Surprisingly, considering where we live, one of our most dependable crops is the pepper. With partial sun, sometimes rainy cold summers, and early and late frosts you would think they would be more of a novelty crop. So what's your trick Mike? I don't really know, luck and a really early start I suppose. Now before I brag too much let me say that although I have high hopes this year we hardly ever see any of those wonderful peppers turn red on the vine. The chocolate (purple beauty) and yellow banana peppers usually turn for us but the red bells, Marconi, and Italian, rarely vine ripen. We do have some luck getting the more mature ones to ripen off the vine if the plant is pulled and hung in the greenhouse or on our porch towards the end of the season. This works especially well for small bells and hot peppers.
We are growing 14 different varieties trying to find the ones that do best for us. At this point there are a few clear leaders in this year's batch:
Red Belgian is tied for first place, an extremely early and productive pepper. It's only fault may lie in the fact that the plant seems to have serious issues supporting it's own fruit.
Sweet chocolate is easily my favorite this year, a sturdy plant producing large quantities of peppers. I believe it was the first to produce this year and all of the plants look healthy and are loaded with fruit.
Mini red bell is a prolific producer of numerous small round peppers, perfect for pickling.
Yellow banana is our faithful standby, a constant producer of storage quality elongated peppers.
Pepperoncini, perfect for canning whole or using in various Italian dishes.
Sweet Italian is a beautiful pepper, but only fairly productive in our gardens.
California wonder is outperforming this year but tends to lag behind on the cooler years.
New to us, red-orange mini peppers straight from the organic section of a grocery store seem to be doing extremely well.
Red organic #2 from last year's local farmers market is also showing it's stuff. Really packing them on...to the point that I'm not sure how to get them off.:)
Fresh in salads, as a pizza condiment, or pickled right along with the dills, we love peppers any way we can get them. The jars in the background were canned a few days ago and we are preparing to do few more this afternoon (actually yesterday afternoon). We like to pickle the peppers and cucumbers at the same time. Horseradish, dill, fresh grape leaves, garlic, and a few red pepper flakes make up the spices. We do have luck storing fresh peppers and eggplants all the way into January sometimes but the rest are frozen, dried, or canned.
Toppings for a simple pizza pie we made last week. What pizza is complete without a few peppers?