Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pepperocini Peppers

Pepperocini Peppers
 I've tried Cherry peppers, jalapeno peppers, Anaheim peppers, and now pepperocini to find one that is a match for my taste. I don't like alot of heat. I think it masks flavor. I'd prefer a touch of heat with lots of taste. A snip off the end of one of my pepperocini peppers gives me great hopes. I've not had time to fully explore this pepper but more than any other pepper I've grown so far, I'm excited to see where they take me.

What tripped my interest was this information I found out about them. Pepperocini peppers are also called Tuscan peppers, sweet Italian peppers, or golden Greek peppers. They are sweet and mild in flavor, not very hot although they can vary and be found up to a medium heat level.

The Greek varieties are sweeter and less bitter than the Italian varieties grown in Tuscany so I of course want the Greek kind.

 I started some seed under grow lights early this spring and the plants in the garden are doing very well. Lots and lots of peppers on each plant. For reasons unknown to me, I grow hot peppers quite well but bell, yeah, I've got problems. They are the peppers I'd really like to produce in large numbers. Alas, it's a uphill battle.
With quite a few needing something done with them and little time to do it, I decided to settle on a simple canning recipe that I could do tonight in a hurry.

Pickled Pepperoncini's
Pickled Pepperoncini Peppers
1. In a saucepan, heat to boiling a mix of 1 part water and 3 parts distilled white vinegar
2. Heat canning jars in the oven at 180-200°F
3. Prick or slash peppers
4. Pack peppers into hot jars with pieces on onion The Greek varieties are sweeter and less bitter than the Italian varieties grown in Tuscany
5. Cover with the vinegar/water mix
6. Seal and process in hot water bath for 15 minutes

This leaves my possibilities wide open for their use. I'm told they are used in sandwiches, salads, pizza, antipasto, and garnish but hey, why not chili too. My imagination is going wild after just a little taste from the end of one pepper.

One thing I do know is I definitely want the Greek variety since they are sweeter and less bitter than the Italian growing Tuscany.

But it isn't just the type of pepper you choose that determines the heat volume. Yes, genetics play a big factor but you can also change the need for a tall glass of milk by changing the growing conditions of the plants. In particular, temperature, moisture, and soil fertility.  

This is what I found out about that on the Internet but it is not surprising as I've found out the same holds true for radishes. 

The development of capsaicin has its roots in the soil and air temperatures. The higher the temperature the more capsaicin the plant will make. Clay soil stays colder than light ones and that is what I have, so if I wanted heat, I'd want good drainage and as much sun as possible. Growing the peppers in containers, particularly black ones, adds heat too but you need to make sure the sun hits the containers not just the plants. To raise the air temperature, think of growing them in a greenhouse or not if you want mild ones like me.  

Any plant will develop more of its flavor chemicals when it's grown slightly on the dry side. Hot peppers are no exception. After the plant sets fruit, allow it to dry out a little between waterings, just to the point of slight wilting. Do not allow the plant to go into a full wilt, or it may drop its fruit and any new flowers. So I've made sure my plants have had lots and lots of water to keep that capsaicin from developing.

The amount of fertilizer makes a difference too. A little boost when the plant is young is beneficial but not when the plant reaches full size and blossoms form. Though fertilizer will grow more peppers and larger ones it won't help in the production of capsaicin. You want your plants to be slightly hungry. So where do lots of peppers grow, in lean desert soils. Where am I growing them, in the cool north. Yup, my Anaheim and my jalapeno peppers were for milder also and I helped them along by giving them lots of water. No hot hot peppers for this gal.

What exactly I think about this new pepper I'll let you know in a few weeks when I've given a serious try but I can tell you about some other field trials I've had if only this post weren't long already. I'll just have to save that tid bit for another time.

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