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

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.

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


Cross Country logo

I spoke over the weekend with Janie Lamson, owner of Cross Country Nurseries and chileplants.com, the largest seller of chile bedding plants with 500 varieties.  She told me about her best-selling varieties from last year, and of them are in the species Capsicum chinense, which has the hottest varieties in the world.  She also told me that her tomato bedding plant sales grew 37%, which doesn't surprise me since chilehead gardeners also also love tomatoes, since they are so compatible in cooking.  Here are Janie's top 5 best sellers.  Order these varieties for April delivery at the link above.

'Bhut Jolokia'
1. 'Bhut Jolokia'
'Red Savina'
2. 'Red Savina'
'Trinidad Scorpion'
3. 'Trinidad Scorpion'
4. 'Fatalii'
'Chocolate Habanero'
5. 'Chocolate Habanero'


Rare 'Trinidad Scorpions'

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: gardening , chile varieties


Trinidad Scorpions on a pepper plate.Hydroponic Grower Jim Duffy reports from San Diego: "Well I have to say, Dave, that my 'Trinidad Scorpion' crop was not the amount I wanted to produce. But sometimes you have to look at the silver lining. The 'Trinidad Scorpion' is a rare chile all by itself. Very few supply seeds and only this year did more than just a few people grow it here in the good old U.S.A. So when one of my potted plants produced a yellow pod, I was excited. This plant is an isolated plant and yellow Scorpions would be nice to have in my seed bank. But it was the only yellow pod the plant produced. Then I started seeing more pods turning yellowish. And then it happened. Every pod on that plant except the first yellow one were turning bright orange! Now I have heard that there is an orange Scorpion but never found a pic on the Web. Now my entire plant was going from green to orange. Not one red pod to be found. Sad to say the plant is dying but most pods will turn before I pull it up. So here is a treat for your readers. A pic of red, yellow and orange 'Trinindad Scorpions' all together! No Scorpion bumper crop this year, but I will take one rare plant over 50 common ones any day!"

I never saw this variety during my two trips to Trinidad, where the 'Congo Pepper' is so dominant, for good reason: its extreme heat and extreme size.  Look at this one in Mary Jane's hand.  When I cut it open to get the seeds, the fumes drove us out of our room at the Kapok Hotel in Port of  Spain!
Congo Pepper in Trinidad


shocking peppersLately the Internet has come alive with images of pepper pods that transcend the bounds of common decency.  Some unscrupulous people are actually posting them in their blogs to drive more traffic!  Imagine!  John Perea of Hot Rod Pickles (yes, a real company name) sent me the image to the left of a tumescent pod that I call "Horny Jalapeño."  Then there are the images of the pods that women love the most, the infamous 'Peter Peppers', and they are flushed red with excitement.  Notice that they are in the hands of a person of the male persuasion.  I'm not sure if that's gay or not.  And finally, my very own co-author and close friend, Dr. Paul Boland, a highly decorated Regent's Professor at New Mexico State University, insisted, over my vehement protests, that we publish a photo of an immature--but precocious--'Peter Pepper' in our new tome, The Complete Chile Pepper Book. The world is going to hell in a garden basket!


Here's an excerpt from my new book with Dr. Paul Bosland, The Complete Chile Pepper Book. The book is hardcover, 336 pages, 250 full-color photos, 85 recipes (with food shots).  Is is organized like this:
--About Chiles
--Top 100 (or so) Chiles for the Garden
--Capsicum Cultivation
--Processing and Preservation
--Cooking with Chiles

If you want a signed copy, buy the book here then send me a stamped, self-addressed envelope along with your name and dedication, and I will sign a faceplate for you that you can stick into the front of the book.
Dave DeWitt
P.O. Box 4980
Albuquerque, NM 87196


With the publication of my new book with Paul Bosland, The Complete Chile Pepper Book, imminent, it makes sense to start featuring some recipes from it.  This one will help you use up some of those excess poblanos in your garden.

(Photo by Norman Johnson; food styling by Denice Skrepcinski)

Poblano Pepper Rings
Since poblanos make some of the tastiest chiles rellenos, it makes sense that they fry up deliciously. Why not dip these rings in guacamole?

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
3 cups vegetable oil
3 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeds and stems removed, cut into 1/4-inch rings
1 cup buttermilk

Combine the flour, salt, pepper and cayenne and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a plate.

Heat the oil in a large pan until it just begins to smoke, then lower the heat slightly. Take the poblano rings 4 at a time, dip them in the flour, shake off any excess, then dip them in the buttermilk and back into the flour. Drop them into the hot oil and fry until lightly browned.

Repeat with the rest of the rings and then drain on paper towels. Serve them warm.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Heat Scale: Mild

Dateline Las Cruces, New Mexico.  For years, research done by New Mexico State University's Chile Pepper Institute has helped promote New Mexico's State Vegetable (really a fruit).  Now, the Institute itself (and its chile peppers) is on the map, literally, as a "must-see" destination in Rand McNally's 2010 Road Atlas "Best of the Road" program.

"We are thrilled that Rand McNally recommends the Chile Pepper Institute in their atlas," said Paul Bosland, Institute director. "It's an honor to know that people traveling in New Mexico can see us on the map and enjoy our Institute along their way."

According to Rand McNally, the publication is America's No. 1 road atlas. It provides five Best of the Road trips along with trip-planning tools, from detailed maps to mileage charts. The 2010 atlas is now available in stores and from online retailers like Amazon, here.

"Every year, our editors seek out and drive some of the best, most scenic road trip routes in the nation to find our Best of the Road winners," said Rand McNally editorial director Laurie Borman. 

Part of the attraction of the Chile Pepper Institute is its Demonstration Garden, where some 150 varieties of chiles from around the world are grown each year to educate the public.  See our article, here.

The Chile Pepper Institute is one of a handful of stops identified in Rand McNally's trip through New Mexico. The 2010 Road Atlas provides five road trips in regions throughout states such as New York, Oregon and South Carolina. Each trip features photos, an inset map and other similar destinations that readers might enjoy.

The Institute gained fame for developing and promoting the 'Bhut Jolokia' chile variety, named by Guinness World Records as the Hottest Spice in the World.  Located in NMSU's Gerald Thomas Hall, the institute is part of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.  See their website, here.

Full disclosure: Along with Dr. Paul Bosland, I was a founder of the Chile Pepper Institute.  My company is a sponsor of the New Mexico Chile Conference, hosted annually by the Institute.

On Saturday, June 27, 2009, the story made the front page of the Albuquerque Journal, and was featured in the Business section.

Holy Jolokia!  That's the name of the hot sauce the Chile Pepper Institute is releasing as a fund-raiser.  The Institute has partnered with CaJohn's Fiery Foods in Columbus, Ohio to produce the sauce, which is made with the world's hottest pepper, the 'Bhut Jolokia', or "ghost pepper."   This partnership marks the first time CPI has partnered with a private company, and Dr. Paul Bosland, director, said the new product will help cement New Mexico as the chile capital of the world.  The 5-ounce bottle of Holy Jolokia will retail for $10 and a portion of sales will help fund research and education at CPI.  After years of growing out strains of 'Bhut Jolokia', tests with High Performance Liquid Chromatography revealed the heat level to be in excess of one million Scoville Heat Units. The Institute's findings for 'Bhut Jolokia' were awarded the world record as the "hottest of all spices" by Guinness World Records in September, 2006.  For more information on Holy Jolokia, email the Institute here.  For detailed information on 'Bhut Jolokia', go here.

A Hybrid Bonsai Chile Plant

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

From Jukka Kilpinnen in Finland comes an unsual hybrid of a Dutch chile (Capsicum annuum) and an orange habanero (Capsicum chinense).  Jukka is a bonsai expert and has made a beautiful plant.  It's not easy and I failed at my first attempt.  For instructions, go here.

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