Figuring Out Peppers

Peppers are always a lot of fun to grow because there are so many different types. In our Family of 4 Garden this year, we have bell peppers, Italian roasting peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos, sweet snack peppers, and chili peppers. In the Asian Garden, we have 3 different peppers: Shishito, Sapporo Hot, and Yatsufusa. Now, I think most of us are familiar enough with most peppers that we can pretty much figure out what to do with the peppers in the Family of 4 Garden. The peppers in the Asian Garden are a completely different story!

The trick with these Asian peppers is that they don’t really look or behave like most of the peppers that we are used to. They have much thinner walls, more seeds, and it’s just hard to know when they should be picked and how they should be used.

Yesterday we went back to the catalog to try and determine what to do with all these different peppers.

These are some of the Shishito Peppers. Here’s the description from Kitazawa Seed Catalog:

” This mini, sweet-hot, thin-walled green pepper is popular in Japan…These 3″-4″ long peppers with wrinkled skin are used in tempura, yakitori or stir-fries. High in vitamins A and C, these peppers are hotter than bell peppers, but not as hot as chili peppers.”

So obviously they are starting to turn red on us, which means that theoretically they are past the typical harvest stage. The fruits are about the right size, and they are very wrinkled, almost like there isn’t anything inside them to fill them out. To me, they taste a little bit “green”. As in not-yet-ready green. Definitely not hot though. Maybe the key is to cook them? We’ll have to give that a try. This variety is a heavy producer so far, which is nice. Or it will be once we figure out how to cook them.

Next we have Sapporo Hot. Here’s the catalog description:

“This medium-hot pepper is a Japanese specialty. Tapered fruits, which set downward and grow to a length of 5″, start out a medium green color and ripen to red…These peppers can be used fresh for cooking if harvested young, while they are still green. Mature fruits are best dried.”

So from the description, it’s definitely a safe bet to let these peppers go red and dry. Some of the older ones are starting to turn red. However, they don’t seem to stay “juicy” when they turn, they actually start drying on the plant as they turn red. Like the Shishito peppers, these seem to have very thin walls, but packed full of seeds. As green peppers, they have a rather floral flavor, but a level of heat that is rather comparable to a very hot serrano pepper. My mouth is still tingling from the one bite I took!

The third pepper we’re trying out this year is Yatsufusa. This pepper is pretty similar in appearance to a Thai Chili pepper…the little skinny ones that you only need 1 for a whole stir fry. Here’s the catalog description:

“This popular Japanese hot specialty pepper is know as “chilies Japones.” Fruits set upward growing to 2″-3″ long with 5-6 fruits per cluster…The young green peppers ad a little fire to stir-fries, soups or curries. The hotter, mature peppers are typically dried.”

I think our Yatsufusa peppers are definitely getting close to turning red. And I don’t love y’all enough to taste one of these guys, even green. Sorry. Maybe I’ll give it a try next time I’m planning to make an Asian dish. Actually, I think we’ll have enough hot peppers that I could make stir-fry every day for the rest of the summer!

About Rebecca

I'm a Horticulture Educator with Sedgwick County Extension, a branch of K-State Research and Extension, located in Wichita, KS. I teach about fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Posted on June 30, 2010, in Around the Garden and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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