Saturday, October 23, 2010

Harvesting Chili Peppers by Heirloom Fan

This time of year, you can find many of the Farmer’s Markets and farm stores roasting chili peppers. The fragrance of these peppers is irresistible.
Chili Peppers are fairly easy to grow. They are a member of the nightshade family, which includes tomatoes and eggplant, so some of the same growing conditions as well as the diseases for that family apply. I found good luck in growing peppers in containers – it not only helps contain the plant but the pots generally can give additional warmth to the roots that peppers like.

There are a wide variety of peppers available to the home gardener. To choose the right one for your taste and cooking, read the seed catalog or the plant marker description carefully. Some will give you important information as to the heat level of the pepper, which is marked in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The scale numbers tell you which are mild to hot, so if you like hot peppers then you will want to choose a variety with a high SHU rating.
At this time of year, peppers begin to ripen from their typical green color to shades of red, orange, yellow and even brown. Many people who like cooking with chilies wait for them to reach this stage which often gives a deeper dimension to their flavors and it also adds color to your food presentation.
There are many ways to preserve your peppers. For the thin skin varieties such as Cayenne peppers, these air dry or dry easily in a dehydrator, and can be then stored in an air tight container for long periods of time. If you enjoy canning, there are many canning recipes available as well both in books and on the internet.
Hope that you enjoy harvesting and preserving your pepper crop and will try new types.