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Dave's Fiery Front Page

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

What a Harvest!

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: gardening , chile peppers

It must be all that summer sunlight in Finland!  Ultimate chilehead Jukka Kilpinnen shows off his amazing harvest.  Jukka, as you may remember, is the gardener who perfected the technique of bonsai chiles.  Check out his website, here, or email him, here.

Amazing Ornamentals

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Marco Budinis reports from Parma, Italy.  It was field day at Azienda Agraria Sperimentale (Agricultural Experiment Station), and ornamental chile breeder Mario Dadomo was showing off the largest collection of ornamental chiles, or peperoncini, as he calls them, ever assembled.  At left is a beautiful chile heart.



Here is the field:

 And a nice basket of ornamentals:

It's been more than five years now that an Indian "Mystery Chile" was making headlines, and claims for such a "new" variety were published in print, and all over the Internet. With almost one million Scoville Units, it was supposed to be several times hotter than the Red SavinaTM, the current holder of that title in the Guinness World Records. Time and again the hot pod popped up in the news, yet no one in the Western world had seen it. That has changed recently, as new claims for such a potent pepper came from the UK, and also from the renowned Chile Pepper Institute of the New Mexico State University.  Read the entire story, by Harald Zoschke, here.

CPI Demo Garden

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Here is a partial view of the 2008 Chile Pepper Institute Demonstration Garden at NMSU in Las Cruces.  Every year, CPI plants 150-200 varieties of chiles to  educate visiting students, children, and  scientists. The Institute also sells seed of many of these varieties, including the super-hot 'Bhut Jolokia' at one million Scoville Heat Units.  Visit CPI here.

Why Chiles Conquered America

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: history , fiery foods , chile peppers

I am constantly asked to explain the exponential growth of interest in chile peppers and the boom in fiery foods products in the U.S. over the past two decades. How did a meat and potatoes America become enamored of hot sauces, salsas, spicy snack food, chili con carne, and hundreds and hundreds of other fiery foods? First, we must look at the historical trends for why cooks add spices to their foods in the first place.  The article is here.

Map of North America, 1641

New Hot Poster Shop!

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

In cooperation with Allposters.com, I have assembled a collection of excellent posters covering chile peppers, fiery foods, beverages, and more.  The image on the left is titled "Three Chili Peppers," by artist Will Rafuse.  Curiously, I did not find any BBQ posters that I liked, so they will have to be added sometime in the future.  These posters and prints make great kitchen decorations, and since a certain important holiday--I forget the name--is looming in the near future, be sure to check out the SuperSite's Hot Poster Shop, here.

Why Cooks Spice Up Their Foods

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: science , history , chile peppers

 There are a number of explanations for why we have added spices such as chile peppers to our foods over the tens or hundreds of thousands of years that we have been cooking. They are:

--Spices make foods taste better.

--The "eat-to-sweat hypothesis"-eating spicy foods makes us cool down during hot weather.

--To disguise the taste of spoiled food.

--Spices add nutritional value to food.

--The antimicrobial hypothesis: spices kill harmful bacteria in food and aid in food preservation.

Which of these explanations are correct?  Read my article about it, here.



New NuMex Varieties from NMSU

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Dr. Paul Bosland of the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at NMSU and director of the Chile Pepper Institute, has announced the release of two new chile pepper cultivars, 'NuMex 6-4 Heritage' and 'NuMex Big Jim Heritage'.  The project was the result of observations from farmers that these two varieties were losing flavor and yield.  Beginning with seeds from the original '6-4' and 'Big Jim' varieties that had been in cryrogenic storage for more that 40 years, Paul grew out the old seeds and selected the best pods for the following year's planting.  This went on for 10 years! Finally, this year, a large field was planted that will result in seeds for farmers for next year's crop.  They will be available for farmers in January, 2009 and for home gardeners from the Chile Pepper Institute.  The research and work NMSU resulted in numerous improvements that include 20 percent more flavor compounds than the old Big Jim and 6-4 varieties, and will produce a better yield for farmers.  Pictured above is a basket of 'NuMex 6-4 Heritage'. Incidentally, in September, 2009 Timber Press will publish Paul's and my new book, The Complete Chile Pepper Book, with 240 color photos, many by our European editor, Harald Zoschke.

Here's a unique way to preserve pods from the garden.  Harald Zoschke, our European editor, notes:  "Candying is one of the most ancient forms of preserving the harvest--the ancient Egyptians preserved nuts and fruits with honey. Like spices, candied fruit like wild oranges, melons and apricots, were brought to Europe by traders from the Middle East and China in the Early Middle Ages. Until sugar was introduced during the Crusades, honey and palm syrup were used, later replaced mostly by sugar-based syrup. The technique is the same, though--by placing fruit in syrup with gradually increased sugar content, their cell liquid is getting replaced by sugar."  Read the entire story and learn how to candy chile pods, here.

Fresh Pimientos de Padron

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Use the Promo Code pad25 to receive a 20 percent discount!Pimientos de Padron are amazingly tasty, tiny peppers from a medieval town in Galicia, northwest Spain. People flock to tapas bars of the neighboring pilgrimage town of Santiago de Compostela to savor a plateful of these unique peppers that are lightly seared in olive oil, and then sprinkled with sea salt. Their fame has spread throughout the rest of Spain - and now to America! What makes these little Padron peppers unique is that randomly you will pop a spicy one in your mouth! Since there is no way to distinguish the one from the rest which are sweet, you never know when you will get a surprise! A New York Times writer calls the experience "Spanish Roulette!"  We in Virginia are on the same latitude as the village of Padron, so we asked a local farmer if he could recreate this treat by planting imported seeds. His effort has been a total success. The pepper plants grown in the rich Virginia soil are identical to those grown on the parallel Atlantic shore - in the Rias of Galicia! Every couple of days during the growing season here in Virginia, our farmer hand-picks these small, crisp peppers. Following the tradition of the farmers of the village of Padron, he selects only the small young peppers, because the larger, more mature peppers are always hot. The following morning we receive these fresh peppers and send them on to you! Because these peppers are a farm crop, supplies are dependent upon the weather. If there is an unusually small harvest on a certain day we may ship your order a day or two later when the next peppers are picked. Of course, we will inform you should there be any delay. --from La Tienda, the mail-order Spanish food store.

- 1 pound, 100 peppers in a plastic carton
- Delicious lightly sauteed in olive oil
- Grown from true Padron pepper seeds from Spain

Order HERE.



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