Bracing for the tabasco pepper harvest.

I made an impulse buy at the Farmer’s Market and brought home a tabasco pepper plant for the pot on my front porch, mostly because the stall proprietor recommended it as good choice to grow in a container. It’s a handsome plant with dark green, glossy leaves and it seems to really love the full sun on the porch. It’s growing like gangbusters, and has just produced some blossoms.

In anticipation of the first fruits, did a little research, and looks like these guys are going to pretty powerful, with a Scoville rating 15,000-30,000, hotter than serranos but not as hot as habeneros. Not something you want to chop up and toss into a stir-fry or curry, I think, which was my original intention in getting a pepper plant. (Note to self: either do research before buying, get a name you recognize, or take the nice Farmer’s-Market lady at her word when she warns you that this variety is very hot.)

What should I do with them? I’m planning to dry some, and also make some chili-infused oil. (My mom she sent me a bottle of same that I dubbed “Satan’s Own Chili Oil,” and at last I have the opportunity to pay her back. :wink: ) The hubby has requested raspberry-pepper jam. I was also thinking of putting up some salsa or some good, hot chutney.

No matter what, I’m wearing rubber gloves to process these babies!

Anybody have any good recipes or suggestions for use?

What are Tabasco chilis? (Tabasco® is a registered trademark of McIlhenny Co., Avery Is., LA.) The ingredients on my bottle just says ‘red chilis’.

I’d like to grow Thai chilis. They have a nice flavour, and are nice and hot.

Tabasco chilis are simply the name of the chilis used to make Tabasco sauce. Tabasco may be a brand name, but it’s also a variety. Whether this is a “registered” varietal name or not, I’ve no clue, but if you go to hot pepper sites, like Pepper Joe’s they list that type of seed.

I’m not related to Pepper Joes in any way except being a customer. I can’t wait for the Peter Pepper harvest to come! :smiley:

I’ve got 20 feet of peppers in my garden, and make my own hot sauces with them. I simply dry them, remove as many of the seeds as I can, and mix in a blender with vinegar, salt, garlic powder, and sugar. Add more sugar to reduce the heat (I actually use corn syrup). You can also dry them and crush them up for pizza topping.

They are also a nice bright red when ripe, and can be dried to make a very decorative addition to wreaths and the like (or so Mrs. Butler says)


The name of the pepper comes from the Mexican state of Tabasco, and the McIlhenny’s used the name of the pepper variety as the name of their sauce.

And speaking of which, sauce is of course the obvious application! :smack: It’s nice to hear that you use dried peppers for the sauce, butler. That means I can just dry them as they ripen, then make sauce at my leisure. I shall be certain not to overlook the decorative possiblities, as well!

I believe it was in the 1840’s that Tabasco peppers were brought to Louisiana from Tabasco, Mexico.

Smart move by McIlhenny, registering his Tabasco brand hot pepper sauce. Anyone can make a Tabasco hot pepper sauce, but no one can call it a Tabasco hot pepper sauce.

Good thing these peppers didn’t originate in Tabasco, France. McIlhenny would have a fight on his hands.

Always good to practice safe seed.

They’re fine for stir-fry. It all depends on your heat tolerance, but I normally stir-fry with Thai birds’-eye chiles, which have a Scoville rating of 50,000-225,000. Just don’t use as many if you’re particularly sensitive.

Last year I grew three plants’ worth of Thai dragons. Talk about chile overload! Those suckers tasted dang near as hot as habaneros, though I can’t cite any Scoville data to back that.

I found I liked the flavor of a ripe, red Thai dragon in a Mexican salsa much more than a grocery store serrano. There’s something about the taste of them that’s addicting and complex. Just be sure to use less of your smaller, more powerful chiles in the recipe, unless you have an asbestos stomach.

They’re also good in tropical fruit salsas, like mango or papaya.

Interesting. I’d never heard of a Tabasco chili before.

Those look like the ones I’m thinking of when I say ‘Thai chilis’. I’ve been jonzin’ for those puppies! I haven’t seen them up here. You’re right. There’s something elusive about their flavour that makes them addicting.

Habanero peppers as a “really hot” thing to compare them to?

Pah. Amateurs.

A true capseicin connoiseur would not settle for anything less than the extract of a red savina pepper. For those of you who have been living in a cave for the last 10 years, red savina is a mutant strain from hell of the ordinary, garden-variety habanero. The average red savina pepper has a Scoville rating of nearly 350,000. This is hotter than Dave’s Insanity Sauce, Private Reserve. The extract of this pepper could easily clear a million Scoville, and could probably be used for nuclear fusion research.

Yeah, I found out 3 plants worth of thai’s is a freakin’ bumber crop!

Here in the Northeast, chilis are an annual crop, but I’ve learned they do extremely well as a potted plant and can be over-wintered indoors. This gives you an enormous jump on the following growing season. Aphids are a major problem and have made me break my organic rules (I can’t convince Mrs. Sleeepy to release ladybugs in the house).

My potted peppers are way more prolific than the ones I re-planted in the ground, so next year all my chilis will be in pots. I’ve strung and dried hundreds of chilis, but the taste of a fresh picked pepper… mmm…

Even green, they have a bracing taste that adds an interesting dimension to recipes.

Aaahhh…gardening… :slight_smile:

Tabasco chiles are capsicum frutescens, which is a different species from most other chiles (capsicum annuum) and also from the habañero/Scotch bonnet/red savina type (capsicum chinense). One interesting thing about tabasco chiles is that they’re very juicy - I believe it’s possible to squeeze juice out of them with one’s bare fingers. Given this, it would be a shame to dry them. Why not try making your own sauce by putting them in a blender with some vinegar or lime juice?

A while back, a hurricane brought flooding to that part of Mexico. The unforgettable headline in the newspaper said, “Alligators in the Streets of Tabasco.” Sweet Mercy Magruder, what an image!

Not only do I dry them, they are incredibly easy to dry. Simply put in a basket, cover with a cheese cloth (to keep off dust), and shake the basket a couple of times a day. That will agitate them, and keep them rotating around.

I’ve recently made hot sauce with 3 year old peppers, so they certainly don’t lose much “kick” over that much time. Drying will also remove some of the “green” flavor that you can get (and fresh adds too much water anyway) using fresh peppers. For hot sauce, dried is the only way to go, then you can use the liquid component to really carry flavors (vinegars, sugars, garlic, etc…)

Play around, kept in the refridgerator, they pretty much keep forever. I bottle in old vinegar bottles (which I’ve probably just used to make the stuff in the first place!)

As always in a hot pepper thread ALWAYS USE GLOVES, AND DON’T TOUCH ANYBODY’S MUCUS MEMBRANES (or sensitive bits) AFTER HANDLING HOT PEPPERS. (Trust me on this one) :eek: :eek: :eek:

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I really don’t know how much yield I’ll get off this one plant, but judging from the fact that it seems to be a really, really happy plant, I’m guessing lots and lots. I had a spindly tomato in that pot last summer, and spent an inordinate amount of energy nursing it along in order to get three very sad little fruits in September, so I’m surprised and pleased that Señor Tabasco has taken to container life with such zeal.

I’ll try them in stirfry some night when we’re feeling adventurous, with lots of plain rice on hand, just in case. And I’ll try fresh pepper sauce, and dried, too. I have friends who would be delighted to provide a good home to any surplus sauce.

sleepy2, if I take the pot in for the winter, it will want a nice sunny place, yes? Our apartment gets really poor light; the only south-facing windows are small ones in the kitchen, and the front door. Maybe I could park it in the entryway . . . The Farmer’s Market lady said it was a late-season plant, and might not be done fruiting by the first frost.

I put my pots in the basement with an artificial light. If you have room in your apartment for a space with an overhead light, this would be ideal. Don’t fall for the “gardener’s green light” hornswaggle. A regular office type fluorescent bulb is the best thing for indoor plants. You should put the lights as close as possible to the peppers, even if they touch the bulb it’s OK, they’re cool bulbs.

Ideally the plants should be kept warm, but I let mine get fairly cool in the unheated basement over the winter. I’m not looking for winter peppers, I just want to keep my plants healthy, and they do fine.

Do watch out for aphids. I suppose they are always on your plants but natural predators keep them at bay. You can get quite an infestation indoors, and I’ve had to respond with (shudder) commercial insecticide. I guess Ladybugs would be ideal, but I can’t convince the wife to let me release a bag of beetles in the basement :frowning:

Good luck! Chilis make an excllent houseplant!

I can tell you from experience, chilis are a four season crop as long as conditions (natural or artificial) are acceptable. I’ve harvested “basement peppers” in January.

Depends what you want the plant to do, and what conditions you can give it. When I lived in a house with a large sunroom, I grew habaneros all winter long. I had warm sunny days and the plant kept blooming and producing fruit.

But what you’ll probably end up doing is keeping the plant alive, but giving it a winter rest period, until spring. You’ll want to place it where it gets light, but the temps don’t get too hot, but also not too cold. The plant should stop growing, and you’d withhold watering except to keep the soil from drying out completely. No fertilizer. The plant rests, or goes more or less dormant over the winter, without dying off, then resumes growth in the spring, when you put it back outside and it has a big jump start on other peppers just sprouting from seed.

FYI- I usually un-pot my peppers and put them in the ground for the summer. This year I put 3 plants in the ground and kept 3 in pots. The potted peppers are outperforming inground plants so much that next year they will all stay potted.

My understanding is the potted soil is much warmer than in ground, and peppers thrive in the warm soil.

Jeepers, it’s like buying a parrot! I figgered it would kick off in the autumn and I’d be freed from responsibility! :wink:

I guess we’ll see how much we like the peppers. If we get addicted, I’ll invest in a lamp . . . and everybodys hot chili sauce for Christmas.