Like last year, we planted jalapeños in one of our raised vegetable beds. Since the summer of 2011 was less hot than normal, it took noticeably longer for the peppers to ripen. I like to leave them on the plant until they’re bright red because I prefer the rounder, fruitier taste of fully mature jalapeños to the far more pungent and far less complex taste of green peppers. However, with Christmas almost upon us and day-time temperatures rarely exceeding the 50s, there’s really no way the jalapeños will continue to ripen.
|Jalapeños in a raised bed|
On Sunday afternoon I proceeded to pull out our lone jalapeño plant. After I cut off the roots, I tied the stalks together with twine and hung them under the roof of our front porch. Instant ristra!
|Some peppers have already started to dry|
|Do you see the face?|
After the peppers are dry, they can be ground into powder or rehydrated in soups or stews. If I had a smoker, I’d smoke the fresh peppers to make chipotles.
I also tried some other hot peppers this year. I started four types of chilhuacles, a rare Mexican pepper used in the famed Oaxacan black mole sauce, from seed. Unfortunately, all seedlings but one were destroyed by hail in mid-May; the remaining one didn’t flower until fall and never set fruit. I also bought two mulato plants, but they only produced a total of four peppers. I think 2011 simply wasn’t a good year for peppers, just like it was a lousy year for tomatoes. We do need a string of 100°F+ days in the summer for these sun-loving plants to do their best.