soil, not the foliage. If you’ve had issues in the past, it’s also a good idea to grow disease-resistant varieties and practice good crop rotation.
The branches of hot peppers, especially in late summer when they are heavy with fruits, are prone to breaking. Use cages or stakes to support the plants.
Harvest hot peppers once they’ve turned to their mature color, which will depend on the type and variety. It will be about 65 to 95 days from transplanting, but that information will be listed on the seed packet or in the seed catalog.
Be careful when harvesting hot peppers, especially if they’re super-hot types. There have been numerous times I’ve picked a handful of hot peppers and minutes later rubbed my eyes only to find them burning. Wear gloves if possible and use garden shears or snips to cut the peppers from the plant. If you pull them off, you might snap off the entire branch.
Once you’ve picked your peppers, you can enjoy them fresh from the garden or freeze, dry, or dehydrate them for future meals. I freeze medium to thick walled hot peppers, like jalapeños which I then use all winter long in cornbread and chili. Thinner walled hot peppers, like cayennes are hung in ristras to dry. They can be left to hang in your kitchen until you’re ready to use them or, once dry, they can be crushed for hot pepper flakes and stored in jars.
Did you grow a bumper crop of hot peppers? Use them to make a ristra for your kitchen. Whenever you need a little heat in your cooking, you can remove one to add to whatever dish you’re making.
Hot peppers to grow in gardens and containers
When growing hot peppers, there are a lot of types and varieties available through seed catalogs and websites. I generally choose based on which ones I use the most in my cooking. Of course, it’s fun to try new varieties and I often add one or two new-to-me hot peppers to my raised beds or containers each spring.
Mildly hot peppers:
- Anaheims – These are a common mild hot pepper with fruits that grow 6 to 8 inches long. Expect the peppers to turn from green to red and they’re often enjoyed fried, roasted in the oven, or stuffed.
- Hungarian wax peppers – These fruits are generally mild to moderately spicy, but every so often I pick one that has more bite than expected. They turn from green to orange to red and have a similar shape and appearance to sweet banana peppers, so if you’re growing both, be sure you don’t mix up the labels.
I think Jalapeños are my favorite hot pepper to grow in my garden. They’re easy to grow, productive, and not so hot that they’re hard to use in raw and cooked dishes.
Medium hot peppers:
- Jalapeño – One of the most popular hot peppers grown in gardens, varieties of Jalapeno are generally easy to grow and produce a good crop. The deep green fruits are two to four inches long and mature to red.
- Poblano – These fruits are fairly large for hot peppers – four to five inches long and two to three inches across – with deep green, almost black skin. These are fantastic for roasting and stuffing.
Very hot peppers:
- Cayenne – Some varieties are hotter than others, but these are considered to be moderately hot to hot. The green fruits mature to bright red and my new favourite variety is ‘Red Ember’, an All-America Selections winner that is a heavy producer of 4-inch long fruits. I like to dry and ground them into hot pepper flakes.
- Serrano – These peppers look a lot like Jalapeno peppers but are two to three times hotter. They’re easy to grow and produce a lot of peppers per plant. The fruits are green when immature but will turn red and yellow as they age. Use them fresh in salsa (if you dare!) or in cooked dishes.
- Habanero – This beloved pepper is at the hot end of the scale of hot peppers. Expect a Scoville rating between 100,000 and 350,000. The fruits are small, just a one and a half to two and a half inches long and have a rounded shape. There are many varieties with different mature fruit colors that include red, orange, yellow, and white.
Habanero peppers are extremely hot with small, lantern-shaped fruits that start green but mature to red, orange, yellow or white, depending on the variety.
Super hot peppers:
- Ghost pepper – Also known as Bhut Jolokia, this famous pepper was the first one with a Scoville rating over 1,000,000. And while it’s not the hottest pepper in the world any longer it is still exceptionally hot. Painfully hot. So grow and eat with caution.
- Carolina Reaper – At the time of writing, the Carolina Reaper is the hottest pepper in the world, often measuring over 2,000,000 Scoville Heat Units. It needs a long, hot season of around 120 days to mature and has small bright red fruits with a sharp spiky point.
No time to grow your own hot pepper seedlings? Many greenhouses now offer a wide variety of hot peppers seedlings in spring. A greenhouse in my area offers plenty of varieties, including Carolina Reaper peppers.
For information on growing other types of vegetables, check out these articles:
- Growing tomatoes from seed
- How to plant and grow carrots
- How to grow green beans
- Growing cucamelons in a garden
What’s your favorite type of hot pepper to grow?
If you’ve ever watched “Hot Ones,” you’ve probably asked yourself — How does host Sean Evans keep his cool the whole time? Are the guests playing it up or are their reactions genuine? And really, how spicy can those hot sauces actually be?
For those who aren’t familiar, “Hot Ones” is a YouTube series on the channel First We Feast, which boasts over 7.9 million subscribers. Evans is loved by viewers for his exceptional spice tolerance, consistently cool demeanor and incredible interview skills. On the show, Evans interviews everyone from culinary legends like Gordon Ramsay to all-star athletes like Shaquille O’Neal and even A-list celebrities like Paul Rudd and Scarlett Johansson as they eat (and fight) their way through a plate of 10 increasingly spicy chicken wings.
Da Bomb Beyond Insanity is the single most infamous hot sauce on the show, despite being No. 8 in the lineup as opposed to No. 10. And there are a couple of hypotheses on why this sauce tends to elicit the biggest reactions, of which you can watch a compilation below.
Evans’ order of hot sauces is based on Scoville units, a scale used to measure exactly how hot certain peppers are. The Classic Hot Sauce (the first hot sauce in the season 10 lineup) measures about 1,800 Scoville units, while the Last Dab, the show’s signature final hot sauce, measures over 2 million Scoville units. Da Bomb comes in at around 135,600 units, according to the show. But viewers and Amazon reviewers of the sauce emphasize that Scoville units aside, Da Bomb feels and tastes like the hottest and definitely most painful sauce on the show.
Another guess as to why it’s such a hit? Da Bomb often marks a turning point in the show where guests just absolutely lose it. Whether they start to curse uncontrollably, violently chug milk or have tears running down their faces (we’re looking at you, Shia LaBeouf), Da Bomb is the first in the final trio of hot sauces that are simply too hot to actually enjoy.
Lucky for all of us, whether you want to test your own spice skills, see a loved one break down, or challenge a group of friends or family members, Da Bomb Beyond Insanity Hot Sauce is available on Amazon for just $10.95. With a 4.3-star rating from over 2,300 reviews (which are completely entertaining to browse), the 4-ounce bottle is sure to last you forever. Just be careful to use a light hand and proceed with caution.
- Da Bomb Beyond Insanity Hot Sauce ($10.95; amazon.com)
And for those who would rather try other (less painful) hot sauces from the show, there are options from various “Hot Ones” seasons available on Amazon. We’ve ranked them from mildest to tears-in-your-eyes hottest below.
Hot Sauce No. 2, Season 9: Sauce Bae Skinny Habanero Hot Sauce ($12.98; amazon.com)
A perfect intro to next-level hot sauces, this habanero option is described as spicy without being overwhelmingly hot, with a hint of sweetness. It’s made from a special blend of ingredients that includes turmeric, a spice with the ability to reduce inflammation, fight fat and more. It’s also lower in sodium than most other sauce options, so it’s great if you’re trying to watch your salt intake. One reviewer writes, “I was surprised by this sauce but in a good way! The flavor is on point and is described perfectly on the bottle… you really don’t need a lot to get a good flavor so for anyone who is worried about the price vs the size of the bottle, a little goes a long way.”
Hot Sauce No. 2, Season 6: Heartbeat Hot Sauce – Red Habanero ($11.99; amazon.com)
Another beginner-friendly hot sauce, this vinegar-based option is a balance of savory and spicy. One reviewer sums it up well, writing, “if you are just dabbling into hot sauces and are afraid you’ll get something that’s too hot to enjoy, do not be afraid of this one… It’s probably just a little hotter than Cholula, but waaaay more flavorful.”
Hot Sauce No. 3, Season 4: Secret Aardvark Habanero Sauce ($9.30; amazon.com)
With a 4.6-star rating from over 3,100 reviews, this hot sauce has a unique Tex-Mex, Caribbean flavor that people love. Says one reviewer, “It’s manageable for those who aren’t looking to kill themselves with hot sauce but want to step up their hot sauce game with something flavorful.”
Hot Sauce No. 5, Seasons 6 through 9 and Hot Sauce No. 4, Season 10: Los Calientes ($39.95 for three; amazon.com)
A perfect middle-of-the-road hot sauce, Los Calientes is super popular on the show and with reviewers on Amazon for its classic Mexican-inspired flavors. It boasts a nearly 5-star rating from over 200 reviews, with one person writing that it’s “Slightly sweet and spicy with a nice smoke pepper kick. I cannot describe how tasty this sauce is.”
Hot Sauce No. 6, Season 9: Hell Fire Detroit Hot Sauce Habanero ($12.78; amazon.com)
Another hot-without-being-painful type of sauce, this option uses natural heat from the orange habanero, a pepper typically associated with Caribbean seasoning. One reviewer writes, “After seeing a bunch of Hot Ones stars saying this is the best of the 10 sauces, we decided to give it a try. It truly is a hot one, but it’s full of flavor, too.”
Hot Sauce No. 7, Season 3: Zombie Apocalypse Ghost Chili Hot Sauce ($13.20; amazon.com)
Making our way into the dangerously spicy hot-sauce territory, this option features 16 ghost pepper pods in every bottle. They’re combined with habanero peppers and a blend of other spices and vegetables, to make a sauce that’s described as “sweet yet terrifyingly hot.” One spicy-food lover writes, “This sauce is currently my favorite. It has the perfect balance of heat and flavor.”
Hot Sauce No. 7, Season 8: Torchbearer Sauces Garlic Reaper Sauce ($14.03; amazon.com)
This garlic option is extract-free, meaning all the heat comes from real peppers (including the infamous Carolina reaper) among other natural ingredients. While it tastes great, don’t let the garlic flavor fool you — this hot sauce is super hot. As one reviewer writes, “Tried it out due to the garlic flavor and boy do I love it! Has a hell of a kick so don’t go overboard. Learned the hard way the first time trying it!”
Hot Sauce No. 10, Season 1 and Hot Sauce No. 9, Seasons 2, 3 and 5: Mad Dog 357 Hot Sauce ($14.29; amazon.com)
Another infamous “Hot Ones” sauce, Mad Dog 357 is notoriously hot. Coming in at 357,000 Scoville units, it’s made from a blend of cayenne and habanero peppers. One reviewer writes, “This is burn your mouth, sear your taste buds, and then force you to consider jumping in a pool of ice hot.”
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed prices at the time of publication.
BUY IT: Yellowbird Sauce Habanero Condiment, $7 on Amazon
7. Matouk’s Calypso Sauce
This Scotch bonnet–based sauce comes from Trinidad. Onion powder and mustard seed bring extra flavor, but it’s the peppers themselves that give it the fruity, tropical profile it’s known for. Bonus: Its thickness is similar to ketchup, so for anyone who’s been looking for the perfect hot condiment for French fries, you’ve found it.
BUY IT: Matouk’s Calypso Sauce (Pack of 4), $24 on Amazon
8. The Pepper Plant California-Style Hot Sauce
Did we know that California had its own style of hot sauce? Not until now. This one is noted for being as much of a salty seasoning as it is a mildly hot one, so be mindful when dashing it over absolutely anything and everything (but especially burritos).
BUY IT: Pepper Plant Original Hot Pepper Sauce, $9 on Amazon
9. Marie Sharp’s Habanero Pepper Sauce
Habaneros are often picked when they’re still orange—but the ones used in this spicy sauce were left to ripen until fully red. That makes them fruitier, sweeter, and yes—hotter. Marie Sharp may sound like the name of a 3rd grade music teacher in a children’s book, but she’s actually a real person (who did in fact start out as a teacher, before she began selling her signature hot sauce in Belize circa 1981).
BUY IT: Marie Sharp’s Hot Sauce (Pack of 2), $22 on Amazon
10. D.L. Jardine’s Blazin’ Saddle XXX Hot Sauce
KatieD on Amazon put it right: “This is my favorite hot sauce. My obsession is real and I’m not even slightly ashamed. It has a kick that will get you, but the taste is amazing and is worth the sting.” This sauce is deservedly popular in its home state of Texas. Now you can make it a thing in your home state, too.
BUY IT: D.L. Jardine’s Blazin’ Saddle Habanero XXX Hot Sauce, $9 on Amazon
11. Yucatan Sunshine Sauce
This habanero pepper sauce is inspired by flavoring used throughout the Yucatan for over 2,500 years. With a blend of carrots, onions, and other natural ingredients, the heat level stays controlled. Reviewers love its depth of flavor—this isn’t a hot sauce that will burn for the sake of burning, but rather one that will add complex flavor to any dish.
BUY IT: Try Me Yucatan Sunshine Sauce (Pack of 4), $17 on Amazon
12. Secret Aardvark Habanero Hot Sauce
Billed as a Tex-Mex and Caribbean hybrid, this sauce has a base of habaneros and roasted tomatoes, but the flavor is rounded out with mustard, turmeric, “spices,” and…I don’t know…magic? Advocates of the Aardvark say it goes well with anything: burgers, eggs, pizza, etc. Suzanne on Amazon called it “Incredible! Really yummy, smokey, with a hint of citrus flavor.” Made in Portland, Oregon, it’s become nearly as ubiquitous on restaurant tables there as ketchup.
BUY IT: Secret Aardvark Habanero Sauce, $13 on Amazon
13. El Yucateco Green Chile Habanero Sauce
Who says hot sauce has to be red, orange, or yellow? This classic sauce, made with green habanero peppers, has a grassy, fresh quality that most habanero hot sauces lack. Little else goes into the mix to block the heat. Lovers of El Yucateco praise its low vinegar profile and clean, fresh flavor.
BUY IT: El Yucateco Green Chile Habanero Sauce, $6 on Amazon
14. Weak Knees Gochujang Sriracha
A twist on classic Sriracha, this Brooklyn-made spicy sauce has the sweet and spicy flavors you know and love in addition to the fermented complexity of Korean gochujang. Amazon reviewer Jimmy Dean—presumably the country singer and breakfast sandwich guru from beyond the ether—added, “What really sets this sauce off is the hint of sweetness that you get before the heat kicks in, creating a good balance that pairs nicely with a lot of different types of foods (Southern fried chicken tacos have been my favorite thus far). Long story short, this is definitely one of the best Sriracha variants I’ve ever had.” You know Jimmy wouldn’t lie to you.
What Type of Peppers Should I Use for My Hot Sauce?
Every good hot sauce starts with a good pepper. Knowing what kind of pepper to put in your sauce is key to mastering a variety of recipes you may wish to sell to hot sauce lovers around the world.
Today’s peppers are stronger, more intense, and some are downright painful to the taste buds. There are many considerations when choosing just how spicy your hot sauce will get and choosing the right peppers makes all the difference.
What types of peppers are common in hot sauce?
There are so many varieties of peppers available, it is important to decide which peppers are right for your sauce before you get overwhelmed. Whether you’re planning to grow your own peppers or procure them from outside sources, you need to know what you’re talking about.
The Scoville Scale is the standard measurement system used to determine a pepper’s spiciness. Typically, peppers fall within one of five categories based on their Scoville rating:
Sweet or mild chili peppers range between 0 and 2500. These include most bell pepper varieties and peppers like:
- Aji Panc chili peppers
- Anaheim chili peppers
- Hatch chili peppers
Medium chili peppers range between 2501 and 15,000 and include peppers like:
- Ancho peppers
- Jalapeño peppers
- Serrano peppers
Medium hot chili peppers range between 15,001 and 100,000 and include peppers like:
Hot chili peppers range between 100,001 and 300,000 and include peppers like:
- Orange habanero
Superhots range above 300,001 and include peppers like:
- Ghost pepper
- Red Savina habanero
- Carolina Reaper, currently one of the hottest peppers available
Within this list there are many more varieties to consider, based on how mild or hot you want your sauce.
Where are most chili peppers harvested?
If you plan to import the best of the best in peppers for your hot sauce, you may want to look to regions like New Mexico and California. These areas offer the biggest harvest of chili peppers, usually between the months of August and October.
In many cases, peppers are green when harvested but turn different colors, including red, purple, orange, and yellow as they ripen.
What do I look for in a good chili pepper?
When selecting a pepper for your hot sauce, check the pepper skin for signs of imperfections and freshness. When selecting jalapeño peppers, most will have skin marred by brownish cracks which is normal and doesn’t impact the quality or flavor of the pepper. You should also lift peppers to locate the ones that are heaviest. Soft or mushy peppers can indicate the presence of mold inside.
How do I store peppers properly?
The biggest issue to consider with pepper storage is exposure to moisture. To store your peppers properly, place them in a brown paper bag and keep them in the refrigerator. Plastic bags can cause mold growth on the exterior of the peppers.
Properly stored peppers can typically last for up to a week without affecting their condition or flavor.
Working safely with peppers
If you choose to use the hotter pepper varieties, it is vital that you protect your face and hands during pepper preparation. Wear rubber gloves and protective glasses to prevent accidental splashing of pepper juice that can cause severe burning and irritation to your skin and mucous membranes.
Avoid touching your eyes and other parts of your body without first washing your hands thoroughly.
If you ingest peppers, your mouth may immediately start burning. Depending on the intensity of the pepper, you need to find the right kind of relief to prevent real damage to your tongue and mouth.
The burning is caused by the capsaicin oils and drinking water can only make the problem worse. Water and other liquids spread the oils to other areas and provide no relief. Your best bet for calming down the heat of your mouth is to ingest products that contain fats that bind with capsaicin.
Good things to grab to put out a mouth fire include:
- Ice cream
With so many pepper choices to consider, it may be worth your while to experiment with several types of pepper heat to create the perfect hot sauce recipe. Be smart and aware when preparing your peppers and enjoy the process of improving your sauce recipe one new pepper at a time.
Jonathan @ BottleStoreJonathan is the Online Marketing Manger of BottleStore and it’s parent – The O.Berk Company. In addition to making BottleStore work and run smoothly, Jonathan also enjoys passing on packaging knowledge to help solve customer pain points. He is the chief architect of Packaging Crash Course – a packaging resource hub for rigid glass and plastic packaging site.
Welcome to Out of the Kitchen, our ongoing exploration of America’s coolest food artisans. Over the next few months, we’re apprenticing with the best knife forgers, cider brewers, and spice blenders, then bringing their knowledge and expertise back to our home kitchens—and to yours.
Hey! Do you want to know a secret? It’s a secret about hot sauces—and you like hot sauces, right? Well, look, I’ve tried a lot of them, from Tabasco and Sriracha to nameless concoctions in unlabeled, reused Lucozade bottles from second-tier Caribbean islands. I’ve nibbled sky-facing chiles in Chongqing housing complexes and filled bags with dried miraciels in Chiapas markets. I’ve eaten raw Reapers and lived to tell the tale. And most recently, I observed Ariel Fliman and Brian Ballan, the guys behind A&B American Style, as they whipped up an enormous batch of their flavorful pepper sauce in Queens.
Now, after taking their advice and making hot sauce in my own home kitchen, I can reveal the secret: Making hot sauce is really pretty easy.
See, hot sauce is pretty forgiving. Use fresh, spicy chiles and enough vinegar, and you’ll create a condiment that will set your mouth aflame in just the way you like. And there’s isn’t much you can do to screw that up, short of pouring whipping cream into the mix. The process is that simple. As Ballan explained it to me, you’ve got four elements: chiles, acid, aromatics (carrots, onions, etc.), and salt. Get roughly the right proportions of each, and you’ll wind up with something downright edible, and maybe even quite tasty.
That’s not to say that making a fantastic hot sauce is easy. Quite the contrary. Mastering those proportions takes trial and error, as does navigating the different varieties of sauces—cooked, raw, fruit-based, ketchupesque.… And of course, there’s sourcing: Which of the million varieties of chiles are you going to use? Fresh, dried, or a combination of the two? What kind of acid—white vinegar, cider vinegar, citrus…? How much will different varieties of salt affect the outcome?
In my own years of making hot sauces at home, I’ve come up with some I loved and others that were perfectly fine if I didn’t think too hard about them. This year, though, I wanted to be more mindful of the process, and so I set out to create one sauce that would hew to A&B’s principles, if not their precise recipe: simple, fresh ingredients you actually want to taste (carrots, onions, and two kinds of chiles, one hot, the other not so), simmered in a bath of white vinegar, puréed into a crimson slurry. Oh, and no added sugar.
When you make a hot sauce this way, the most tedious part is prepping the ingredients. I shredded two fat carrots before getting bored and deciding to simply put everything else—i.e., two sliced red onions, kosher salt, a dozen cloves of garlic, and a pound of red jalapeños (the kind used for Sriracha) and red habaneros—in a pot with a quart of white vinegar and turning the heat to medium-high. Once that had simmered for a little while, I poked in my stick blender and blitzed everything into a liquid. Done!
Well, not quite. The liquid was, you know, liquidy—not so much a sauce as a drizzle. Of course, it was bubbling in a pot on the stove, so I just left it there to slowly reduce, knowing that the cooking process would also temper the heat of the chiles.
While that was going on, I turned my attention to my second sauce. This was to be a fantasy sauce. I’d been dreaming of a really hot sauce with a bright, sweet-tart grapefruit element—something to drizzle over, say, carnitas—but I’d been unsure how to accomplish that. In talks with Ballan at the A&B facility, we’d bandied about some theories. Don’t cook the citrus, he warned, or it would lose its oomph. Should I use grapefruit zest, too, I wondered? What kind of chiles would match well with the fruit? Ballan didn’t have hard-and-fast answers, but neither did he warn me off experimenting. His partner, however, suggested that I do so in a well-ventilated kitchen.
So I experimented! The chiles consisted of maybe half a pound of lemon drops (a small, canary-yellow pepper with a sharp bite), orange habaneros, and green serranos—which presented a problem, sort of. Green chiles may look and taste great, but they often turn brown over time when made into sauce. To sidestep that, I browned them myself—blackened them, really—under my oven’s broiler.
Into the pot they go.
Then I put all the chiles in a quart-sized plastic container along with several good glugs of rice vinegar (which I like both for its sweetness and the way it won’t overwhelm other ingredients), kosher salt, the juice of one lime, the zest of a lemon, and the juice of half a ruby-red grapefruit. Why those specific citruses? The lime was for pure acidity, the lemon zest for a more rounded citrus flavor, and the grapefruit for its intense fruitiness. Into the container went the stick blender again, and 60 seconds later I had a new hot sauce.
Would it be any good? I dipped in a spoon, scooped out a small blob of black-flecked green, and brought the bite to my mouth—it exploded on contact! In an instant, every part of my mouth was aflame, yet suffused with that sweet-tart intensity of grapefruit. And although the heat lingered as I hoped it would, it also leveled off, revealing the smokiness that came from roasting the serranos. This, by some wonderful magic, was an excellent concoction.
Would the A&B-style sauce turn out likewise? After an hour’s simmer, it had reduced enough to take it off the heat. And while I knew I could taste it straight, it didn’t seem right. But this was meant to be enjoyed with food. So I got to work again, poaching a whole chicken in a small pot with ginger, scallions, and garlic, removing the chicken after 20 minutes to an ice bath, and cooking rice in the new chicken stock. This you may recognize as a version of Hainanese chicken rice, the Singaporean classic that is meant to accompanied by a hot sauce made from red chiles, vinegar, and garlic—precisely what I’d made.
And, yeah, as an accompaniment to food, it was good! My sauce was hotter than what A&B makes, and maybe less market-fresh (more carrots next time?), but still a fabulous counterpart to the cool chicken and stock-saturated rice. It hit me (and my wife) with a vinegary punch, but didn’t outstay its welcome. You could eat it with every bite and not blow out your taste buds.
The thing is, now that I’ve made hot sauces more mindfully, thanks to A&B, I’m not sure what I (or you) should do differently next time—besides everything. “Hot sauce” as a concept is fantastic, but it’s hardly one-size-fits-all. You like what you like, and use it wherever seems right. Who am I to tell you how to make it, except to keep in mind Ballan’s quadruplets—chiles, acid, aromatics, salt?
I will, however, tell you that you should definitely make hot sauce at home. The homemade version, no matter how you home-make it, tastes fresher, more alive, more satisfying than anything you’d ever get from a store. (Trust me, I taste-tested dozens of varieties for a competition, and would still probably choose a janky-but-fresh homebrew over all but a few.) And chiles, generally speaking, are highly affordable, so what’s there to lose? Buy a couple of pounds, break out the stick blender, and make enough to give bottles to your friends.
And I’m your friend now, right?
The Science Of Chiles, Peppers, And Hot Sauces
By Meathead Goldwyn
“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”President Harry S. Truman
In Central America the Nahuatl (Aztec) Indians grew a number of plants whose fruit they used in foods and medicines. They named it chil and its use spread across the region and Caribbean.
In 1492 Columbus discovered the Arawak Indians growing them on Hispanola and wrote that “They deem it very wholesome and eat nothing without it.” He brought them back to Spain where the “e” was added to chil, and within 50 years its’ cultivation had spread around the world. Today there are scores of varieties, sizes, shapes, colors, flavors, and they all have a spicy heat of varying degrees. Horticulturists named the plant Capsicum, derived from the Greek word kapto, which means “to bite” and scientists named the active ingredient that bites capsaicin.
Here are the definitive definitions describing the differences between chiles and chilis, some info about how hot the common ones are, and some tips on using them.
There are three definitions for “Chile”, with the concluding “e”:
1) Chile is the colorful fruit (it is technically not a vegetable) of the Capsicum plant, also called a pepper (that’s a jalapeno pepper above). But this pepper is not at all the same as the black pepper we put next to the salt shaker. Black pepper is the powder made from grinding peppercorns, the fruit of the Piperaceae plant.
Most chiles are spicy hot, which they get from a chemical irritant named capsaicin, which, interestingly, is also used in ointments as a pain reliever for such ailments as shingles because it can numb nerves. Let that sink in for a moment. A few peppers, like the common green and red bell peppers, have no heat and can be quite sweet.
Let’s bust another myth: Many people believe that the heat of a chile is all in the seeds. While the seeds do have some heat, by far most of the capsaicin is in the ribs that hold the seeds.
Most of the seeds are held in a bunch near the stem in a pod called the placenta. The closer the veins get to the placenta, the hotter they are. So if you have a low tolerance to heat, slice open the chile and gut it by removing the seeds and veins.
In the northern hemisphere, most chiles are harvested between August and October, and the biggest producers are New Mexico and California. Most are harvested when green, but the longer they ripen the redder they turn. Some are purple, yellow, and orange. When shopping for peppers, look for smooth skin, a sign of freshness, and select those that are heaviest. The main exception is the jalapeño, whose skin is often marked by thin woody brown cracks, which detract not at all from their quality.
Fresh peppers have very different flavors than dried peppers, chiles pasado. For that reason you should not substitute anchos, which are dried poblano peppers, for fresh poblanos in a recipe, or vise versa.
There are scores of different types of chiles, and they range in heat from mild to incendiary (see the table below).
Other definitions of chile:
2) Chile is also the name for powdered chile peppers in most countries. In Mexico and Asia and Europe, chile powder is simply ground dried red chiles.
3) Chile is a sauce made mostly of chile peppers. It is usually chiles chopped or pureed, mixed perhaps with some garlic and salt, but not much else. This definition is common in New Mexico and Texas, where chile sauce slathered on everything except marshmallows.
4) And of course, Chile is a sovereign nation in South America.
Chili, with the concluding “i”, is used almost entirely in the US, and it also has multiple definitions:
1) Chili or American chili powder is a powdered spice mix made from dried chile peppers, cumin, garlic, and other spices.
2) Chili is also savory meat stew, usually beef, seasoned with American chili powder. It is the national dish of Texas.
3) Chili is a band: Red Hot Chili Peppers.
4) And Chili is a restaurant chain: Chili’s Grill & Bar.
About Chili Powder
In Europe this is usually just ground hot chiles. In the US it is a blend of chiles and other spices.
Sometimes restaurants and recipes spell chili or chile with two Ls. It is wrong.
Bell Peppers and pimento
Those softball sized thick fleshed green and red peppers in your grocery store are indeed chile peppers even though they are called both bell peppers and sweet peppers. They start out green with an herbaceous, vegetal, and grassy flavor. As they ripen they turn red or orange or yellow and develop more fruity and floral characteristics. In general, as they ripen they also get hotter.
The stuff in the middle of your martini olive is a slice of pimento which is a ripe red pepper which gets its name from the Spanish word pimiento, which means pepper. Pimento cheese sandwiches are common in the South and traditional at the Master’s golf tournament in Augusta Georgia. It is made with chopped pimento, cheddar cheese, and mayonnaise.
Sweet peppers can be roasted on the grill in the summer, allowing the skin to burn, then peeled, and frozen for use all winter. We usually put them in zipper bags with a splash of olive oil.
If you haven’t tried them yet, I strongly recommend you experiment with orange bell peppers. They are rich, sweet, and have a hint of cinnamon. I love em.
My favorite hot pepper sauces are blends of both hot chiles and sweet peppers. Frank’s is a great example.
Buying and storing peppers
Try to buy firm fleshed peppers with tight skins like a botoxed face. A few peppers, like Scotch bonnets and habaneros have undulating surfaces, but small wrinkles are usually a sign of a pepper that is not fresh. Beware of soft flesh and bruises. They can be mushy or moldy inside. Moisture is the enemy of fresh peppers. Store them in the fridge in a paper bag for about a week. Plastic bags promote mold growth.
The nomenclature for paprika can be confusing. In some countries paprika means fresh sweet chile peppers, in others it can mean hot chile pepper powder, but in the US it is always a powder and it is never hot unless it is so labeled.
When I refer to paprika or American paprika or sweet paprika in my recipes, I mean the simple mild reddish orange powder on most American grocery store spice racks. It is made from dried sweet red peppers. Much of it comes from Spain and Hungary and it resembles Spanish paprika or Hungarian paprika. When fresh, it has a mild flavor, and is used primarily for color. When old, it is just flavorless red dust. The McCormick spice people say that, pound for pound, paprika has a more Vitamin C than citrus fruit.
Then there’s hot paprika, which has some hot peppers in the blend. There’s also smoked sweet paprika and smoked hot paprika. They are made from peppers that are slowly dried in the presence of hardwood smoke, and they are easy to make at home. Just smoke hot red peppers at a low temp, preferably about 225°F for four to six hours until dry enough to grind. I usually remove the stem, split it lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds. This helps it dry faster and gets more smoke to the party. Show some style and make a blend of sweet red pepper and hot red pepper, and throw out that store bought dust.
How hot is that chile?
Peppers start green and as they ripen turn red, orange, yellow, or purple as they ripen. In general the smaller the chile the hotter, the greener, the hotter, the skinnier, the hotter. The most notable exceptions to the rule are the habanero and the Scotch bonnet, both of which are broad shouldered, medium sized, orange or red, and very very hot. Recent research indicates chiles are hotter when grown in hot humid climates.
The amount of heat in a chile pepper is measured on a culinary Richter scale called the Scoville Heat Units (SHU) scale. One part per million of capsaicin is equivalent to 15 Scoville units. About 85% of the capsaicin in a chile pepper is concentrated in the ribs on the inside of the pepper, about 10% is in the seeds, and 5% in the meat and the skin. This means that you can get the flavor of a jalapeño, for example, without the heat, by removing the seeds and ribs. Measuring SHU is not very precise. To measure SHU, peppers are dried, ground, and mixed with alcohol to produce an oil extract. The oil is diluted with water and sugar and tasted. The Scoville measurement is the level of dilution where tasters can no longer sense the heat. Since the heat of a pepper can vary from one valley to another, from one bush to another, and since this system relies on human taste tests, it is highly inaccurate. The American Spice Trade Association (ASTA) uses chromatography to measure the concentration of heat producing chemicals. Conversion to SHU is not precise, however.
When chopping hot chile peppers it is wise to wear rubber gloves, and be sure not to touch your eyes, pick your nose, use the urinal, or make love before you wash thoroughly. On the last two items, I could relate stories I have heard, but this is a family website.
Cooking chiles usually diminishes the heat.
Chile sauces will change color and flavor with age, but the heat will not diminish.
How hot is it?
Here are some benchmarks:
Putting out the fire
Capsaicin is not water soluble, so if your mouth ignites when eating hot peppers or hot sauce, beer and cold water are not very good at putting out the fire. They only distribute the capsaicin oils. On the other hand, lipids in fats bind with capsaicin, so milk, yogurt, butter, and other fats do a better job of damping the flames. Ice cream and Indian fruit lassis are the perfect fire extinguishers. Reader Bob Walsh of Shoreview, MN, sent me this tip: “When your trying hot sauce have some chocolate chips on hand. If it’s too hot pop one or two in your mouth. For most people it will tame it right away.”
Here are some common peppers and their SHUs. Actual heat may vary depending on the sub-varieties, climate, and vintage. A more complete listing can be found on chilehead
To make your own signature hot sauce, start with my recipe for Controlled Burn Hot Sauce.
Making your own pepper flakes and powders
Stop spending money on chile pepper flakes that are old and mostly flavorless seeds. It is a snap to make your own. You can even make your own paprika.
The technique is simple. Gloves on, split the peppers in half, remove the seeds and stems. Leave or remove the ribs depending on how much heat you want. Put them in the oven at a temp below boiling, about 200°F for about 4 to 6 hours. You can also place them on a grill in the indirect heat zone or in a smoker. Smoked flakes or powder is wonderful. I grind them in a coffee grinder but you can also use a blender of food processor. But the coffee grinder does a better job.
You can use whatever chiles you want, any color. We make these every year:
Cayenne. We dry them and flake them without the seeds. Far superior to grocery store pepper flakes.
Carmen. This is a thin-skinned no-heat pepper gets ripe and sweet and red in my cool climate garden every year. It grows about 6″ long, about 2-3″ at the shoulders and pointy at the tip. When dried it has a rich raiseny character. We make flakes that we use in things like tuna salad or potato salad where they reconstitute in the moist environment. We also powder Carmen for paprika, with a bright reddish orange color, better tasting than anything from Hungary or Spain in the grocery stores. We also smoke it to make smoked paprika.
Jalapenos. I smoke them, red or green, and make chipotle powder. My first choice for pizza and pasta.
Poblanos. When you dry these meaty green peppers they are called anchos, and they have slight chocolatey prune flavor. Anchos are the cornerstone of chili powders and molé sauces, when added to a stew they bring a richness and depth. They are only slightly hot.
Black Pearl Peppers!
Mrs. Meathead and I first saw black pearl peppers in a garden at the Smithsonian in August 2006. We were very impressed with the beauty of the new hybrid.
The leaves are shiny purple black, the peppers start out shiny purple black like eggplants and then turn candy apple red late in summer although they never get bigger than a marble. These suckers are pretty durn hot, but unlike a lot of hot chiles they have thick walls and good flavor. Don’t ask me how hot because they are at my upper limit.
We have a plant we started in spring 2007 in a pot and we bring it in for the winter, put it back out in spring. It is till alive and it is still putting out fresh peppers year round.
It is a new hybrid from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Beltsville, MD, released in 2005, and it is now showing up in seed catalogs. Click here to order Black Pearl Seeds.
The favorite hot sauces of a wimp
Let’s get this fact up front: I’m a wimp. I cannot eat habaneros and too much hot sauce makes me cry like a teenage girl who’s been stood up for the prom. But I do like complexity in my food, so I make my own signature Controlled Burn Hot Sauce. For recipes on this site I use commercial hot sauces that you can find almost anywhere. They perk the palate without pummeling it. All are winners of my coveted “Meathead’s Gold Award”.
Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce. Tabasco Chipotle is made from smoked jalapeño peppers in vinegar and has a wonderful smoky flavor, a strong vinegar bite, and, of course, the capsaicin kick. It is my go-to hot sauce and you will see it in many of my recipes. I much prefer it to the original Tabasco which was, according to company records, first made in the 1860s after Edmund McIlhenny planted hot peppers on his family’s property on Avery Island, LA. By 1868 McIlhenny started to market Tabasco Sauce. His process is still used today, and Avery Island remains the headquarters for the worldwide company that is still owned and operated by direct descendants of Edmund McIlhenny. Avery Island is about 2.5 hours west of New Orleans, and the charming spot is open to visitors. 1,500 – 2,500 Scoville Heat Units (see definition below)
Frank’s Original RedHot Cayenne Pepper Sauce. Frank’s started making hot sauce in 1918 from Louisiana peppers and today its peppers come from New Mexico and Mexico where it is made into a mash and shipped to Springfield, MO, where it is cooked, seasoned, and bottled. Frank’s claims it is “the secret ingredient in the original Buffalo wings created in Buffalo, NY in 1964.” I think it’s secret to success is the proper balance of heat and flavor. Unlike so many hot pepper sauces that seem to be just capsaicin and vinegar, Frank’s has a distinct bell pepper flavor. 450 SVU
Sriracha.This is a thick mild chile paste made from red chile peppers, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and salt. I like it because it is not just pure fire as are many hot sauces. This stuff is rich and complex. It can be mixed with lime juice, hoisin sauce, or even ketchup and barbecue sauce. It comes in a squeeze bottle and I use it as a condiment as well as an ingredient in marinades and sauces. 2,200 SVU
Chipotle in Adobo Sauce.. I am in love with this stuff. It is made of smoked jalapeños in a thick sauce of tomato puree, vinegar, onion, garlic, and goodness knows what spices and herbs. But the flavor is so sexy. It’s a little to hot for me straight from the can, so I decant it into a small bottle, and use it minced fine to amp up sauces. It’s perfect for barbecue sauces, and mixed with mayo it is a natural for fish tacos and hamburgers. There are many brands and you’ll find one in your grocery store in the Mexican section.
Maggi Sweet Chili Sauce from Thailand. A nice blend of sweet and heat, with a bit more sweet than heat. There’s also a warmth from garlic just below the surface. It is pretty mild in the heat department, I can even eat it by the spoon. But there is still a distinct Asian zing. I use it as a dipping sauce for egg rolls, on a pulled pork sandwich instewad of barbecue sauce, on eggs, and in stir fries, especially shrimp.
Tiger Sauce. Made in New Orleans, this is a really nicely balanced sauce with flavor to accompany the heat. The active ingredients are vinegar and aged cayene chiles, but there is a hint of sweetness just enough to balance but not turn it sweet, not nearly as sweet as Maggi Sauce. There’s also Worcestershire in the background and a pinch of salt.
Harissa. This hot pepper paste is easy to make and I use it on more and more foods all the time. Click the link for my recipe.
Penzey’s Chipotle Powder. Chipotle powder is made by grinding dried, smoked jalapeños. It brings flavor, heat, and an exotic smokiness. I just put a shaker bottle of this amazing stuff on the table at most meals. It’s amazing on anything with tomato sauce especially pizza and pasta. Sprinkle it on beans, stir fries, anything except ice cream.
More on chiles
- Fiery Foods magazine.
- Growing Chiles.
- Chile Pepper Institute.
- Make your own hot sauce with this recipe Controlled Burn Hot Sauce
Organic Homemade Hot Sauce Recipes
Make Your Own Hot Pepper Sauces
Habanero Hot Sauce, Jalapeno Hot Sauce & Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce Recipes
Hot pepper sauces are ALL over the internet. And there are some really tasty and innovative sauces. But, Pepper Joe’s favorites are his own home-made sauces. You can control the freshness of ingredients,the heat level, and make sure it’s wholesome, organic and chemical and preservative free.
Listed are two easy-to-make recipes that I hope will become family favorites. Keep them refrigerated. They should last at least one year (although I’d bet they will go a lot quicker than that).
Pepper Joe’s Hot Sauce (Medium Hot)
- 12 jalapeno peppers
- 8 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 whole lime
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 TB salt
- 1/2 TB onion powder
- 1/2 TB garlic powder
Cut hot pepper in half and remove seeds. Drop in boiling water for 30 seconds to blanche. Squeeze juice from lime and combine hot peppers with all other ingredients in blender and chop. Then put on high speed to blend all ingredients together. Store in an old hot pepper sauce bottle or ketsup bottle and store in fridge. It’s simple to make and 100% natural.
For a hotter gourmet type read on…
Pepper Joe’s Island Hot Sauce (A 10 on the Pepper Joe Heat Scale)
- 12 habanero peppers
- 2 carrots
- 1 large onion
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 TB salt
- 1/4 TB white pepper
- 1 lime
- 8 TB white vinegar
Cut habanero peppers in half and remove seeds. Drop in boiling water for 30 seconds to blanche.(handle with care) Remove peppers and put onion, carrots and garlic cloves into boiling water and cook until tender. Squeeze juice from lime and combine all ingredients and put in blender. First chop, then blend at high speed. done!
Just put in wide-mouth jar and store in fridge. Spoon out this hot sauce as needed. Delicious on cheesesteaks, hamburgers, pizza, or added to soups, chili, tomato sauce. Also can scrub garage floors.
Bhut Jolokia Hot Sauce – Ghost Pepper Sauce
- 3 Ghost Peppers
- 5 cloves of garlic
- Whole onion
- White pepper
- 4 carrots
- Apple cider vinegar
In a food processor chop up the Ghost Peppers, onion, garlic and carrots. Add salt and white pepper to taste (a tsp. of turmeric if you’d like as an additional preservative).
Add in 1/3 water and 2/3 Apple cider vinegar…to your consistency liking. This makes a thicker Hot Sauce that you can ‘spoon’ out.
The carrots, garlic and onion take a LITTLE of the edge off of the Ghost Peppers.
But CAUTION….this is a VERY Hot Sauce.
Even More Hot Sauce Recipes
Pepper Joe’s Island Hot Sauce
Gourmet Roasted Garlic Hot Sauce
Find Your Best Pepper
Anaheim Hot Pepper
Pepper plant that produces chilis with a hot mellow flavor; fruit ripens to a deep red.
Great when fresh
Big Bertha Bell Pepper
Extra large bell peppers that are perfect for stuffing.
Great for cooking
Blonde Belle Pepper
Hybrid. Invite a blonde bombshell to your garden! The unique, stunning fruit of Blonde Belle Pepper contrasts beautifully with the…
New for 2020
pickling and preserving
Bonnie Green Bell Pepper
Heavy yields of large, 4-lobed bell peppers.
Bunker Green Bell Pepper
The perfect pepper for stuffing, freezing, and fresh eating!
Cajun Belle Pepper
Cajun Belle pepper combines both sweet and mildly hot, spicy flavor.
Candy Cane Pepper
Hybrid. You’ll love this sweet treat! Candy Cane’s variegated leaves and striped, early-arriving fruit make it look like an ornamental…
Carmen Italian Sweet Pepper
Ideal for roasting. Elongated shape.
Pickling & Preserving
Carolina Reaper Pepper
Do you dare to grow the world’s hottest pepper? Get your milk-chaser ready, because Carolina Reaper packs a punch! With…
Chile de Arbol Hot Pepper
Use chili de arbol for blue ribbon-worthy chili.
Chili Red Hot Pepper
Chili peppers perfect for chili sauce come from this hot pepper plant.
Coolapeño Heatless Jalapeño Pepper
Surprise! This jalapeño is all flavor, no bite—just the thing for tender tongues.
Cowhorn Hot Pepper
Thick-walled, hot peppers grow on this pepper plant.
Some prefer the Cubanelle pepper to traditional bell peppers because of their sweet and mild flavor.
Dragon Cayenne Pepper
This variety thrives where the growing season is long and hot.
Early Flame Jalapeno Pepper
Hybrid. Enjoy jalapeno poppers early in the season! With Early Flame, you’ll harvest peppers much sooner than with traditional jalapeno…
Flaming Flare Fresno Chili Pepper
These colorful peppers are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate.
Fresh Bites Orange Pepper
Hybrid. Think that you need a big garden to grow delicious food? Think again! The compact nature of Fresh Bites…
Garden Salsa Hot Pepper
Disease resistant pepper plant that produces heavy yields of medium-hot peppers.
Giant Marconi Pepper
Sweet pepper known for its productivity and flavor. All-America Selections winner.
Golden Cayenne Pepper
A golden version of cayenne.
Gypsy pepper plants produce sweet peppers. All America Selections Winner.
Habanero Hot Pepper
Habanero pepper plants produce potent, extremely hot peppers.
Havasu Hot Pepper
These moderately spicy peppers ripen from green to pale yellow to orange to red.
Hot Banana Pepper
High-yielding banana pepper plant yields medium hot peppers.
Hot Burrito Pepper
Don’t let the small size fool you—this compact pepper plant produces fruit that packs heat! If you love hot peppers,…
Hot Cayenne Pepper
Can you take the heat? If you love hot peppers, then add Hot Cayenne to your garden. A famously fiery…
New for 2019
Jalafuego Hot Pepper
Hybrid. A large, strong plant, Jalafuego produces loads of extra-long jalapeños. This is the perfect pepper for super-sized poppers, big…
Jalapeno Hot Pepper
The most popular chile pepper, jalapenos are moderately hot.
Lunchbox Orange Sweet Snacking Pepper
Fill your garden with a healthy snack for lunchtime and beyond. These sweet orange snacking peppers serve both loads of crunch and lots of beta-carotene and vitamin C.
Lunchbox Red Sweet Snacking Pepper
Talk about goodness from the garden! These deliciously sweet, snack-size red peppers taste so good right off the plant that…
New for 2018
Mad Hatter Pepper
Add interest to your garden and delicious flavor to your meals with Mad Hatter peppers, which look (fittingly!) like little…
sweet with heat
Mammoth Jalapeño Hot Pepper
The giant jalapeno pepper plant produces jalapeno peppers large enough to stuff.
This mildly spicy bell pepper plant offers the best of both worlds.
Mild Jalapeño Pepper
A milder jalapeno variety, this jalapeno pepper plant offers all the flavor with less heat.
Mucho Nacho Jalapeño Hot Pepper
This jalapeno pepper plant variety produces big, fat jalapeno peppers.
New Mexico 6-4L Pepper
If you want to grow just one chile pepper for New Mexican cuisine, this is it.
Orange Bell Pepper
Sweet, blocky orange bell peppers from this bell pepper plant are high in antioxidants.
Pequin Chili Pepper
A beautiful plant! The tiny fruits turn brilliant red when ripe, but don’t let their beauty fool you: These peppers…
These pepper plants produce the popular pimiento cheese pepper.
Poblano-Ancho Hot Pepper
Poblano pepper plants produce thick-walled, mildy hot peppers also known as Ancho peppers.
Purple Bell Sweet Pepper
Short on space? These richly colored beauties adapt well to growing in containers.
Purple Flash Pepper
Purple Flash peppers are edible, but really pack the heat.
Red Bell Pepper
This bell pepper plant produces easy-to-grow, blocky red bell peppers for stuffing.
Red Ghost Pepper
This pepper may look harmless, but the ghost pepper is one of the hottest peppers in the world.
Red Hot Chili Pepper
Hybrid. Can you take the heat? Red Hot Chili Pepper is hot in more ways than just its Scoville rating—it’s…
Roasted Red Pepper
Hybrid. Early, delicious, and highly productive—what’s not to love about this pepper? A perfect Italian grilling pepper with sweet, smoky…
Sandia Hot Pepper
Versatile pepper with mild heat.
These tiny, colorful peppers beg to be picked and even used in arrangements.
Santa Fe Grande Hot Pepper
Medium hot pepper plant with slightly sweet chile peppers.
Serrano Hot Pepper
High yielding pepper plant that produces hot, pungent serrano chile peppers perfect for salsa and pico de gallo.
Shishito Sweet Pepper
Grow the pepper that’s long been prized by restaurants and is a favorite among chefs. Shishito is a Japanese sweet…
Snackabelle Red Pepper
Hybrid. Adorable and delicious, you’ll love the petite peppers and compact plant size of Snackabelle Red Pepper! The sweet, thick-walled…
Spicy Slice Jalapeno Pepper
Hybrid. Add kick to your salsa, nachos, or poppers with Spicy Slice! This early-maturing, extra long jalapeno pepper will be…
Sweet Banana Pepper
Banana pepper plant that produce large quantities of sweet, mild peppers.
Sweet Heat Pepper
Hybrid. One of the earliest peppers to bear fruit. Why wait all summer to enjoy peppers when you can grow…
Sweet Sunrise Yellow Bell Pepper
Gorgeous sunshine-colored, blocky peppers have a sweet, fruity flavor.
Tabasco Hot Pepper
Hot, smoky flavored tabasco peppers used in the famous sauce. This pepper plant is very easy to grow.
Tepin Chili Pepper
These round, shiny peppers may be tiny, but they pack a lot of heat. Fruits gradually mature from green to…
Thai Hot Ornamental Pepper
High-yielding Thai hot pepper plants are pretty in containers and bear blazing hot peppers.
Yellow Bell Pepper
High in vitamins and very sweet to eat, the yellow bell peppers from this pepper plant are great for eating.
This year is my first year trying to grow peppers from seed. As is normal for any avid and eager gardener, I have gone crazy and ordered tons of varieties and I also planted way way WAY too many pepper plants for feeding only two people. Don’t worry, I already plan on making tons of salsa! 🙂 As I planted the multiple types of pepper plants, I started writing down little notes for each specific type of pepper. It quickly became overwhelming, so I decided to jot down these specific details in this beloved gardening blog in order to simplify my life. No more frantically sifting through random post-it notes for me anymore! I hope this information is helpful for anyone else who is trying to grow different types of peppers this year. For general pepper growing information, please check out my post on growing them found here. Before I start with my pepper variety information, here is a list of additional pepper information that might be helpful for you, no matter which type of peppers you are growing:
- Fertilize your peppers once every two weeks with a fish emulsion/nitrogen-rich fertilizer. On the alternate week, fertilizer your peppers once with a mixture of 1 tsp. of epsom salts per 4 cups of warm water. This gives your peppers their needed magnesium, which helps them produce more (and healthier) fruit.
- You might need a tomato cage or stakes for your pepper plants, depending on your chosen variety. Pepper branches are brittle, so support is necessary if you want a full crop.
- The hotter your weather, the hotter your peppers will become (again, depending on the variety). Also, did you know that you can have a huge range of hot to mild peppers from the same plant?! This is especially true with jalapenos.
- With hot varieties, make sure to wear gloves even when harvesting them from the branches. Even the leaves of hot peppers can burn your skin or your eyes.
- Peppers are, in theory, perennials. They die because of frost and cold soil temperatures. If you grow them in a greenhouse or in containers that you bring in during cold seasons, you could have peppers all year long! Yum!
- The worst dilemma for pepper-loving gardeners is that if you leave peppers on the plant until they are fully ripe, you will have the best tasting peppers ever. However, if you do that, you will get very few peppers per plant. If you pick them early, you will get tons and tons and tons of peppers in your season. The best solution to this problem is simply to plant at least two plants of each variety so that you can use one plant for ripened ones and one plant for huge yields.
And now, here is some information on a huge variety of peppers that I am growing this year. If anyone is growing a different type, please let me know so that I can add new ones to my research and my garden in future years! 🙂
1) Sweet Bell Peppers
a) Classic Green “Californian Wonder” Peppers:
**This large, thick walled, juicy, sweet pepper is one of the most popular. 4 inch green peppers turn bright red at maturity.
**This is your typical green pepper that you can leave on the branch until red for a sweeter pepper.
b) Big Bertha Bell Peppers:
**These are the largest bell pepper variety at this time (seven inches long).
**They also mature from green to red, most people eat them when they are green.
**They are one of the most disease-resistant types of peppers, so they are very easy to grow for first-timers!
**There are not many seeds in them, so it is the easiest pepper to use for quick cooking or simply slice and enjoy!
**Not only are these one of the biggest peppers, but one plant can produce up to 12 pounds of peppers!
c) Golden Californian Bell Peppers:
**Very sweet when fully ripened.
**You can eat them at any time, they start out green and turn yellow as they ripen.
d) Orange Sweet Bell Peppers:
**This is the sweetest of the bell peppers, and a hybrid.
**They ripen from green to bright orange, and you can eat them at any time in their color change.
**They are very low maintenance.
**They are wonderful in salsas and stir-fries due to their unique sweetness.
2) Mexi-bell hot peppers
**These are a hybrid pepper plant that combine bell peppers with hot pepper varieties. What you get is a bell pepper with a kick of spice. This kick of spice ranges from super hot to just slightly warm, depending on how hot your weather gets.
**The Scoville range (heat index for peppers) for these beauties is anywhere from 100-1000 Scoville units.
**They mature from green to red. The more ripe (aka red), the hotter they will be.
**These are smaller plants, only getting as tall as 1.79 feet.
3) Poblano hot peppers
**These are a favorite of mine, as they are amazing when stuffed with gooey cheese!
**They have a mild heat, with a Scoville range of 1000-2000 Scoville units. It’s heat is between banana peppers and jalapenos.
**When they are dried, they get spicier and are then called ‘Ancho‘ peppers.
**These plants develop slower than other varieties. Have patience! They will catch up!
**Harvest at anytime when they are green through red. They look like large, wrinkled bell peppers and the red ones are hotter.
**They are great in salsas, stuffed, sauteed, in chili, and they are the most used pepper in ‘mole‘ sauces.
4) Jalapeno hot peppers
**These are my ultimate favorite pepper. I use them in at least one recipe every week. Yum yum yum!
**A normal jalapeno-loving household will be happy with 3 plants. Of course, I am growing 6… 🙂
**They are in the low-middle Scoville range of anywhere betweeen 2500-8000 Scoville units.
**They are high yielding plants and have a high disease resistance.
**If you dry them and then smoke them, they are then called ‘Chipotle‘ peppers.
**They are ready to eat when they are green, but if you leave them until they are red, they will be sweeter.
**Red ones are the best for drying.
5) Serrano hot peppers
**These are hotter than jalapenos, with a Scoville range of 10,000-23,000 Scoville units.
**They grow to 2-5 feet tall and each plant can give you up to 50 peppers.
**They start out green and you can eat them then. If left on the vine, they turn to various colors including reds, yellows, oranges, and browns. The longer you leave them on the branch, the sweeter they will become (though it will still hold some heat as well)
**You can lower the heat by removing both the seeds and the white membrane (do this with gloves, of course).
**If you are drying them, wait until they fully ripen.
**They are amazing in salsa and chili.
6) Habanero hot peppers
**These beauties are 100 times hotter than jalapenos. They range from 100,000-350,000 Scoville units. Hot hot hot!!
**These can be very, very tall plants, averaging from 3-5 feet high, and sometimes as high as 7 feet! Plant them in full sun but also in a way that they do not block the sun of other plants. They will most likely need staking.
**They start out green, but you do NOT eat them until they are bright orange.
**They are beautiful plants, often used for ornamental purposes as well as eating. Also, one plant can give you up to 200 peppers! Of course, I did not know that until I had planted two of them. 🙂 Habaneros, anyone?
**You can experiment with their heat: if you purposely stress them (only give them water once a week), they will create more capsacin (heat). If you give them more water (but don’t drown them!), they will be milder.
**I adore mango-habanero salsa. The sweet-hot combination is so good!
Lots and lots of habaneros!
7) Cayenne hot peppers (for drying)
**Cayenne pepper is one of my favorite spices, so I am growing some of these to fill up my spice cupboard.
**They have a Scoville range of 30,000-50,000 units.
**They are long, skinny pods and need to be picked only when they are fully ripened, which is when they are red.
**The plants grow 2-3 feet high and give you about 20-30 peppers per plant.
**Coming in the fall: directions for drying them!
8) Charleston hot peppers
**These are a cayenne hybrid that is more resistant to root-knot nematodes than Cayenne peppers.
**They have more than twice the amount of heat than cayenne peppers, with a Scoville range of 100,000-125,000 Scoville units.
**While I am focusing mainly on their use in drying as a spice, you can also use them in salsas and pickling.
**They are short, compact plants of only 1.49 feet tall. Also, their foilage is unique in that it is more yellow than the dark green leaves of most pepper plants. Do NOT think it is a nitrogen deficiency and overload them on fish emulsion!
**You can harvest them at any time. They start out yellow, then turn orange, then red. I have not been able to discover if they get spicier or sweeter as they ripen. I will have to experiment. 🙂
9) Paprika pepper (for drying)
**I adore paprika. I use this wonderful spice in almost all of my soups, chilies, and mexican meals. The smokier the paprika, the better! 🙂 I can’t wait to grow this!
**These peppers are round, thick-walled sweet peppers with a kick of heat/warmth.
**They start out white, then turn orange, then end up red. Only pick the mature red ones.
**You get the spice from grinding the dried peppers. There are different types of paprika (including hungarian and alma). I am starting with alma paprika. Hungarian will be next year. I will find out the difference and let you know! Also, drying instructions will appear in the fall!
**Supposedly, you can eat these fresh. I did not know this and I am eager to try one and let you know what it tastes like and how to use them.
So there you have it. My overly-ambitious pepper garden. Besides salsa and chili, I would LOVE some good pepper recipes! Also, don’t forget to send me any advice on other peppers to try out in the future! And I always love any questions and comments! 🙂
Take a stroll down the produce aisle at your local grocery store and you will quickly notice that peppers have grown in popularity. No longer are we stuck settling for just the so-called “Traffic Light” varieties – those green, red and yellow bell peppers that seemed to be about the only choices we had growing up.
Peppers are now grown in hundreds of different sizes, shapes and colors – all with their own unique taste. Whether you prefer sweet peppers, savory peppers, mild peppers, ornamental peppers or our personal favorite, hot peppers – you can add beauty and taste to your garden and landscape by planting your own this year.
We devote a large part of our garden to growing peppers – and with good reason! We use them fresh on sandwiches, in salads, salsa and soups – or simply to eat on a veggie plate. Add to the mix stuffed peppers, grilled peppers and tasty appetizers – and you can make quite a few tasty meals from the humble pepper. And that’s just on the fresh side! We dry many of our excess peppers to also use in our hot and spicy tomato juice, ground hot pepper flakes, chili powder, and dried chipotle peppers that we make each fall.
Here are some tips on planting and growing all kinds of peppers – along with the low down on a handful of our favorite varieties that we grow:
Almost all peppers have the same requirements for successful growth. Plant them in good, well-drained, fertile soil – and make sure they get lots of sunlight and a good inch of water per week. In many ways, they mimic the same requirements needed for growing great tomatoes.
At Planting Time:
We plant all of our peppers with a good shovel full of compost in the planting hole, and then give them a good dose of compost tea every few weeks for the first 6 weeks of growth. We also mulch around each of our pepper plants with a good 1 to 2″ thick layer of compost.
We all spend time and resources setting up cages and stakes for our tomatoes – why not peppers? Peppers need some support too! We actually use a smaller version of our stake-a-cage method to support our peppers and keep them upright and growing strong. No matter what you use – provide some support for the plants and peppers to grow strong.
Don’t be afraid to cut back a wayward branch. We prune off the bottom foliage from our pepper plants to allow a little light into the plant and to keep pests at bay. Peppers are notorious for breaking off if a branch becomes weighty or too full of peppers. So don’t be afraid to prune a little to keep them growing strong.
Pick Those Peppers!
To keep your plants producing all season long – keep them picked! Pepper plants will continue to produce new peppers as long as you keep the stocks picked. The more tasty veggies you pluck from the plant – the more the plant will continue to spend its energy making more.
Our Favorite Garden Peppers:
Besides the workhorse green bell pepper – here are some of our favorite varieties that we plant, along with some tips on how we use them in the kitchen:
Marconi Pepper – This quickly became one of our favorites last year for grilling and stuffing. It is considered an Italian sweet-style pepper – and therefore no need to worry about the heat with this one. It has fantastic flavor and the heart meaty thick walls stand up well to grilling and baking. It was a big producer in our garden last year – and we picked them both green and red with good results in the kitchen. These will definitely need to be staked – as the peppers grow big and heavy. With their sweeter flavor – they are actually delicious to just slice up and serve on a vegetable tray as well.
Italian Roaster – If you were to make a hotter version of the Giant Marconi – then the Italian Roaster would be it! A really thick-walled and tasty pepper, they seem to get much hotter when left to turn red on the vine. The green ones are delicious and still pack a little heat – but as they turned red in our garden – we definitely noticed a turn up in the heat! This is another variety that you will definitely want to provide support for. We grew them for the first time last year, and the plant produced well all year long, and the peppers became very heavy on the branches.
Cajun Belle – The Cajun Belle is the ultimate pepper to have if you love the combination of sweet with heat. They average about 2″ in size, and have a seed core that is easy to remove. They make an incredible stuffed appetizer, are great to chop up in salads and salsa or chili, or to use on a sandwich. An added benefit of the Cajun Belle – they freeze really well and are great to pull out for use during those cold winter months. The plants are absolutely beautiful in the garden or landscape – filling up with 50 or more brightly colored peppers ranging from green to orange to bright red when fully ripe.
The Cajun Belle Pepper
Hungarian Sweet Wax Peppers – These are a massive producer of 4 to 6″ long sweet peppers. Peppers will turn from light yellow to a deeper red and even orange when they mature. They are amazing on salads, sandwiches, and do well as a grilled sliced pepper for brats. The plants themselves grow to around 24″ in height. We grow both a sweet variety and the hot yellow wax pepper to use in Mary’s hot pepper mustard.
Hungarian Wax Pepper
Mini Belle Peppers – These plants will grow to be about 18″ to 24″ high and are covered in tons of 1″ to 2″ mini bell peppers at a time. They have a super small seed core that is easy to remove, and are perfect for salads and salsa. This is also one of our favorite peppers to use for making great appetizers. We use a good spicy sausage and cream cheese stuffing that makes for an incredible paring with the sweet taste of the peppers. They look great in the landscape too as an accent plant – adding a splash of color wherever you put them.
Sweet Mini Bell Peppers
Mariachi Pepper – Another sweet-heat type pepper that almost has a fruity taste to it. I would classify this pepper more as a sweet and fruity pepper than as a hot pepper. It turns from green to yellow to red – and can be picked at the yellow or red stage with the same great flavor. The plants are about 24 to 30″ in height and stay strong all year – producing peppers as long as you keep picking. Great in salads and salsa, or a sandwich – and perfect to grill or stuff. We also dried some last year and added to our own mixture of dry spice. If they are well watered and it is a cool summer – they tend to be more on the mild side. With less water and more sun and heat – they turn out with a little more kick! Another one to support with a stake or cage.
Poinsettia Peppers – These are actually classified as an ornamental pepper – but they have a fiery hot taste and look great in the landscape or garden. Poinsettia peppers grow to about 16 to 24″ tall – with the pods coming on in late June. Each plant is covered in hundreds of the pepper pods. They start out as an ordinary slim green pepper – and then turn to an incredible fiery deep red from early August until well after the first frost. They are a tasty little pepper that can be added to stir fry to give off some deep heat – or you can put them in olive oil to have hot pepper oil. Poinsettia peppers are another easy seed to save and require little maintenance
Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary
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ALL ABOUT PEPPERS…How To Grow All Kinds Of Garden Peppers Tagged on: Cajun Belle Pepper Compost green peppers growing peppers hot peppers Italian roaster pepper marconi pepper ornamental pepper peppers