Sweet and hot peppers are heat-loving plants that come in a dazzling array of shapes, sizes and colors. Peppers need moist soil to flower and set fruit, so keep soil moist around the plants, covering with mulch if necessary and watering the plants regularly in the height of summer. Sweet peppers you may recognize from your local grocer are bell peppers which are available from green, to yellow to sweet red, but why buy when you can grow your own?
Harvest sweet peppers at any stage of growth; they can be eaten big or small. Picking often allows the plant to be more productive, in other words we fool the plant into thinking they did not produce. Cut branches instead of twisting or pulling them to avoid cracking or damaging the plant. Allow hot peppers to reach full growth and flavor before harvesting.
How Hot Do You Like Your Salsa?
Let’s Check our Heat Scale
Mild – use the Anaheim chile which is long, narrow and green
Hot – use the jalapeno chile, which is short, stubby and dark green
Very Hot – use the Serrano chile, which is tiny, thin and curvy. They can be red or green
Fire Off the Charts Hot – use the habanero chile, which is lantern shaped, and dark green to orange. When fully ripe, this chile becomes a red color that screams, “warning”! Fifty times hotter than a jalapeno, this is not recommended for the faint heart. Special care should be taken when preparing recipes with this pepper.
How to Tame a Hot Pepper
Slice the pepper in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and cut away the membranes – that’s where all the tear-causing heat is. To play it safe, wear rubber gloves. And whatever you do, don’t scratch yours eyes or touch any other sensitive spot on your body until everything is well scrubbed.