Jalapenos are good. Robust. Hearty. But if it’s hot, they’re not standing is some wet sandy loam, they get droopy. It’s embarrassing.
Habaneros are cool. But they are so damn hot you can hardly eat them. You can mince them and sprinkle the pieces on a quesadilla, or adulterate one with five tomatoes and a dozen onions to make a salsa, but for daily, fresh from the bush eating, habaneros are too much.
They look good, though. And they’re a lot of fun at parties.
Here’s my recommendation: chile pequin. The plants look great, if maybe a little spindly, but they don’t get wilted in the heat.
And they’re plenty hot, clocking in at 60,000 to 100,000 Scoville units. That’s paint-peeling hot. That chile pequin is also a lot of fun at parties.
Chile pequin is a good backpacking chile. Small. Powerful. Lightweight. And dried, you can crumble some on any bland food you need to liven up. Like airplane food.
I have ten chile pequin plants in my backyard right now. I grew nine from seeds. One was a gift, labelled, erroneously, chiltipin. Chiltipin are the round ones. Chile pequin are pointier.
To grow chile pequin from seeds, go to you neighborhood ethnic grocery store. Buy that cellophane packet of chiles. Take 10 or 15 and put them in the freezer. Conventional folk wisdom says they need to freeze before they germinate. Crush the chiles and separate the seeds. I started mine in little pots, barely buried in the dirt, like beneath an eighth of an inch. Water delicately, so as to not disturb the dirt, when the soil gets dry.
The conditions are really crucial. Most of my plants came up from only a few pots, but I separated and replanted them when they got bigger.
Chiles are perennials. I had one chile pequin volunteer out of the shrubs at my old house on Clifton, and it lasted years. The trick is to water them over the winter, and the internet says to trim them, but I don’t know about that.
Here’s a neat party trick. Slip a handful of dried chile pequin into the Chex mix at the next office get together.
Now that’s a lot of fun.