Here in San Diego, pepper plants are perennial and this Bolivian Criolla Sella plant has been growing for 2 years. It continues to crank out the peppers. We have already dried and crushed enough peppers to last us a year and have another bag of dried peppers ready to be used somehow…
I got these seeds as a gift packet from Seeds of Change, but apparently, they’ve discontinued sales of this particular variety. I just did a quick search and they are still available through a few heirloom seed vendors. (Not very common, though – it’s been a while since something I googled had fewer than 25K hits.)
At 70,000 Scoville heat units (I’ve seen estimated SHU from 30K to 100K), this Bolivian chile is not one that I want to munch like candy, but a friend did and pronounced them ‘tasty – a little sweet, kinda fruity’. One review said that the flavor is ‘distinctly pineapple’. Don’t know about that, but I do really like the heat. I call it a clean burn. They don’t fry your lips and tongue, but give you some heat in the chest. You can still taste the food you’re eating and enjoy the complimentary heat.
Given the abundance of the plant, we have to share the wealth. I’ve taken some into work and had the favor returned with some delicious salsa in the office kitchen. We gave some to a neighbor and got back some outstanding infused oil. We used that oil in everything – well, maybe not everything… but it added so much to dishes from scrambled eggs (not ours yet) to pasta. Very nice kick. So I went and asked for the recipe. It may take a little experimentation or a demonstration to get the details right – he said he’s not even really sure how he makes it – it just happens. But, to the best of his recollection, here’s how it goes (Thanks, Alan!):
Heat some EVOO – really hot
Turn off the heat and start adding the goodies:
Add the chopped fresh peppers – wait 5 minutes
Add some ground black pepper – wait 5 minutes
Add some salt
If you’re going to add garlic, add it a little later and go easy because it can overwhelm the rest of the flavors
Let it all cool
After it’s cooled down, strain it and put it in a jar to store it.
Use liberally and happily. What’s your favorite way to use hot peppers?