Wednesday, August 21, 2013

In Late Summer, Clown Pepper Steals the Show



Right now the star of our vegetable garden is definitely our 5-foot clown pepper "tree." It's loaded with shiny green, orange, and bright red bells that dangle from the branches just like Christmas ornaments. It's really a sight to see. I call it a clown pepper because the fruits remind me of clown noses, but it's probably more commonly known as a joker's hat, bishop's hat, Christmas bell, or chapeau de frade.

My source for clown peppers is my trusty mom, who is a very patient, thrifty gardener (unlike me). She saves seeds from her own clown peppers, which she grows in big pots on her driveway, and plants them in spring. Every April I’m presented with three or four little potted seedlings. My beloved 5-foot pepper tree started life this way, in the spring of 2012. It survived the mild winter of 2012-2013, so now it’s more than a year and a half old, an old, old man by pepper standards.

This is one tough plant, and it’s so productive. It’s a late-season pepper and will fruit until frost. Last year I had so many clown peppers at Christmastime that I picked a whole basket and brought them with me to St. George Island so they could be a part of my family's Christmas feast. (We always go to St. George at Christmastime.) I made tacos with them, and my brother-in-law, Matt, used them in his fancy sweet-potato quesadillas.

The fruits are three-lobed and very shiny. They start out green and ripen to a beautiful Santa's-hat red. The flavor is really delicious. The lobes are mild, sweet, and fruity, with a subtle citrus note. The closer you come to the seeds, the hotter the pepper gets. If you eat the seeds or the seed chamber, your tongue will definitely be burning.

One day I was at work and I’d forgotten my lunch. I was starving, so at lunchtime I headed over to my sister Bunny’s house and “stole” some clown peppers out of her garden. Bunny’s house is pretty close to my office (unlike my own house), and she has clown peppers galore. So, yes, what I'm saying is I stood there in my business attire in Bunny's yard while she wasn’t at home and ate plain clown peppers for lunch. That’s how tasty clown peppers are . . . and how weird I am.





9 comments:

  1. Ha! Little did your sister know that she saved the day!

    What a great addition to the garden!

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  2. They look more like bells than bell peppers do! I've never heard of this variety. Pretty amazing that it seems to want to be a perennial.

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  3. Those are really neat looking peppers and sound delicious.

    FlowerLady

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  4. See, now I thought you were a little weird being a vegan . . . but itty bitty peppers for lunch takes it to a whole other level! I'm afraid I'd have performed a little B&E (breaking and entering) and prayed my dear sister had something a little more filling ~ you know, like doritos or something. :-)

    I'm going to have to see if I can find some seeds. I love growing peppers, especially ones that look this cool.

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  5. ^ Oh and I was only kidding about the vegan thing. I admire any vegan - truth be told, I'm quite envious.

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  6. What pretty peppers! I've never heard of this variety before but I really like them. Such a vibrant red color!

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  7. What pretty little bell-shaped peppers. Your sister's neighbors must have wondered a little about you standing there eating peppers off the bush (LOL). You always come up with plants I've never heard of. It's hard to believe there's that much difference between our zones in Florida that we have such different plants.

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  8. I just saw this pepper for the first time in the neighbor's yard of a beach house my friend rented. They are the best peppers I have ever eaten!! Just when you think "hmmm.. this is starting to get HOT" they turn super sweet and they leave a great flavor in your mouth. Fortunately a couple of the neighbor's peppers fell off right in my hand (lol) and I can't wait to try and grow some plants from the seeds.

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  9. I have one in a pot that is 3-years old.

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