If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Grow for Flavour!

As the gardening industry gets set to celebrate 2018 as the year of the pepper, Mr Fothergill’s calls on gardeners to forget about the fire and instead explore the many fine flavours found in the chilli kingdom

If the heat of a hot curry just isn’t your thing, growing the world’s hottest chilli isn’t going to hold much appeal, but if you’ve never grown chillies for that reason you really are missing out. With the industry turning its attention to capiscums in the 2018 Year of the Pepper, Mr Fothergill’s is keen to point out that just as sweet peppers have different flavours (orange cultivars are noticeably sweeter than red ones, and green ones have a level of bitterness) so too do the hotter chillies.

In fact, among the commonly cultivated species, C. annuum, chinense and baccatum, there are thousands of cultivars, representing not only many different heat levels but also flavours; from sweet to sour and smoky to fruity.

Biquino Yellow
The Suffolk seed specialist trials around 100 varieties each year, assessing them not only on greenhouse and garden performance but also on flavour. Mr Fothergill’s trials manager, Alison Mulvaney explains: “While the majority of popular chilli peppers stem from Capsicum annuum, gardeners and cooks really are missing out by not exploring the flavours found among other species. We work with the top chilli breeders in the UK to find the best flavours and the best plants suited to UK growing conditions. The recent introduction of Capsicum annuum Biquino Yellow to our range is a perfect example of a chilli chosen for flavour not heat. This mild Brazilian pepper carries an interesting smoky flavour with just a little heat to add a mild spice and aroma to any dish.”
Havana Gold
Outside of C. annuum, mild Peruvian ‘Aji’ chillies are taking centre stage with chefs at the moment. These Capsicum baccatum varieties produce an abundance of medium sized chillies with a sweet, fruity flavour laid over a mild, medium heat. Havana Gold is new for this season and is a good introduction to the Ajis, providing a complex fruity flavour and manageable, mild heat.

Capsicum chinense is the dominant species in the Caribbean, with fiery habaneros and scotch bonnets widely used across the islands to bring a unique balance of sweet, sour and fruitiness to dishes along with intense heat. But there are also varieties among the species that carry the pungent flavours with no heat, such as Trinidad Perfume.

If you are looking for more flavour than heat from your chillies in 2018, look out for Mr Fothergill’s varieties that carry a one chilli rating, denoting a milder, spicy heat, rather than a three chilli rating denoting the hottest types in the range.

For more information on Mr Fothergill’s range or to request a catalogue, please visit:
www.mr-fothergills.co.uk or telephone 0845 371 0518
or write to Mr Fothergill’s, Gazeley Road, Kentford, Suffolk CB8 7QB.