Pick a Peck of Peppers

Friends Drift Inn Farm – Gardening

Peppers Sweet Bell, Hot Wax, Cayenne Hot

2011 Ten Pepper Picks

The Classic Stand By

California Wonder is the sweet green bell pepper I grew up with, and most common at market. These are mature at 75 days; add another 30 days for red. California Wonders have heavy foliage that protects the thick walled bell peppers from sun scald.

California Wonders freeze well. I use them for sauces, chili, casseroles, and stuffed peppers. This is the “go to” sweet pepper. I’ll plant 2 – 3 dozen of these babies. California Wonders are heavy yielders, and will produce right up until frost here in the mountains, USDA Zone 6b.

To keep things visually interesting, I’m adding 6 Golden California Wonders to this section of the garden.

The I’m Serious about Pimento Cheese

Ashe County Pimento, a North Carolina heirloom, is being touted as this year’s trendy sweet pepper. I’ve not grown it before, but it is supposed to be suited for our mountains. This bright red selection will be a canning and roasting pepper….hopefully making superior pimento cheese.

We’ll see. I’ll try about 6 of these.

The “It’s Always Better with Hot Sauce”

Tabasco Pepper is the Louisiana favorite used in the iconic Tabasco sauce. I’ve never made my own hot sauce, but Husk Restaurant’s  chef Sean Brock does. Let’s just say I’m competitive. (Fall Update Hot Sauce Recipe with Tabasco Peppers)

This pepper can grow up to 4 feet, so I expect it will have to be staked. This requires 90 days to maturity. Get plants in the ground as soon as all danger of frost has passed.

I’m going with a dozen of these. Did I mention I was competitive?

The Dehydrating Duo

Hot Cayenne Peppers a good choice for drying food preservation

Nothing beats a Hot Cayenne Pepper for drying. These hot small elongated peppers take about 70 days to maturity. I let them get red on the plant, then pick big fistfuls for drying. These give zing to soups, chili, cornbread, vinegars, and cheese straws. I plant 6 of these and have plenty to share.

Jimmy Nardello Italian Peppers did well the first two years we grew them. Last year, they got flooded and never recovered. These are banana shaped, with an intense flavor fresh, fried, or dried. The books say about 75 days to maturity, but they always seem more like 85 here. I grow 6 of these in the patio garden, grabbing a few whenever we are grilling. This one is on Slow Foods Ark of Taste.

The Container Showstopper

Fish Peppers heritage comes from Baltimore, where they were used as an accompaniment to fish and seafood. I killed mine last year. I think they drowned. Oh the irony!

The thing is, these peppers have variegated green and white foliage. They look pretty in the flower and herb garden. If they taste as good as they look so much the better! Slow Food Ark of Taste gives these the nod.

The Pickling Pair

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper Rings
Does anyone not know what a Jalapeño pepper is? I grow a dozen of these, mostly because we have trouble getting a big enough yield for canning. They are suppose to mature in 70 days, but are very sluggish here.

In addition to pickled peppers and salsa Jalapenos are my favorite for hot pepper and cilantro jelly. OH YES!

No garden in Appalachia would be complete without Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers. They have a short growing season, about 70 days, and are a pretty pale yellow. These pickle nicely, especially cut in rings. Hungarian Hots add a zing to pizza, bean salads, and relish trays.

Kicks and Giggles

Joes Round (Ammazzo) makes little round hot peppers – what we used to call a “cherry bomb.” I’ve not grown these little marbles before, but the red color and cute shape makes me think these would be so pretty in jars of mixed hot pickles and relish. Maybe dried too?

So there you have, ten peppers I expect to grow this year. Who is with me?

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More Pepper and Garden Links Links

Tomato Picks 2011 Part I
Heirloom Vegetables and Gardening
Dehydrating Cayenne Peppers

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The Peppers selected are available from many sources. I use Baker Creek Seed and   Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. I am not paid by either company.

More Peppers
Dehydrating Cayenne Peppers

Hot Sauce Recipe with Tabasco Peppers

About Joyce Pinson

Joyce Friend Pinson is a regional farm-to-table columnist for the Appalachian-News Express. She is a local television host. Her column show and blog, Friends Drift Inn, explores food, gardening, and real life farm-to-table stories from the perspective of a baby boomer in Appalachia. Joyce has a background in agriculture, media, and small business. Joyce is an heirloom gardening addict and home canner. She has a penchant for big hats, pointy toed shoes, and bourbon. Along with her husband Charlie, Joyce really does live in a barn where they ballroom dance. And laugh. And cook. And giggle.