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Feeling Peppery.

If there’s one thing that we won’t be running out of anytime soon around here. . . it’s peppers. IMG_4780Peppers.

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Peppers.

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And more peppers. 

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Almost too many to know what to do with. I’m all peppered out. You wouldn’t want any, would you? 

But they’re not just any normal peppers. Nope, they’re HOT. With all letters capitalized kind of hot. Definitely hotter than last year’s crop. 

So, what did I do differently to make the peppers so hot this year? Well, after a little Googling, I’ve figured it out. 

To maximize heat, peppers need these things:

Stress.

You wouldn’t think it, but peppers thrive on stress. Or, I should say, their heat level thrives on it. You probably know that capsaicin is the chemical compound responsible for heat in peppers, but what you may not know is that it is also a natural defense mechanism that evolved over time to give peppers protection against certain fungi. The production of capsaicin increases when plants are stressed. Such as, when they’re not getting quite enough water.

I’ll admit, this summer has been busier than usual and has involved a lot of on the road travel, and I’ve been a little lax in the watering department. 

Sun.

Peppers like sun. Seriously, hot, full sun exposure. Alabama has no shortage of heat during the warmer months (well, actually, all year long), but this year has been one of the hottest summers we’ve had with records being broken and set more than once. And my peppers are planted in full, direct sun exposure.

Time.

When jalapeno peppers are ripe, they’re not actually green. They’re red.

I totally didn’t know that. They’re also hotter. 

Apparently, waiting to pick peppers until they’ve ripened a little longer, to at least a darker green if you don’t want red jalapenos, will result in them being much hotter.

You can also look for little striations to form on the peppers. As they grow and age, peppers develop light colored lines in the outerskin. You might be able to see some of the lines below.

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