Prodigious Peppers

Aug 8th, 2012 | By | Category: Grow Something, spring, summer
Chile peppers, Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Chile peppers, Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers; a peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked; if Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?”  ~Mother Goose

If, like Peter Piper, the peppers you pick are already pickled on the plant, perhaps your picking is preposterously protracted, or your crazy experiment worked—you lucky progeny of unwed parents—and you better find a pucking good patent attorney pronto.

After tomatoes, peppers—both sweet and hot (but especially hot)—are high on the list of favorite edibles one might grow in the home vegetable garden. The pepper varieties available at food markets or plant nurseries can intimidate those for whom the sweet green bell is the only pepper with which they have cultivated a horticultural or culinary acquaintance. Mind you, there’s not a thing wrong with sweet green bell peppers. It was the first pepper most of us ever tasted, and as such, it holds a special place in our heartburn. When eaten raw, this member of the nightshade family has a bright, clean taste and delightful crunch. Cooked, it mellows and adds a telltale, subtle piquant flavor to any dish.

Before the Food Network captured the minds and palates of American home cooks who had cable TV, the sweet green bell pepper was the primary pod called into service when a recipe required a chopped or stuffed specimen. You had to go to ethnic markets to find peppers other than bells with flavors other than sweet (sweet merely means neither hot nor spicy).

Today, you will find a diverse array of fresh and dried peppers from the delicately sweet to the “save me Jesus I’m dying” varieties at neighborhood markets—and even at a few convenience stores. You’ve got to love a place where you can grab a quart of malt liquor and a handful of fresh pasilla peppers. That’s the neighborhood I want to live in.

If you don’t live in a place where a profusion of peppers is present, then consider growing them; the seeds are easy to find online. As long as you have a place outside that receives a minimum of six hours of sunshine, you can grow nearly any pepper you please—you actually don’t even need a backyard. Plant these lovelies in a container you’ve placed on a sunny patio. No need to deprive yourself just because your back forty is forty square feet of concrete patio or balcony.

And you won’t find a fresher or more potent pepper than one you’ve grown yourself.

Peppers are so easy to grow that if you use them in recipes you owe it to yourself to grow at least a couple of varieties that you may truly comprehend the difference between “market fresh” and “fresh picked.” Once you’ve learned to appreciate the good stuff you’ll never go back—at least not willingly.  So go ahead and throw a party for your pie hole with peerless peppers passionately propagated with your own precious paws. Power to the peppers!

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