Peppers, chiles, chile peppers. On the Scoville Chart, they are ranked mild to screaming hot. Fresh, roasted, smoked, dried, powdered, pickled. Colorful. Seasoning or main ingredient, peppers are an integral ingredient in cuisines around the world.
Here on OF’s Farm at the Sidewalk House, we grow a few varieties of peppers each year. Along with the usual jalapenos and serranos, we like to explore new to us varieties. A few years back I chose sweet cherry peppers and Fooled You jalapenos for stuffing ~ great choices for those who don’t like their poppers hot. The year that Farmer Ken turned 70, he discovered a variety of pepper known as wrinkled old man (aka shishitos); and that inspired an adventure into Japanese skewers. We’ve grown Goats Horn because our son and his family have a herd of goats. Datil peppers joined the line-up last year ~ after a very long search ~ because of my down home roots. We’ve planted Albino Bullnose and Bulgarian Carrot chiles, Chinese 5 Color, and Fish ~ just because.
A few years ago, our sweet friend, Janice, suggested a trip to Contrary Mary’s Specialty Plants way out in Minooka. We had been growing heirloom tomato plants under lights in past years. As heirlooms became more mainstream, Mary had researched and introduced lesser known varieties. We were smitten. And if you know Mary and her enthusiasm for her plants, you understand how we came to planting and consuming a wider range of peppers. A trip to her little farm for heirloom tomato and pepper plants is a highly anticipated Springtime outing. Mary never disappoints. (www.contrarymarysplants.com/)
2015 Varieties (above)
2016 Varieties (above)
Sweet Cherry and Lipstick 2016 (above)
Contrary Mary’s recommendation for 2016 was Lipstick. And as always I took a chance. As the peppers began to ripen, I went into research mode. Heat? “Mild.” Use? “A pimento type.” As in Pimento Cheese? Well I nevuh! I also learned that the sweet cherry peppers I had planted for stuffing are a pimento type. Who knew!
As the seed catalogs fill our mailbox, we begin to dream beyond the dreary gray of this winter. When will Contrary Mary post her on-line 2017 catalog? Will she have a new to us pepper for the coming season?
And how do we incorporate our peppers into The Sidewalk House cuisine?
It’s the little things y’all. Stay tuned! Hugs from the farmer’s wife.