Have you ever noticed how many different types of little red peppers there are in the produce section of the store? Sometimes a recipe will call for “two small red chilies, diced”, but there are so many choices! What kind to use?
Your heat preference is the main determining factor. Peppers are rated on the Scoville Heat Unit scale. That was something I always heard of, but I wasn’t sure what it was, so I did some research and this is what I found: back in 1912, a young pharmacist named Wilbur Scoville decided to determine the heat in various types of peppers. This was achieved by measuring the amount of capsaicin in the peppers. All I can imagine is that he must have loved spicy food, since he made this project his mission! But his results are still used today to rate the heat of peppers.
So what’s hot and what’s not? If you and I were standing in the produce aisle at the store, looking at the array of peppers, we should know that bell peppers have a Scoville Heat Unit rate of zero. Habanero peppers have a SHU of 7000 to 8000; cayenne peppers are 30,000 to 50,000; and the funny little scotch bonnet peppers are 100,000 to 350,000. Imagine that!
Handling the hotter peppers requires caution!
We can grow many varieties of peppers in our gardens. As we’re chatting, I have the T & T Seed catalogue open in front of me, and there are about a dozen different kinds of peppers, ranging from the beautiful sweet “Orange Blaze” bell pepper to the “Burning Bush Hybrid” that is described as providing “loads of slightly sweet and oh so hot and tasty treats!” There are also Serrano “Del Sol Hybrid” peppers, with “a more refined flavor than Jalapenos”, and “Mike Stefancsik’s Hungarian Hot Pepper” that is described as “a medium sized, green chili type pepper with extreme heat”.
If you and I decide to grow peppers this summer, remember that they do very well in a pot; so if your “garden” is your back step, you can still enjoy the tasty treats of fresh peppers. Peppers like sunshine, heat, and require between 65 and 90 days of growing time. But even before the peppers are mature, the pepper plant is an attractive addition to our gardens: the dark green, somewhat glossy leaves are very pretty and lush as a backdrop to other plants. So don’t be afraid to plant them in your flowerbeds with your flowers! Just keep in mind that they like lots of sun.
The Yorkton and District Horticultural Society will be holding their first meeting of 2013 on Thursday, February 21 at 7:00 p.m. in the Sunshine Room at SIGN. Our guest will be Warren Crossman speaking about food security. Everyone is welcome; you don’t have to be a member to attend our meetings, although we’d love to have you join us! But please note the new day, Thursday, February 21.
Also, ask a gardening friend to join you and plan to attend the 3rd Annual Prairie Sun Seed Festival on Saturday, February 23 at Yorkdale Central School. There will be exhibits and presentations on locally grown food, food security, gardening, food preservation, and much more! That’s Saturday, February 23.
The change is still minimal, but can you notice the days are getting a wee bit longer? We’re heading in the right direction! Have a great week!