Daily Online Shopping Experiences
A year and a half ago I visited a friend of mine at a restaurant which he is owner and chef of, and the first thing out of his mouth was “I got some ghost peppers in”. My eyes immediately lit up with delight and I responded “give me whatever you want to make for me”. He proceeded to make a meaty pizza with a ghost pepper infused sauce and slices of the furious pepper amongst the toppings. The result was a sweat inducing, tear jerking, mouth burning, absolutely delicious meal that I will never forget. The ghost pepper, scientifically known as Bhut Jolokia, is still one of the spiciest peppers in the world, the record broken by a very few number of species since 2007.
I’ve had both chefs and food enthusiasts tell me that the best vegetables are those you grow yourself. In regards to peppers, they grow far larger and spicier than their mass produced supermarket buddies, and are more economical in the long run. I’ve always dreamed about growing my own peppers to see just how spicy they can get, but never had the adequate space.
Now that I’m in an apartment with a modest balcony, I finally caved in and searched for seed sources. Due to popular demand, you can now buy Bhut Jolokia seeds on Amazon, but I wanted seeds that came from a more organic source than those handled by machines.
I found Pepper Joe’s, who grows every pepper himself organically and collects the seeds by hand (need proof? Just look at the seeds, some still have traces of torn pepper flesh). He has a great number of pepper seeds available from the modest jalapeno to the record breaker of June 2011, the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T (latest record was established this very month of this very year by the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion).
The modest website lists all his available seeds, growing tips, and little trivia tidbits. After 22 years of business, Joe has been featured in ABC News and the New York Times. His shipping is fast, he welcomes questions by email, and his seeds have incredibly high germination rates thanks to the fact that he uses absolutely zero chemicals on his plants. I wish I had an acre of land just for his seeds. For experienced gardeners and the freshly curious alike, there is no better source for pepper seeds.
For this post I found some great photographs of peppers to share. Every image belongs to their respective owners, and each links to the original source. Enjoy!
Just how spicy can a pepper get? The official spice rating system is the Scoville scale which was created in 1912. The higher the number of Scoville Heat Units (SHU), the spicier it is. Sweet bell peppers sit at 0 SHU while pure capsaicin (the spice molecule) reigns at 16 million SHU. The diner favorite Tabasco sauce hangs out with jalapenos at a range of 2,500-5,000 SHU, cayennes are between 30,000 and 50,000, and Thai chilis can be anywhere between 50,000 and 100,000. This is where it starts to warm up. The most familiar spicy peppers, the habanero and scotch bonnet, can reach up to 350,000 SHU. Our lovely Bhut Jolokia was reported at 855,000-1,041,427 SHU. It’s record has been broken since by the Infinity Chili, Naga Viper, Trinidad Scorpion Butch T, and Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. Respective SHU numbers are 1,067,286; 1,382,118; 1,463,700; and 2,009,231.
Hailing from South Carolina, Joe is a farmer who loves his peppers. One can imagine the large crop he has of every species, but rather than selling the peppers for consumption, he sells the seeds to fellow spice enthusiasts so that they can experience the rewards of growing their own supply. His selection includes the aptly named Million+ club, to gorgeous looking white habanero, black jalapeno, and filius blue. He also has several unique species of sweet peppers and tomatoes that look very tasty.
Each species has a short description that describes exactly what the resulting fruit is best for, be it in sauces or eaten whole. Many also state the average size that the plant grows to, which is handy for those with limited space. He has advice on which peppers are suited for canning or freezing, how to ensure to get the largest crop out of your batch, and describes in length the indoor-to-outdoor “hardening” process to keep your plants happy and plentiful. For someone like me whose last gardening venture was at the age of 12, this is incredibly helpful. His thorough FAQ section covers numerous topics such as pests, fertilizing, wintering, and how to take care of new seedlings. He even has a recipe page for his own sauces, and a whole section devoted to various food recipes submitted by his customers.
There are 10 seeds per pack, and for every three packs of seeds ordered you receive two free packs of random seeds as a thank you gift. Obviously you can’t return the seeds, but this is a very nice gesture as well as a pleasant surprise for your garden.
I can’t wait to see if my seeds germinate, and if my poor gardening skills do not live up to success, I’m more than willing to buy from Pepper Joe’s as many times as it takes.