Chilli Plants

Chilli plants have been a part of the South American landscape for 7000 years! The many varieties are the world’s most frequently used culinary spice and the heat is mostly concentrated in the seeds and the white pith.

Chilli bush

All chilli plants require good drainage, full sunshine and an enriched soil. Do not grow the plants where related species of the family, such as tomatoes and eggplants, have recently been grown. Chillies require a minimum growing season of 3 months. In cooler areas, grow seedlings under protection before planting them out after the last frost. the flowers are self pollinating and they also ready cross pollinate. Pick the chillies at any time but remember that they reach peak heat when they turn red. Unripe chillies are green, but when ripe they may be red, yellow, purple or almost black. The heat level varies from negligible to off the scale! Generally, the smaller the chilli, the hotter it will be.

Indian, West Indian, African and Asian cuisines are almost unthinkable without chillies yet they were almost unknown in these parts of the world until after 1492 when Columbus introduced them from the New World. All species of chillies are indigenous to South America. Capsaicin is fat soluble which means that the addition of yoghurt to a dish will cool it down. Choose firm, shiny fresh chillies and avoid those that are wrinkled. Green chillies are always used fresh and red chillies can be used fresh or dried. Dried chillies are fruitier and sweeter even though they retain their heat. You can preserve fresh chillies in vinegar, or dry them at home for later use.

Chilli condiments include paprika, cayenne, Tabasco, Peri Peri and Mole Poblano. Dishes using paprika include Crayfish Goulash and using chillies you can try sweet chilli sauce or harissa.

information sourced from The Complete Book of Herbs

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