Chile peppers are amazing plants. I started this small business after being urged by coworkers to turn my obsession with these fiery fruits into something bigger. It makes me happy to share the fun of eating/growing chile peppers with anyone that will lend an ear.
My name is Francesco Caruana. I love gardening, chile peppers, and I have way more plants than I should.
My goal is to share the fruits of my labor with anyone interested (and brave enough) to try it. I love this hobby and am excited to have taken the advice of friends all around and turn it into a little business. I grow all kinds of pepper plants ranging from mild Poblanos up to the super-hot Guinness World Record pepper, the Carolina Reaper.
You can email me at the company email to talk directly with me about anything peppers. Is something wrong with your plant and you want my advice? How hot should you expect a certain pepper to be? What should you do with your peppers now that you have them? How can you calm down the burn? These are all great questions, and I will do my best to answer them in a timely and informative fashion. Don't hesitate to ask any questions regarding products or general pepper stuff. I enjoy talking about it and learning new things from those who also love the hobby.
Things you can do with your peppers
I get asked this question all the time. "What are you going to do with them all?" The truth is you can do tons of things with them, more than you can do with tomatoes, corn... any other fruits or vegetable basically.
Peppers can obviously be turned into salsas, pico de gallo, and used in stir fries, as we all know, but they have other uses too. Peppers can be dehydrated in a food dehydrator or on a chile ristra (google for really pretty pictures), and rehydrated later for use in a sauce. The dehydrated chiles can also be ground or processed into flakes and spice rubs as well as pastes! You can ferment the peppers in a brine to add complexity to your sauces/salsas (Tabasco is a fermented sauce), you can pickle them, and you can of course make your own special hot sauces out of them. There are endless possibilities!
How to calm the burn
First off, never eat a pepper on an empty stomach - you will probably get cramps. Capsaicin cramps ("cap cramps") are caused by capsaicin diffusing through your stomach lining into the muscle surrounding your stomach, causing painful contractions. The best thing you can do before eating a hot pepper is eat something with dairy or some fat in it. I usually eat a banana with peanut butter spread on it or a PB&J sandwich. Having this before a pepper will protect your stomach much better than if you have nothing. Some people have special smoothie recipes they drink before eating any superhot peppers.
To put out the burn, something dairy like milk will help, as well as yogurt, cheese or some ice cream. Bread with oil can also help or even some peanut butter to calm down your mouth. Do not drink too much milk as it can make you nauseous/sick. Drink some lime juice as the acid in that will stop the chemical reaction on your tongue and temporarily calm down the burn.
Capsaicin (the chemical that makes peppers spicy) is not water-soluble, so drinking water will not get rid of the burn; in fact, it may make you feel worse temporarily. If you absolutely must have water, trying mixing in lime juice for the reasons stated above. The most important thing is to try to enjoy the burn. When you bite into anything hot, it's going to take you on a ride. Just relax and see if you experience the "chile high" - the rush of endorphins your brain releases to help cope with the pain from the burning. It's not uncommon to feel tingling, energetic and overall good after eating a pepper.
My favorite pepper: the Firecracker
My all time favorite pepper is the Firecracker (pictured left). This pepper is delicious raw on sandwiches and pizza, even better when dehydrated into flakes and mixed with salt, and also delicious when chopped and submerged in oil. Use these peppers on your omelettes, sandwiches, pizzas, etc. or make a tasty sauce with them. They pack a nice punch at about 30,000-50,000 Scoville and have a great flavor. The plant itself is very beautiful and produces tons of peppers; I have an estimated 200-300 on just one of my plants. I got seeds for this pepper on a whim when I saw it on Pepper Joe's website for seeds, but he has since taken it down. I'm not sure why it's gone. It is an incredible pepper, and is loved by everyone who I convince to try it. I am not able to find anything online about the firecracker except some stories linking it to the pequin pepper (a wild pepper that grows on its own in Texas and Mexico), and the flavor and heat are definitely similar. Since it has been discontinued, I will continue growing this pepper for many years, as I feel that no one really knows much about this pepper, and it should be shared with as many people a possible. If you would like seeds you can order them from the seed shop!
Information on Capsaicin
Capsaicin is the active chemical in chile peppers, and is the reason you perceive a burning sensation when you come into contact with it. While it may feel like it's causing harm to your body, capsaicin will not do any real or permanent damage to you unless you have a severe allergy to it (which I have never heard of or seen but is theoretically possible). Although you may feel like you're suffering, capsaicin is not causing actual burns. It is tricking your brain into thinking there's a burn by stimulating the nerves that tell your brain something is hot. Your body's response to these nerve signals can vary, but people typically start with a runny nose and tears in their eyes, flushed face and/or sweating, and if you eat something very spicy, you can feel your heart rate increase from the adrenaline, and you may also experience a "chile high." A chile high is your body's natural response to the pain associated with the burn the pepper is giving you. You may feel a tingling sensation in your body as your brain sends endorphins to relieve the heat, and some degree of dizziness/euphoria after pushing your limits with heat. This will wear off in about 20 minutes.
Enjoy, and never eat an entire pepper raw unless you know how hot it is beforehand. Always start with small slices first! Don't learn the hard way!