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Dave's Fiery Front Page

Exploring the World of Spice and Smoke
Tags >> chile peppers

 

Habanero Chile

On June 4, 2010, the states of Yucatán, Campeche and Quintana Roo were awarded a Denominación de Origen for the habanero variety of chile pepper by The Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) of the Ministry of Economy. Thus the habanero joins the ranks of the Espelette chile of France and the smoked paprika of Spain, Pimentón de la Vera, as the only pepper products to win the same protection as Champagne, Parmesan cheese, and Dijon mustard. In Mexico, this means that if a manufacturer wants to use the word “habanero” for his product, it must contain habaneros made in these three states and nowhere else. If the pods were grown in Chiapas, the manufacturer cannout use the word “habanero” in the product's name or description. But what does this mean for U.S. manufacturers? Not much, especially considering all the “Parmesan” cheese sold in this country that is not made in the region of Parma, Italy. Yes, Champagne is protected in the U.S., where similar products must be called sparkling wine. But the spirits industry in the U.S. is highly regulated by the federal government while the cheese industry is not. So look for little change in fiery foods products in the U.S. The E.U. is another story, and I have sent this information to Harald Zoschke in Germany for his opinion.


Bonnie PlantsBonnie Plants, with 62 greenhouse production facilities, 450 sales reps, and 13,000 retail accounts offering vegetable, herb, and flower plants, seems to be the largest bedding plant supplier in the country.  You see their plants in big box stores like Lowe's and Wal-Mart, but also in some local nurseries and supermarkets.  Today I spoke with Chuck at Agra Greenhouses in the South Valley of Albuquerque and asked him why his chile pepper bedding plants were one-fourth the cost of the Bonnie Plants at nearby Wal-Mart.  "It's their business model," he replied.  They grow bazillions of bedding plants and their commissioned sales rep/drivers deliver them on consignment to all the locations, and Bonnie only gets paid when the plants are scanned at the retailer.  The leftover, unsold plants are thrown in the trash.  Maybe they trash 80 percent of what they grow, Chuck explained, and this, of course is why their prices are so high.  But they are convenient and the plants have grown well in my garden and produced well. After many years of doing this, I've figured out the best ways to acquire bedding plants.  The following list describes the methods from cheapest to most expensive.
--buy seeds and grow your own.
--buy bedding plants from local nurseries supplied by local greenhouses.
--buy bedding plants from big box stores.
Of course, if you're looking exotic chile plants, price is no object and you should definitely consider Cross Country Nurseries and their wonderful 500-variety bedding plant mail-order program, here.

 

 


Focus on Pepper Pod Yield

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: gardening , chile peppers

Capsicum FlowersIf you have pepper plants growing in your garden, I assume that you're interested in maximizing the number of pods on each plant. Well, there are a number of factors involved in this process, including: fertilizing, weed control, flowering and pollination, fruiting, and avoiding reaching the fruit load.  Fortunately, we have a complete article on this subject, here.


Ghost Face Killah Beer

Why brew a beer so hot that it melts taste buds and brings tears to drinkers’ eyes? To do something different. In a world full of pilsners, pale ales and porters, thinking a little outside of the box keeps things exciting at Twisted Pine Brewery. “Ghost Face Killah” ghost chile beer packs the heat of six different chiles, including anaheim (New Mexican), fresno, jalapeño, serrano, habanero and the infamous ghost chile (Bhut Jolokia). The beer will be released at the Snowmass Chili and Beer Festival, June 4-5.

At a staggering 1,000,000 Scoville heat units, the ghost chile pepper is twice as hot as the nearest Red Savina pepper.  This has earned the Bhut Jolokia certification as the hottest chile pepper in the world by the Guiness World Records.

Based in Boulder, Colorado, Twisted Pine Brewing Company has been handcrafting beer since 1995. Read more about their other unique brews here.


May is National Salsa Month!

Posted by: Lois Manno

Tagged in: fiery foods , chile peppers

 

SalsaMay ain't just for barbecue. It just so happens that it's also National Salsa Month. Many of these "official" food celebration months exist, and you can find exhaustive lists online, but some seem to be more authentic than others...the most "official" began as presidential proclamations or were created by Congress. More sketchy designations seem to have originated from well-timed press releases that somehow became popularly accepted. National Salsa Month appears on the USDA's website, so I guess that makes it official from a government point of view. According to The Teacher's Calendar, National Salsa Month was established to recognize salsa as America's Favorite Condiment. Picante Sauce was invented in 1947 by David Pace of Texas company Pace Foods. Cinco de Mayo, another important May holiday, is a perfect excuse to eat salsa...anybody's salsa! Here's our take on Making Traditional Salsas from Scratch.


Buying chile pepper bedding plants.On Sunday, May 9, Marco and I worked the chile plant sale and food fair at the Azienda Agraria Sperimentale Stuard (Stuard Agricultural Experiment Station) in Parma with his new products, Spirit of Habanero Grappa and the Habanero Nectar olive oil.  Mario Dadomo, the station director and the “Paul Bosland of Italy” had 442 different varieties of chiles to choose from, which was like having ChilePlants.com in one convenient greenhouse.  Mario asked me if he could be my "bishop"--har, har.  Marco and MauritzioThe public was there in good numbers to buy the plants and sample products both spicy and non-spicy.  A group of about 30 Italian chileheads showed up and I had my picture taken with them.  On one side of us was a honey producer and on the other side our friend Mauritzio was selling his jolokia products including the “Big Bang Powder,” so Marco joked that the public could choose from Paradiso (Heaven), Purgatorio (Purgatory), or Inferno (Hell).  This was an allusion to Dante’s Divine Comedy but I’m not sure that the Italians got the literary joke.  As a show producer, it was interesting for me to watch the flow of the crowd: in the morning there was a strong crowd then in dropped off to nothing during lunch and “siesta time,” and then was strong again after about 3pm.  Marco’s sales were good, which bodes well for the new products.  We closed down about 6pm, then drove to a winery with nearly vertical vineyards atop Monte Roma (Mount Rome), 350 meters above sea level.  Then, in typical Italian fashion, another 30-mile drive to dinner at an AgriTurismo (agricultural tourism) restaurant atop another “mountain.”  I loved the grilled sirloin steak served on top of a solid block of salt.  We got back to Marco’s house at midnight—16 hours of  hustle--but fun!

Mauritzio's Italian Jolokia Products


James BeckIt's "Fiery Foods Show or Bust" as James Beck and his cohorts drive the Spicy RV from Houston to Albuquerque.  Spicy RV’s first Friday night we descended upon Chunky’s Burgers in San Antonio, Texas. It would be safe to say Chunky’s was catapulted to national fame when Adam Richman from The Travel Channel’s Man vs Food took up the Four Horsemen challenge. James Beck of EatMoreHeat had to throw his hat into the ring and see what this burger was all about.


The Four Horsemen burger is ludicrous....

The story continues here.


'Piment Bouk' ChilesEditor's Note:  Our company, Sunbelt Shows, Inc. is joining forces with Bel Soley, Inc. to assist in rebuilding the Haitian economy.  I am urging my readers to contact Brian and render any assistance to this project that you can.

Brian Hays writes: I am the Chairman of Bel Soley, which is a company dedicated to development in Haiti by building for-profit enterprises for the sale of agricultural products domestically and for export. See www.belsoley.com. We have a U.S. distribution company based in Boston and a Haitian subsidiary that operates primarily in the southern part of the country (Les Cayes), with a country manager located in Port au Prince. [He and his family are OK.] We grow some of our own crops and buy other crops from small farmers. We started exporting mangos, breadfruit and hot peppers last year and were just ramping up our pepper exports when the earthquake hit. We are producing several thousand pounds of peppers a week now. Our hot peppers are habaneros from imported seed and the local hot pepper, a habanero variety called 'Piment Bouk'. Our target was to get to ship out 24,000 pounds per month by the end of the year. As you can imagine, all exports from the country have stopped for now. Port au Prince is the only real port of debarkation in Haiti. With the government destroyed and transportation over-burdened, we do not know when we can begin shipping again - although we are optimistic.
Haiti Pepper PlantationWe are selling our crops locally, but the current regional market is questionable and we don't know if the market can absorb the volume. Domestic distribution beyond the immediate locale is doubtful. Furthermore, our business model is based on export income. So you can see the problem.

It has always been part of our business plan to make a good quality and truly uniquely Haitian pepper sauce.  All the pepper sauce sold in Haiti now is either Tabasco or Louisiana Hot Sauce. We know there is a good domestic market and with something different and of good quality, there should be an export market as well. But our plan was to move into pepper sauce later this year, after our fresh pepper export business was better established. Because of the earthquake, we would like to accelerate our move into the sauce business. By making sauce or mash from the peppers, we will be able to save our crops and also begin to provide edible foodstuffs to the domestic market, which is already showing signs of food shortages. As I mentioned, mangos, papayas, bananas and pineapples are readily available as a base and we can easily grow carrots. We have or can grow a range of more exotic tropical fruits as well, including passion fruit, soursop, sapote, acerola (Barbados Cherry), tamarind and more as flavorings.

Depending on the cost, we believe that we have adequate capital to set up the hot sauce operation, including bottling.We think we have found away to import equipment into the country (by by-passing Port au Prince). What we we don't have is information and expertise. Starting a business is difficult in the best of circumstances (I know, have started quite a few), but in this chaotic environment where we know next to nothing about the new business, the only way we can off-set the risk is with good advice and good partners.

* We need recommendations of experts in the business that can advise us on the sauce making process, the bottling process and any other practical, basic opertaions;
* We need recommendations of experts in food safety (we intend to meet all HACCP requirements - not only to allay fears about products from Haiti, but because it is the right way to do things);
* We need recommendations of reliable, honest equipment vendors who will provide the right equipment - not too much or too little - and collateral expertise in setting up and operations.
* We need recommendations of US (or EU) importers of pepper sauce (and fresh peppers too, since we will be back in that business).
* Any other ideas, suggestions or sources of information would be also be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again for your time and willingness to help. We hope to turn a bad situation into something good. If we can get this done, we will have a few new, exotic pepper sauces from the fiery country of Haiti!

Brian

Brian J. Hays
Chairman, Bel Soley, Inc
703-421-9211 - home office
703-217-6251 - mobile


Habanero Nectar, Part 1

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Olives and HabanerosMy friend Marco del Freo, who lives in northern Italy, is embarking on a fascinating adventure.  Marco, who owns vineyards, a winery, and olive trees, also grows chile peppers (peperoncini in Italy) and he is now making a habanero-infused extra-virgin olive oil by pressing the habaneros with the olives.  Since any olive oil that's infused with any other substance can't be legally called olive oil, he has decided to call it Habanero Nectar.  In anticipation of assisting him in importing it, I have formed a division of my company called Sunbelt Food Reps.  More on that soon, but here's the process.  At left are the olives in the background and the habaneros in the foreground.


 

Olives and 'Fatalii'

They are mixed together (he uses both red habs and 'Fatalii') and ready for the pressing.

On the Conveyor Belt

On a conveyor belt and headed toward the press.

The Habanero Nectar

The final result after pressing.  To be continued....


Audubon's American TurkeyThanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday of the year.  Reasons?  There's no baggage associated with it, like religion, gift-giving, or dressing-up.  And it has all the things I love most about a holiday: family, good friends, food, drink, and football.  So, the feasting team here at the SuperSite is serving up the following Thanksgiving articles with recipes:


A Barbecued Thanksgiving, here.
Spiced-Up Thanksgiving Trimmings, here.
Holiday Sizzling Stuffings and Leftovers, here.
A Chile Lover's Mexican Thanksgiving, here.


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