August 27, 2021
My Poblano pepper has been giving me loads of tiny peppers and my two Jalapeno peppers have slowed down now that it is so hot. I end up watering every morning and hoping they can make it through the day. I have tried watering at night, but it does not cool off until nearly sundown and I do not like them to sit in the damp overnight (root rot). Yesterday I decided to harvest everything that looked ripe even if it was small. I ended up with a pile of peppers, split about half and half between the jalapenos and poblanos. The easy part was picking, now I had to decide what to do with them.
When I looked online, I found the genus Capsicum is native to southern North America and northern South America. The species (Capsicum annuum) encompasses a wide variety of shapes and sizes of peppers (mild and hot), such as bell peppers, jalapenos, and poblanos. the spiciness of a pepper is caused by the amount of capsaicin present in the pepper. The more capsaicin, the hotter the pepper. The poblano generally has less capsaicin and is milder than the Jalapeno. Fresh poblanos have a mild, slightly sweet flavor, although if they are left to ripen until they’re red, they taste much hotter. Dried poblano peppers that are fully ripe and deep red are known as ancho chiles. A mature jalapeno pepper will also turn red, and when dried is known as a chipotle pepper. Many of my jalapenos and poblanos had turned red, meaning they are both hotter.
Last year I received a bag of jalapeno peppers from my gardener friend. When I cut them up to freeze along with mine, I had four one-quart zip locks that lasted through the winter. I found out something else as well. Never spend an hour cutting jalapenos without wearing gloves. My hands burned for the rest of the day. This time I did not have as many peppers to cut, but I did have the poblanos to process. I retrieved a pair of nitrile gloves from the garage to be safe. Thirty minutes after I finished cutting the peppers, my hands again began to burn. It was not as much as last year, and it went away sooner, but it was still very noticeable. At least I had been smart enough to put my contact in prior to cutting. There is nothing quite as exciting as jalapeno eye (or poblano!).
Thoughts: After chopping the jalapenos I divided them into two freezer bags to store for later. Next, I tasted one of the poblano peppers to test the level of heat. It was palatable, so I decided to make my poblano casserole. This is a variation on stuffed peppers but uses cut up pieces of peppers covered with a sausage, rice, and cheese mixture. When I researched the types of peppers, I was surprised to find they were all varieties of the same species. Each variety of pepper look completely different and vary in the amount of spiciness. Even peppers from the same plant can vary depending on the amount of water they receive and how long they are left to mature. When dried they are given a different name, even though it is the same pepper. It struck me that peppers are a lot like humans. Depending on our variety, how we are raised, how we mature, and our living conditions, dramatically alter how we look and behave. Yet we are all the same species. Do the work. Change is coming and it starts with you.