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In which I learn something about peppers - Tactical Ninja

Apr. 9th, 2014

09:00 am - In which I learn something about peppers

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I've never grown chillies before.

Well, that's not entirely true. I grew some experimentally among the capsicums when my ex-husband and I were doing market gardening up north. They weren't very successful, I expect because of soil nutrition requirements or something.

But anyway, this mainshear one of my clients gave me* some heirloom chilli plants back in September, tiny seedlings just sprouted in the greenhouse.


I kept the wee blighters in my little seeding shed (which is just an attachment off the garage that has windows) because even I know that chillies come from a hot country and thus Wellington in September would probably kill them.

After several weeks I planted them out. I didn't expect much from them to start because it was still quite cold, but when it got into December and they were still tiny, I got a bit worried.

You see, I had assumed that chillies are from Mexico and that what they need is hot, dry conditions with poor-ish soil. More fool me, should have done my research.

So I did my research, and discovered that chillies are more of a tropics kind of plant than a desert one, and that what they like is hot, humid conditions with moist soil and lots and lots and lots of nutrients.

Luckily, Dr Wheel had given me a mini greenhouse for Christmas, so I erected this over the chillies, dumped a bag of sheep poo pellets in with them, and started watering them daily. What a difference that made! They immediately grew to about a foot high and started flowering. Now, they have chillies on them that are about 6 inches long. I dont' know what kind they are but they look like this:



I have no idea when to harvest chillies. The internet says "Whenever you like" which is not really any help. But they've stopped growing in length now, and aren't changing colour. Seems to me I could pick some if I wanted.

So last night I picked one, and tentatively nibbled on the end. It didn't seem that peppery, so I thought I'd add one to our dinner. I sliced it open and scooped the seeds out the way you would with a capsicum, then I licked my fingers.

Oh boy! OK, so it turns out that the inside of a chilli is much hotter than the outside. My mouth was still stinging 5 minutes later, after I'd taken a teeny-tiny slice of this thing and mooshed it up for our dinner, then put the rest on the windowsill to dry. Because that much chilli in our meal? Yeah nah.

After that I washed my hands thoroughly. And then I discovered that washing doesn't really achieve anything. I think chilli may make a good anti-nail-biting remedy. And that part where I brushed the ball of my thumb across the inside of my left nostril to scratch an itch?

Really.Bad.Idea.

She says while reaching for the tissues.


Suffice to say that I am still getting stinging every time I put my fingers in my mouth, and it seems I have managed to successfully grow some quite strong chillies. Probably not by the standards of those who like PAIN with their food, but by my extra-tastebudded ones? Oh hell yes. And I have about 25 of the little nasties hanging out there on their plants.

What the hell am I going to do with 25 chillies when even brushing my fingers over 1/10 of one is enough to make my eyes water?

* My clients often give me produce to send me on my way - I've come home with plants, vegies, bags of meat, eggs - and once, green eggs that came from purple chickens. That was awesome.

Comments:

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From:m_danson
Date:April 8th, 2014 09:06 pm (UTC)
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That's the reason I'm always hesitant to plant hot peppers. I never know how to test them without hurting myself.

Sweet peppers really are pick whenever because the green peppers and red peppers are the same plant only they've ripened more.
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From:tatjna
Date:April 8th, 2014 09:11 pm (UTC)
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Yep, I have capsicums in the greenhouse too and am resisting the urge to pick them now because I'd like to get red ones. But they are so big and juicy!
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From:khaybee
Date:April 8th, 2014 09:12 pm (UTC)
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I'd be pleased to help you make hot sauce or sweet chili sauce for bottling. We can wear rubber gloves when we process then, as that is what I generally do. The capsasin is concentrated into the membrane inside the chili, so that is where the heat is. The seeds are attached to the membrane, leading to the myth that the heat is in the seeds.

C'mon, it'll be fun!
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From:tatjna
Date:April 8th, 2014 09:33 pm (UTC)
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I think I'm game - although, I remember when you did this up at Horokiwi and even being in the kitchen made my eyes water. Will we need gas masks?
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From:khaybee
Date:April 8th, 2014 09:42 pm (UTC)
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Not gas masks, but we would be wise to choose a fine day so we can open all the windows and perhaps adjorn outside for a cuppa every now and again.
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From:tatjna
Date:April 8th, 2014 09:43 pm (UTC)
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Good to know. We should discuss this over swordfish sometime soon. ;-)
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From:khaybee
Date:April 8th, 2014 09:47 pm (UTC)
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Woo-hoo!
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From:pombagira
Date:April 8th, 2014 09:16 pm (UTC)
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oh i remember those green eggs they were pretty!!

*beams*
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From:tatjna
Date:April 8th, 2014 09:35 pm (UTC)
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They totally were. So were the chickens:



Edited at 2014-04-08 09:36 pm (UTC)
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From:pombagira
Date:April 8th, 2014 09:47 pm (UTC)
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ohhh yeah.. pretty chickens..

:D
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From:laughingmagpie
Date:April 8th, 2014 10:24 pm (UTC)
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Ouch!

I grew some chillies in a pot on the deck and harvested a couple pounds from that one small plant. That was maybe 2 years ago - I'm still using them from my freezer. Yeah, it's hard to use them up when they are so hot!
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From:tatjna
Date:April 8th, 2014 10:25 pm (UTC)
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For something that you can only really use sparingly, they sure do produce a lot of fruit! I don't think I'll bother next year.

Although, I'm told they are a two-year plant anyway. Hmm..
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From:decemberthirty
Date:April 9th, 2014 02:17 am (UTC)
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Be glad you didn't rub your eyes!! I've done that after touching hot peppers and it is NOT fun.

Really cool that your clients give you interesting plants and vegetables and things! :)
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From:tatjna
Date:April 9th, 2014 02:19 am (UTC)
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I have been consciously avoiding my eyes. It's now 20 hours and counting, and my fingers still make my tongue tingle.

I feel proud of my hot pepper growing skills (well, luck really) but am now terrified of my own fingers.

Being paid in kind is pretty awesome, and fun to see what comes out of it! ;-)
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From:t_c_da
Date:April 9th, 2014 03:20 am (UTC)
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green eggs that came from purple chickens

So Dr Seuss wasn't so off the wall after all - whoda thunk it?

We provided 5i with green eggs and ham once for his birthday (on request) courtesy some suitable food dye...
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From:tatjna
Date:April 9th, 2014 07:25 am (UTC)
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Mmm.. that sounds appealing.. but worth a try if this stuff sticks around any longer.
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From:siobhan63
Date:April 9th, 2014 11:01 am (UTC)
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The oil is your best bet. I had to look this up once for the same reasons - chopped one up and got the stuff all over my hands. Just pour half a tablespoon of olive oil onto dry hands, and massage well into your palms and fingers. Then simply wash away the oil with soap and warm water. The capsaicin dissolves readily in olive oil, which washes away with the soap and water. Milk (or yogurt) is recommended to get the burning sensation out of your mouth after you eat a chili.
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From:meathiel
Date:April 9th, 2014 07:08 am (UTC)
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Wow - these chillies must be hellish ...

Edited at 2014-04-09 07:08 am (UTC)
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From:tatjna
Date:April 9th, 2014 07:26 am (UTC)
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I wish I knew what kind they are! Some people really like them this hot, and then I could give them to those people. ;-)
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From:t_c_da
Date:April 9th, 2014 09:46 pm (UTC)
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$wife has her hand up.

She usually puts whole chilli peppers into cooking rather than cutting them up, and consumes with some relish the resulting limp chilli in the final meal. Me? I gladly hand them over to her...
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From:tatjna
Date:April 9th, 2014 09:49 pm (UTC)
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I am now questioning $wife's sanity.
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From:goddessofchaos
Date:April 9th, 2014 09:11 am (UTC)
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With some chillies it's the seeds that are the hottest part. Sometimes I've been eating something with chillies and it's all fine and just a little bit spicy, then I take a mouthful that contains a seed without noticing and OMG HOT HOT HOT BRING ME WATER NOW!!
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From:kotturinn
Date:April 9th, 2014 10:34 am (UTC)
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This. Seeds and membranes are habitually the hottest bits.
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From:nessainwe
Date:April 9th, 2014 01:51 pm (UTC)
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I don't like anything too hot, especially hot peppers, so that doesn't sound fun at all to me!
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From:meri_sielu
Date:April 9th, 2014 03:25 pm (UTC)
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Oh god I've gotten chilli up my nose (don't even remember how) and it was the WORST pain imaginable so I feel your pain. Funnily enough chillies are one of the only things I have ever been successfully able to grow, we had a great Pumpkin Chilli plant that gave us two yields and almost took over the entire kitchen window. I was very impressed with it. :)
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From:pundigrion
Date:April 19th, 2014 11:01 am (UTC)
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I see others have mentioned the membrane! I dry most of our hot chilis, carefully scraping them out while wearing gloves. Then I can add ludicrously small amounts to a wide array of dishes...or others can add more as they please to their own bowl! (This works great with dipping sauce since I serve that in custard cups.)

Or I throw them in the freezer and then toss a whole one in things. Used this way they are more like a bay leaf, imparting more flavour than heat. Chiliheads like K then land up with any I fish out of my bowl or I compost them just like used bay leaves.
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