Its feeling a bit Chilli

We have over 8 different varieties of chilli peppers growing in our garden and for sale on our nursery. They are really easy to grow outside because they do not suffer from many pests and diseases and will start cropping in July, last year we were still harvesting in November! You can download our list of varieties below the recipes, the plants are ready to plant out and starting to flower.

We love hot chillies but there are plenty of mild varieties too so we grow a mixture for different uses. We are self sufficient in chillies and make a variety of pickles and sauces, I am often asked to share my recipes for sauces, preserving, pickling and freezing them so that you can also enjoy all year round heat! Here are some of my favourite, easy recipes:

Pickled Jalapenos: This is super easy and gives you a supply of sweet, mild chilli slices for going on pizza, salads, sandwiches, veggi bakes etc. Sterilise some jars, slice some fresh Jalapenos into 5mm slices (they can be red for a hotter flavour, or green for a milder experience, or a mix of both) and pack them into the sterilised jars. Put sufficient vinegar in a pan to fill the jars – I use red wine vinegar or cider vinegar – add some sugar, about one dessert spoon per jar (brown sugar is best but white will do) and some spices such as a couple of bay leaves, a few black pepper corns, a couple of cloves, some allspice, a clove of garlic, whatever you have in the cupboard, bring the vinegar to a simmer and then immediately pour over the chillies to fill the jars, making sure the chilli slices are well covered. Allow to cool then store in a cool dark cupboard for at least a couple of months before opening.

Pickled Peppadews: These little round chillies are great pickled and then stuffed with cream cheese, or a mix of cream cheese and chopped cornichons or tuna, (or both) and served as an aperitif. They are slightly more difficult to prepare than the Jalapenos because you need to slice off the top end (with the stalk) scoop out the seeds and then soak in brine overnight before you can pickle them. After 24-36 hours you need to rinse them well, then the rest of the recipe is as for the Jalapenos.

Chilli Sauce: This is pretty easy, I put a variety of hot chillies in a roasting tin (I leave the small ones whole and cut the bigger varieties in half) with some onions chopped into quarters and some tomatoes chopped in half. This is a good way of using up the last of the harvest before the first frosts and the quantities will depend on how many you have left, the more tomatoes you add, the more liquid the sauce will be. Drizzle some olive oil over the mix of veg and add some herbs/garlic/spices to taste and roast in a hot oven for about 40-50 minutes until they are soft and starting to take some colour. Then add them to a pan, add some vinegar to about half the volume of the chilli/onion/tomato mix and add some sugar (I never measure, just a heaped dessert spoon per jar’s worth of the mix) bring to a simmer and let the mix simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Let it cool for a while then whiz up in a blender. I always then strain out the skins & seeds etc to make a smooth sauce, its a bit of a faff but it is worth the effort. Then pour into sterilised bottles or jars, screw the lids on tightly ……. and wait a couple of months.

Chillies also freeze really well so I always have a stock of cayenne peppers and other varieties, just put them in a plastic tub or zip top freezer bag, and then freeze, they will keep for up to a year. They can also be threaded onto strings and dried, I use a sewing needle and strong thread.

Chillies need plenty of sunshine to warm the soil for good root establishment and growth and also to ripen the fruits. They can suffer from blossom end rot like tomatoes where the base of the fruit goes black and sunken, this is due to a lack of calcium so they do best in mineral soils rather than in containers in potting compost where they can also lack water. When planted in the ground it is best to mulch them to keep the soil moist, we use grass clippings which also add nitrogen to the soil as they break down.

Download our chilli plant list here, we are open 10am-4pm on Saturdays:

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