Easy to grow, peppers come in a wide variety

Easy to grow, peppers come in a wide variety

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Peter and the rest of us have made peppers the second most popular veggie in the world, second only to the venerable tomato. There is just such a world of colors, shapes and flavors among peppers. Some of us like the sweet while some like the spicy while others like to grow those they can pickle. Grow your own and you can choose just what you want.

You can just guess the heat of a pepper or use the tried and true Scoville scale of pepper heat. Pepper heat is measured on his scale in heat units. The hottest peppers have the highest numbers in the Scoville scale. In 1912, Wilbur Scoville worked with peppers in the first lab approach to measure heat in peppers, according to Bonnie Plants’ interesting website. People were brought in to sample and rate each pepper’s heat level and then the samples were diluted in the lab until the tasters no longer detected heat. The ranges are Mild (100-2,500), Medium (2,500-30,000), Hot (30,000-100,000) and Extra Hot (100,000-300,000 plus). A few examples to give you a frame of reference: habañero is extra hot, Tabasco is hot, cayenne is hot, jalapeño is medium, and poblano is mild.

Plant genetics determine the pepper heat levels, as does where the pepper is grown. Hot peppers grow hottest during a drought and with super high temperatures. The longer the pepper stays on the vine, the more heat is developed. Pepper breeders are constantly trying to develop “The World’s Hottest Pepper.” The hottest record holder as of now is a pepper from India called Bhut Jolokia. Its Scoville rating is 855,000-1,3000,000!

It’s not hard to grow your own peppers in the ground in your backyard or in containers as long as the location is sunny. Plant little seedlings into loosened soil so that the top of their root ball is level with the ground surface. Mulch and sprinkle with fertilizer and water regularly for the first few weeks. Consider planting a few “hots,” a few “sweets” and some in between. You can plant most peppers right now from tiny plants or seed.

Chile-Cucumber Chow-Chow recipe

Add 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup lemon fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt into large saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add 1 peeled, diced cucumber and 2 chopped bell peppers (any color). Add 1 cup of diced banana peppers (or any pepper you like the best). Simmer mixture on very low heat for a few more minutes to heat peppers, then let mixture sit for a minimum of 30 minutes. Stir in a teaspoon of chopped basil. This delicious mixture can be stored a month in the refrigerator and used on tacos, grilled meats, over beans or in soups.