For me, growing peppers is the most gratifying and fun item to grow, and thus grow a plethora of varieties each year. Once peak season hits, I invite friends to partake in my annual Hot Pepper Challenge. Most who join only come over to laugh their asses off though… I pick pods from about 30 different varieties, display them in rank of heat level, and pick one of them to be the challenge pepper. I usually pick one that is really hot but not beyond insanity. That way the participants can actually get a feel of the flavor and consistency of the fruit before going into fight or flight mode. Last year I chose Bahamian Goat and the year before that Aji Chombo. Fun times.
I have a few peppers I’ve grown to love over the years which I grow every season, so I figured I would list a few.
This is the pepper I can’t live without. It is strictly for drying or roasted in salsa. Its engraved skin is tough and the walls are thin, so eating it fresh is not a pleasant experience. But it is beyond spectacular dried. The heat is on par with jalapeno, maybe a tad hotter. The major downfall of this variety is that its growing pattern. Very far between nodes and it’s spindly like nothing else. Not even pruning and/or FIMing/topping helps. It requires staking and it is close to a nightmare to grow. But the fruits are so worth it and it will always have the larges footprint in my garden.
Yet another mild pepper. If well watered, the pods are sweet with very little heat. Stress it out and they develop a heat double that of a jalapeno. I have never grown a pepper more suitable for hot sauce. It’s sweet and fragrant. The taste is fantastic. I have yet to ferment them so I can’t comment on that, but in vinegar based sauces it’s excellent. Especially with ACV. The pods are also great directly from the plant and is therefore a common snacking pepper for the entire family while puttering around in the garden. Will try to use it in anything peppers may do well this season. I sadly could not find a picture I took myself, but will replace this image once I do.
Not close to any extreme levels, but this peppers is on par with Mustard Habanero and in many cases, more than that. It features no bitterness and is very fruity. Both in the nose and taste. If you like a pepper with heat and lots of character, this is a great choice. It’s great fresh (the flesh is rather thick but be prepared for the hiccups) and in sauce (both fermented and cooked). It’s very prolific and the plant grows easily up to 4 feet tall and almost as wide.
Aji Lemon (Lemondrop)
Like with most Baccatum varieties, Aji Lemon is ridiculously prolific. One plant throws out hundreds of pods each season and it is easy to overwinter in warmer climates. This year, it survived multiple light frosts. Heat varies from Jalapeno to near Habanero but will in general not catch you off guard. This pepper is great in both sauces and dried and fits the bill particularly great with fish. While there really isn’t a lemon flavor per se, the aroma is strongly hinting citrus fruit. One plant is all that is needed to personal use. Pictured is a ferment I mad by the end of the year along with Aji Charapita (a very interesting tiny/wild pepper with flavor between Habanero and Scotch Bonnet).
OTHER WORTHY MENTIONS:
MOA Scotch Bonnet
Goat Horn Prepare to swim in peppers. Double jalapeno’s heat, looks like a cayenne.
Chocolate Bhutlah (use extreme caution with this potentially hottest pepper on earth)
Pizza Pepper (near mild, so it may not fit in this thread)
Aji Peach (Sugar Rush Peach) Extraordinary pepper that produces like there is no tomorrow.