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5 things you may not know about Chile Peppers

According to Stephanie Walker, an “extension vegetable specialist” at the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University, chiles are tough crop for farmers because they’re sensitive to drought and parasites, and they have to be harvested by hand.

Here are a few of her facts on chilies:

  • If you just bite into the tip of a very hot chili pepper and not into the placenta or vein, you won’t get any heat.
  • Chile peppers and bell peppers are the exact same genus and species.
  • The heat in chili peppers is not detected by birds.
  • Chile pepper is used to feed flamingos in zoos to keep them pink.
  • Chemicals from the peppers are put in paints to put on boats to keep barnacles from attaching to the sides.

Chile Pepper Profile #5 – Cayenne

Darn Hot Pepper - Cayenne Chile



The cayenne pepper is named for the city of Cayenne in French Guiana, it is a cultivar of Capsicum annuum related to bell peppers, jalapeños, and others. The Capsicum genus is in the nightshade family (Solanaceae). The fruits are generally dried and ground, or pulped and baked into cakes, which are then ground and sifted to make the powdered spice known as cayenne pepper.

Cayenne is used in cooking spicy dishes, as a powder or in its whole form (such as in Sichuan cuisine) or in a thin, vinegar-based sauce. It is generally rated at 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville Units.

What to do with an abundance of chile peppers?

We’ve heard from some folks on twitter and facebook that this year seems to be shaping up really well for peppers, and already several yields are coming in from a single plant. Most folks we’ve chatted with are growing peppers in a home garden and asking what they should do with extra peppers that they cant eat while fresh.

Here are a few options:

  1. Drying: If you happen to live in the southwest like arizona or New Mexico the common practice for 1000’s of years is to split open your peppers and dry them on a hot rock. For the rest of us, if you happen to have a dehydrator handy this is a great option. Food dehydration is also really safe because once water is removed from the food, mold and bacteria cannot grow on it and it won’t spoil. However, a significant loss of vitamin A and C happens in dried foods due to the heat and air. If you dont have an electric dehydrator handy, Oven drying is good, but it isn’t very energy efficient, and you lose a lot of flavor. You will need to prop open the oven door to maintain air circulation during the drying process. You’ll need to dry for several hours, so you can see the problem here. Also, If your oven cannot keep a temperature below 200 degrees farenheit, use another method.
  2. Canning: Invest in a Pressure Canner (a large pressure  pot with a lifting rack to sanitize the jars after filling you can usually pick one up for between $75 – $150 dollars. These are good for for low acid foods like most vegetables, where you can’t use an open water bath canner, it has to be a pressure canner to get the high temperatures to kill the bacteria. If you plan on canning every year, it’s worth the price. The most important thing about pressure canning is that you need peppers that are FRESH and crisp. So make sure you pick and can ASAP.

  3. Freezing: This is probably the most economical and handy method for saving peppers. Just chop them up, place them on a cookie sheet and in the freezer. After freezing place into a zip lock bag and store in the freezer until your ready to cook. Frozen peppers are perfect for chili, soups, rice dishes and more.

Hope this was helpful.

Buen Provecho



In the past few weeks we’ve welcomed several new customers who love our products. And this one says it best,….E.S. ( a new customer and fellow pepper grower) thinks that our “salsa is Hot, but amazingly flavorful” and further, he feels “it’s great to know there are small companies in the US that still have that HOME TOWN attitude!”

We thank you heartily, E.S.. What a way to kick off the 2010 pepper season! Those seedlings are even now growing well and just about ready to put into the ground.
Hoping for some Mother Nature moderation in the amount of rainfall in order to do this soon.
Our 21 varieties plus our Herb Garden is coming along well. Hope to see many of our newly attracted customers, if they are within local traveling distance, to call up and reserve a date for a group of friends to visit the farm for our Tours which Start in July. See you there?