Friday, October 28, 2016

A peck of peppers

This year we enjoyed phenomenal success with the cayenne peppers.

A funny thing about the cayennes: last year I started an entire tray, 50 plants, in the house; but when I transplanted them, only 15 survived. We got a nice little harvest of peppers, but Younger Daughter goes through them pretty regularly. So this year I started 100 plants indoors in February, of which 77 grew. I transplanted about 60 of them and gave extras to neighbors. And what do you know? I didn't lose a single plant. Therefore we got buried in cayennes.

Here they're about two months old.

Cayennes take a long time to mature, so it was necessary to start them early. But what fun to watch them grow!

By mid September, the ripe peppers were thick on the vines.

So I went through and picked all the ripe ones.

There were plenty -- lots -- of green peppers still left on the plants.

Cayennes are just so durned pretty.

I ended up giving about a gallon of fresh cayennes to a neighbor who's crazy about them.

The rest I dried by putting them in a metal colander on the warming shelf of the wood cookstove. They can also be dried, of course, by stringing them and hanging. I've done it both ways.

When our first frost hit last week, we harvested the tomatoes, red bell peppers, and cayennes. For the cayennes, we pulled the plants and laid them root-side-in in the wheelbarrow.

Then I parked the wheelbarrow in the barn for several days as other chores took priority. But I wanted to process through the cayennes lest they go bad.

So Tuesday, during a rare sunny afternoon, I pulled the wheelbarrow out into the driveway and started picking the ripe peppers.

The large basket quickly filled with fresh peppers. I'll dry these, of course.

But most of the plants still had green peppers on them.

Last year, when we pulled the cayenne plants prior to a killing frost, we hung them upstairs to see if the remaining green peppers would ripen. Rather to our surprise, they did; so now we know to hang the plants until the green peppers ripen.

So as I picked ripe peppers, I put aside the plants that still had green peppers; then threaded them with twine.

I ended up with three "necklaces" of peppers, which I hung in the barn. Everything should ripen over the next month or so.

A few peppers fell off the plants which weren't ripe yet, so I gathered these in a bowl and brought them in the house. I don't know if they'll ripen or not; we'll see.

I'll plant more cayennes next February, but maybe, um, not quite as many.


  1. I was wondering why you planted so many, now I know. One year I planted some and ended up with about 5 plants and they all got harvested. I left the peppers on one of those garden trays in the basement, so of course after a few months I decided I should grind them up and save as a spice. So I broke the green ends off and tossed them in a blender. May I suggest that if this method is used, you wear a very strong mask. Unless that is of course you want the cleanest sinus that any human can have. At the end of my experiment I not only had the cleanest sinuses but had a job of shutting my son up with his never ending laughter at my expense. A serious note, when you have your very own home grown cayennes their strength will last much longer than store bought, you can tell by the scent and color. Get a mask.

  2. Last year I tried growing Habanero for the first time and wasn't sure how they would do, so I started a bunch really early in the basement. Ended up with a ton of plants and a bumper crop of ripe peppers. Same thing with my first attempt at Thai Peppers this year. It's surprising how well they do in Western PA. Three or four of those little babies(with seeds) really add some zing when you puree them in with jerky marinade................

  3. Put some of the cayennes in a jar and cover with vinegar, and let set awhile....homemade pepper sauce for pouring over greens. Mmmmm. Pepper sauce is amazing! We love some in our black eyed peas, too! I'm sure it can be used for other things....I'm not quite southern enough to know all the uses, lol.

  4. Hot peppers grow well for me, too. When I cleaned up my community garden bed, I pulled everything off the plants including the green peppers. I laid them in a colander so they weren't touching each other. In about a week, most had turned red. Eventually all ripened beautifully. SJ in Vancouver BC

  5. Be careful that you don't get yesterday's topic mixed up with today's on the same counter. It could be very irritating.--ken

  6. Have you tried pepper jelly? Delicious on grilled cheese sandwiches or spread over cream cheese and topped with shrimp for an appetizer.

  7. We eat the peppers green most of the time, they are awesome.