Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tasting Mild Chinense Chile Peppers

Tis the season to harvest my chinense chile peppers. These peppers would really be more at home in a warmer climate than mine but I do manage to eke out something of a harvest. I grew a number of them this year and in response to Christina's question about a recommendation for a mildish chinense or baccatuum chile I've decided to do a little tasting.

In order of tasting (from left to right in the photo and first to last below):

Aji Dulce #3
Totally sweet, even in the ribs, a bare hint of heat after eating an entire half of a chile, including the ribs and seeds (where most of the heat is). This chile wasn't as aromatic and fruity as other chinense peppers I've tasted. About a 0.5 on a scale of 0 to 10. Not necessarily recommended, innocuous.

Aji Dulce Yellow
I planted 2 plants of this variety and they are producing 2 different pods. The most prolific plant has pods that mature orange rather than yellow. The other plant has only a few much smaller pods and the first one to start ripening looks like it will turn out to be a true yellow. I'm evaluating the orange one here. The flesh has just a little heat, but the ribs are spicy with a medium heat that builds and lingers, about like a spicy jalapeno, it made me pour a beer. Aromatic and fruity, a nice chile, but I won't be showing off by popping a whole one (or even half of one) in my mouth and gobbling it down. About a 4 on the 0 to 10 scale. Recommended.

Aji Dulce #1
A little more spice than #3 and also more aromatic. The flesh has a hint of warmth and the ribs and seeds a bit more. About a 1 on a scale of 0 to 10. Recommended, perhaps use it in combination with a chinense that's too hot.

Puerto Rico No Burn
Sweet flesh with no heat. A hint of warmth in the ribs with an aromatic hint of tropical fruit. Ate a half of a chile easily. Very nice flavor, the best so far. Maybe a 1 on the heat scale. Highly recommended.

Thicker flesh than usual for a chinense. Sweet with only the barest hint of warmth. Ribs have a touch more warmth. Not very aromatic, lacks a lot of the characteristic aromas and flavors of most chinense peppers. About 0.25 on the heat scale. Boring, not recommended.

Grenada Seasoning
Flesh sweet with no heat. Ribs have mild warmth and all the characteristic chinense flavor and aroma. Delicious eaten in its entirety. About a 1 on the 0 to 10 scale. Highly recommended for its flavor, but I would probably supplement with a spicier chile when cooking with it.

Flesh has a hint of heat and some aromatic flavor. Ribs more spice that builds... I had to reach for the beer and a slice of bread. My nose started to run, but at least I didn't break out into a sweat. Very flavorful and highly recommended. I would guess about a 4+ on the 0 to 10 scale.

This one isn't in the photo above, and it's not a mild chinense anway, it's downright HOT. I sliced one in two like all the rest of the chiles and took one half by the stem and raised it to my nose. That's the first step I take when tasting any chile, especially for the first time. The Datil pepper is wonderfully aromatic, OK, I'm not good at describing it in better terms, aromatic meaning very fruity and with a wiff of smokiness. My nose started to tingle ever so slightly. I know from experience that that slight tingle in the nose means hell on the tongue. I sliced off a sliver of flesh and placed it on my tongue. Instant intense flavor, the aroma times 5, fabulous. Then a second or 2 later my tongue started to register warmth... I removed the slice from my tongue, no spitting, it spreads the heat around. The warmth started to grow. It got hot. My nose started to run again. Whew! What devilish pleasure... I can't tell you where this one stands on the heat scale, but it's hotter than what I can usually tolerate and I didn't even try the ribs where most of the heat usually resides. In spite of the heat I give this chile a thumbs up. One, sans seeds and ribs, would be wonderful mixed in with some of the wimpy, um, mild chinense peppers as a flavor and spice booster.

This is just part one, there are some baccatuum chiles in the garden and a couple more chinense. I did harvest some Habanero Long Chocolates but wimped out on tasting them today. So stay tuned for a future chile tasting post. In the meantime my tastebuds have to recover from that Datil...

Also, bear in mind that soil, climate, water, etc. can have a significant effect on the flavor and spiciness of chile peppers. So if you grow any of these chiles your results may vary. Not only that, but everyone has a different tolerance for chile heat, I am probably a bit more tolerant than average, but nowhere near as tolerant as a true "chilehead", again, your results may vary...

And for Christina, there's one mild chinense chile that I didn't grow this year that I have really enjoyed in the past and highly recommend - Datil Sweet. It's very mild but very flavorful. I've made a pepper jam with it a few times and after the first batch I added some spicey chiles to boost the heat. It's ususally available from Cross Country Nurseries as a mail order plant, although I might be persuaded to part with a few seeds that I saved last year.

The chiles described above came from either Cross Country Nurseries (live plants, mail order) or Peppermania.com (seeds). See the side bar for links.

Chiles Rule! (As my former fellow master gardener chilehead friends like to proclaim.)


  1. You really do love your chilis don't you? I don't think I've ever known anyone that grows as many varieties (and I know those are just the chinense species).

  2. I don't know how I'd use that many. Hot goes a long way for me!

  3. Wow, Michelle. Your seed collection must be off the charts! You will have to let me know how you store them to keep them viable. I'm assuming you don't grow every single variety each year?

  4. Daphne, a few years of volunteering with the Master Gardener chilehead bunch got me hooked. Once you experience something other than the "ususal varieties", there's no going back. I haven't grown a jalapeno in a long time.


    Stefani, you might be surprised at how addicting chiles can be. The more you eat the easier it gets, and then you can't get enough! Even so, I tend to grow chiles that are on the mild side, it keeps heartburn to a minimum.


    Thomas, I do have a lot of seeds since I'm always trying new veggies. I don't save the seeds of everything I grow though. It has to be something that I particulary like that is hard to find to make me go to the effort of saving seeds. So far as preserving the seeds... keep them dry, cool, and away from sunlight. Mine are kept in the original seed packet and grouped into ziploc bags by general type, and kept in a covered box in a cool closet. Seeds that I saved are kept in envelopes or jars, depending on their size. It seems to work. I don't grow everything every year and I don't feel compelled to go through a whole pack of seeds if I didn't like it.

  5. Wow, this is fascinating reading. I'm just getting started in exploring chilies. I have a very hot chili that the grandmother of one of my students brought back with her from China. It is very, very hot without much other flavor than heat, but it makes great chili flakes. I don't know exactly what kind it is, but it looks like pictures I've seen of Goat Weed chilies; it has beautiful silvery, fuzzy foliage and chilies that start black and turn red when ripe. I also grow Fish Peppers and a couple different sweet peppers. I can't wait to branch out this year into the chinense and baccatum realms. Thanks also for recommending seed sources.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I value your insights and feedback.