Chili Peppers

Chili Peppers

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The Chili Pepper

Chili is the spicy fruit of a perennial plant native to South America, the Capsicum; the most cultivated capsicum species is capsicum annuum, to which also the sweet fruit varieties, from which the peppers are obtained, also belong; there are several species of capsicum, but few are widespread as cultivated plants; those few, however, namely Capsicum annuum, Capsicum chinense and capsicum frutescens, are widespread throughout the globe, and are grown both to produce fruits to be used in the kitchen, and for remedies of folk and traditional medicine. In Italy typically the peppers are grown as annual plants, although in reality they are perennials, which can be grown for some years, continuing to produce the typical spicy fruits during the hot season.
In addition to the botanical species, there are hundreds of varieties, selected for the shape of the fruits, for their color but also, and above all, for the spiciness. There is a scale that measures the spiciness, called the Scoville scale, which measures the amount of capsicin present in the capsicum fruits, where the peppers appear to the zero degree of spiciness, and chillies of the famous Habanero variety, reach the 200,000 degree on the Scoville scale. The most spicy hot pepper today, is a variety of Capsicum chinense, called Trinidad Moruga Scorpion; also habanero is a variety of the Chinense species, which has a large amount of decidedly very spicy varieties, often with particular shapes, and generally orange, yellow or brown.
The capsicin, inside the peppers, is contained in different amounts depending on the part of the berry that we are going to examine, where the seeds generally do not contain them, the pulp contains little, and the white filaments to which the seeds are clinging. they contain in maximum degree; using the fresh chillies in the kitchen, you can lower their spiciness very much, cleaning the berries of all the whitish, filamentous parts inside them.

Grow chili peppers

Chilies are grown as annuals, often, although they can easily survive more winters, but only if they are protected from frost, and grown at about 5-8 ° C, although they often tend to lose their foliage anyway. The seeds are generally fertile, and each berry contains many, which is why we often tend to replace the plants with new sprouts directly from the seeds of the previous anus, instead of worrying about repairing the plants from the cold.
In the first year of cultivation they produce small dense and branched shrubs, with star-shaped white flowers, and wide, thin, light green lance-shaped leaves; the rather contained dimensions make it possible to cultivate also in pots, even in small containers; for this reason it is easy to grow chili even on the terrace, or on the windowsill of the kitchen window, to have products that are always fresh to use in the summer.
Sowing takes place in February-March, in a protected seedbed, or in March-April, in the open field; the peppers need a rich and very well drained soil, possibly with calcium added, and a flowerbed placed in a very sunny place. The first shoots appear after a few weeks, and the initial development of the plants is quite rapid; the plants placed in the seedbed must be put back in the garden, when they have reached such dimensions that they can be moved.
Although it is a plant that makes us think of the sun, the heat, the Mediterranean, the peppers do not like drought very much, and to have a constant flowering and therefore many fruits, it is good to water regularly. However, we avoid excesses, because root rot is favored by water stagnation: we water regularly, avoiding leaving the plant completely dry for many days, but avoid watering until the soil is still wet. Plants left without water tend to wither, a clear sign of need for watering.

Keep the peppers

A single pepper plant, of any species or variety, can produce dozens of small berries in a vegetative season; only a true fan of hot spices may need to have an entire flowerbed all cultivated with chili peppers; in general, for a normal palate, few plants are enough, often in family gardens they only grow two or three for each season. Fortunately, capsicin is not degraded by heat, cold, dehydration (at least not completely), so they can be stored in various ways: dried, frozen, in sauces to be placed in a jar. Typically, in Italian families some crumbled buckets are inserted into a bottle of oil, in order to better dose the spicy taste in the dishes.
The most widespread in our country, on the market, are dry and crumbled, or whole and arranged twisted to form small crowns; over time, small dried peppers can be attacked by insects, which is why, if we do not consume them within a year, it is advisable to store them in airtight containers.

Ornamental chillies

Chillies are very common in cultivation all over the globe, and are now a very typical spice of most international cuisines; this success is due to the ease of cultivation, which can take place in Bangkok as well as in Gdansk. In the past centuries the introduction of chilli seemed a matter of great economic interest for the Spaniards, who began to market it in Europe, hoping that it would supplant other spices of Asian origin, such as pepper or cinnamon. Unluckily for them this happened, that is, the chili pepper became much more used than pepper, but everyone could produce it on their own, at home, without the need to buy dried peppers from Spanish cultivation in South America.
There are hundreds of varieties of chili pepper, with elongated fruits, rounded, box-shaped, yellow, acid green, bright red, purple; besides being very appreciated in the kitchen, the peppers can also be grown as ornamental plants, because throughout the summer they continue to flourish, and continue to produce new colored berries, which are therefore very decorative, with their bright colors that stand out on the dark green foliage. Even the ornamental ones must be grown in the sun, and need regular watering, otherwise they stop flowering and produce decorative berries.
The varieties derived from capsicum pubescens also often have larger flowers, dark purple, very decorative.
The ornamental chili is as edible as the one cultivated in the garden, although it is not always possible to know in advance how spicy they are; in particular, many ornamental species are only delicately spicy. However, in the nursery, you can see any variety of chilli peppers placed in pots as if they were just an ornamental plant, so it could happen that you have a nice spicy habanero plant on the terrace in flower pots.


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  2. Wattekinson

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  3. Yogor

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  4. Hnedy

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