Piles of Peppers

I’m trying to catch up with my 2014 garden notes so I have to take a break from watching my monarch caterpillars for a moment, which is not as easy as it sounds. They’re so stinkin’ cute! But in the interest of having something to look back on when planning next year’s gardens I need to get this stuff down.

Today’s update features the lovely Capsicum, better known here in the states as peppers. Delicious, nutritious, crunchy, smoky, spicy and sweet, peppers offer a huge variety of flavors, textures and uses. Sweet red bell peppers, especially roasted or grilled, have always been at the top of my list but now, having managed to grow my first successful pepper crop from a variety of seeds gathered through swaps, I’m stretching my tastebuds a bit.

Pepper harvest: Serrano, California Wonder Bell, Anaheim, Shisito
Pepper harvest: Serrano, California Wonder Bell, Anaheim, Shisito all grown organically

I learned this year that pepper seeds can be tricky to germinate. Apparently they like to be heated from below and kept in the dark, totally the opposite of the germination station I cobbled together. I think more than half of mine failed, but I had good luck with a few varieties. The biggest surprise so far are the Anaheim chilies. They are growing like crazy on bushes nearly 4′ tall. They don’t taste great raw but they develop a gorgeous smoky flavor when roasted or grilled.

Anaheim Peppers
Anaheim Peppers

I resisted picking them for a couple weeks and hoped they’d grow large enough to stuff, and they did! For the stuffing I sauteed chicken sausage with onions, zucchini, Swiss chard and Serrano chilies from the garden then mixed in quinoa I’d cooked with seasoned chicken stock. I sliced open the peppers, removed the seeds and stuffed those suckers full to bursting.

Stuffing Anaheim chilies for grilling
Anaheim chilies stuffed with sausage and quinoa and ready for grilling

They went on the grill over medium-high for about 15 minutes. A little parmesan and two minutes under the broiler and they were done. It was a messy process but totally worth it. We ate them with a cucumber-dill yogurt sauce for a nice crisp, cool balance to the warm, smoky peppers. I also grilled a few more to keep in the fridge and add to eggs, sandwiches and whatever else we’re eating.

Stuffed Anaheim Peppers
Stuffed Anaheim Peppers

We’ve also had good success with my beloved shishito. Although only two seeds sprouted the plants have done well and we’ve harvested a couple dozen peppers so far. I like to char these on the grill and toss them with sea salt, olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a splash of soy sauce (details here).

Organic Shishito Pepper Plant
Shishito Pepper Plant

Serrano peppers are also producing like crazy and I’ve got way more than I know what to do with. So far I’ve roasted some for the freezer, made salsa fresca three times, froze some whole and given a handful away. I’ve promised the next batch to a restaurant down the street so at least I know they’ll go to good use.

The Numex Twilights, which originated at New Mexico State University, are doing pretty well. I grew them ornamentally because they looked so cute in the picture. They’re really unusual in that they start out purple then slowly change to yellow then orange and finally red. They grow upwards on a bushy little plant and look kind of like Christmas lights.

Numex Twilight Peppers
Numex Twilight Peppers

I haven’t actually tasted these peppers, but based on how red our friend’s face turned after popping one in his mouth I’m going to surmise that they are pretty damn hot. He was in such pain that he ran inside grimacing and sweating and willingly drank milk for the first time in years. I know it’s wrong to say it was really freaking funny, but honestly what kind of dummy just pops a random pepper in their mouth?

Red California Wonder Bell Peppers
California Wonder Bell Peppers are finally turning from green to red!

And that brings us to my proudest moment – my first ever gorgeous bell peppers. I’ve got a little forest going, chock full of fat green peppers and several that are finally turning red. It took a long time for them to turn but it’s worth it! I waited as long as I could to pick one but I was experiencing such terror that something might go wrong – bugs, possums, aliens – that I had to do it. Isn’t she gorgeous?

I will proudly mention here that no chemicals were used to grow this pepper – no, not even MiracleGro – just fish emulsion, crushed egg shells and compost. Oh, and of course LOVE. We stuffed and grilled that guy too and will be using the next one in a paella tomorrow. Yum.

Green California Wonder Bell Peppers
My organically-grown peppers. No need to squeeze, I promise they’re real, and they’re spectacular! 

I would also like to thank Pat Sherwood for this adorable apron made by her, by hand, just for me 🙂

And that brings us to the end of the update from this happy capsicum grower. One note to self before I go: stake the peppers before they grow big and bushy ya dummy!

Harvest Tally June 18 – July 10:
Shishito: 26
Anaheim: 9
Bell: 1 Red, 5 Green (3.5+ lbs)
Serrano: 34

~~~~~~~~~~~ END POST ~~~~~~~~~~

 

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. Hilda says:

    They are all beautiful! Only a few of my pepper seeds survived and until they bear fruit I won’t even know which ones they are for sure. Thanks for the tips on getting them to germinate. Maybe I’ll have better luck next year, but I do find all the pepper plants so pretty even just when flowering. I also find once they grow, they can come indoors in the winter and sometimes survive till the next planting year – the small, hot ones anyway, and they make beautiful indoor plants in the winter.

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    1. Sheri Fox says:

      Sure thing! People also say to cover the tray with plastic wrap and leave them on top of the fridge til they pop. Or use a heat mat. I’m amazed mine are so happy. It would be awesome if they survived til next spring! It doesn’t freeze here so maybe…. 🙂

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  2. Pat Sherwood says:

    You have me wanting to try a variety of peppers now. I haven’t been much for hot peppers but your way of cooking them sounds so good. next grocery trip I’ll check out the kinds of peppers they carry. 🙂 Thanks also for the kind words about the apron!

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    1. Sheri Fox says:

      Yay! I highly recommend Anaheims. Stuffed with meat or I just saw a recipe that used roasted paprika corn with goat cheese and quinoa. Looked so good. Then you can roast at 350 for maybe 15 minutes or until soft. I like to put mine under the broiler with a panko Parmesan crust. Yum 🙂

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      1. Pat Sherwood says:

        mmm, mmm, mmm…just jotted the idea down and will try it soon. I have the panko and parmesan, just need peppers and decide what goes inside…thanks!

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        1. Sheri Fox says:

          Let me know how it goes! I think any seasoned meat with seasoned rice or quinoa (paprika, cumin, fresh thyme, etc) will be delicious.

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    1. Sheri Fox says:

      Thank you! I’m very happy with my peppers. Tomatoes are another story… 😉

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  3. What a healthy peppers you have! Looking so crisp and very good tasting. 🙂

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    1. Sheri Fox says:

      Thank you, they are delicious! 🙂

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  4. You are a pepper rockstar! I am a huge pepper fan and wish I could grow them as beautifully as you. I often buy so many at farmer’s markets because they are, to me, like candy to a kid in a candy store. Love your stuffed Anaheims and congrats on the bells. When I buy poblanos for cooking, I usually buy a few extra make rellenos.

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    1. Sheri Fox says:

      I should try rellenos next. Is that masa and cheese and veggies? Mmm. I love peppers too and hate that it’s so hard or expensive to get organic ones. I got really lucky with these. Hope I can keep them going!

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  5. Don’t even need masa (that would be tamales). I finally have a red tomato – major excitement for me…my thumb is not as green (but my tomatoes are).

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