Pepper Growing Season Kicks Off

This blog post kicks off a series about growing peppers for seed. I will take you through an entire season of growing peppers for seeds with the overarching goal and intention of adapting a seed to our particular climate and soil, and for our particular fermented pepper sauce. We will cover: weeding, watering, plant care, plant and fruit selection, harvesting, processing fruit, processing seeds, composting, putting beds to rest, a bit about pepper history, and fermentation.

We may take a few detours along the way. I will want to talk about some of the other local processes which occur while our peppers are growing and that contribute to our bioregional sauce. For example, visiting a farm where our applesauce is grown, or the beekeeper that gathers our honey.

For the pepper seeds, I will focus on a couple of varieties, Hot Portugal and Criolla Sella, that we grow for our Srirawcha and Boulder Sol sauces and fermented pepper flakes.  

We are focusing the pepper grow at our farm this year almost exclusively on the production of peppers for seeds. In order to have enough diversity of genetics to select from, we have to have a big enough population of plants to select from. We are going to grow the minimum number this year to achieve this, which is seven hundred and fifty plants. Then we will be able to select the plants themselves for characteristics that we like as well as the fruits for characteristics that we like.

It is important to know that if you want to select and adapt your own variety you should be growing varieties that are open pollinated (often denoted as “OP” in seed catalogues) and not hybrid (often denoted as “F1” in seed catalogues). The reasons for this are beyond the scope of this post, but it is important to note.

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First detour…A bit about the peppers: The Criolla Sella is actually a unique species of pepper that most people in the US have never tasted before. Most peppers that we are familiar with, like the bell, jalapeño, cayenne, relleno, Anaheim, and poblano are of the species Capsicum annuum. Some very hot peppers are the species Capsicum chinense, like the habanero, the Trinidad Scorpion, Carolina Reaper, Ghost pepper.  However, the Criolla Sella is a Capsicum baccatum, and it has a very unique flavor, with notes of mango or citrus. On the Scoville scale it is a 30,000 so it is hotter than a cayenne. It originally comes from Bolivia, and I got the seeds from my teacher, Rich Pecoraro. Perhaps its original growing environment has enabled it to already feel at home and thrive here in Boulder County. Still, this little pepper has never had the kind of selection pressure we are going to put on it, either for production, or for this region. We have some work to do to select it to be fully adapted to production here in the challenging growing environment of the front range of the Colorado Rockies.

In planning this grow, I know how much bed space to prepare because I will be planting these peppers about 1 foot apart (“one foot centers”) and I will do two rows per bed (the rows are 36 inches apart). Therefore I know that I have to prepare 325 bed ft. for the peppers this year, which is convenient because the beds in our East Terrace field are exactly that length.

We have a growing season of 150 days here in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Boulder County. We know that in order to get enough maturation days so that the fruits will ripen, we have to get a head start, and even then we may have to cover our plants when the weather starts to get cold this fall. I plan on planting the transplants in the field around June 3rd-4th. This date was chosen because we can expect the soil temperatures to be warm enough to encourage the peppers to grow well (soil temperatures between 60-90 degrees) and not be harmed by nighttime temperatures below 50 degrees. The specific date of the 3rd-4th of June was chosen because it will be during a waxing moon, and it is a good time to plant a flower or seed crop. To be ready for this transplant date, I need to start the seeds about 8 weeks ahead of time.

For this reason we use an early ripening variety of red pepper called a Hot Portugal for the red sauce. This pepper will reliably ripen and turn red before our first hard frosts of the season.

That’s all for this installment. We will be back in a couple weeks to talk more about the seeding process.

        In good health,

 

Maximum "Oooo, Mommy" (Umami) Grilled Cheese Recipe

What makes this grilled cheese unique is that it has been created for maximum umami, that delicious fifth flavor.  Every ingredient has undergone some kind of fermentation, microbial alchemy, a chemical transformation performed by billions upon billions of microbial buddies.

Whether by bacteria in the Sriracha and cheese, or bacteria and yeast in the sourdough, the diversity in microbial life leads to a diversity of complex compounds, and therefore complex flavors that can only be achieved through fermentation.  

What You'll Need:

Fresh Sourdough Loaf

Picaflor Sriracha

Taleggio Cheese (or other aromatic cheese)

Butter

  • Slice ½” thick slices of the sourdough bread.

  • Heat 1 TB of butter over medium heat in a saute pan.  When the butter is melted place one slice of the bread in the pan.

  • Place a layer of Teleggio slices on the bread, about ¼” thick (more or less as you like).

  • Spread 1 TB of Picaflor Srirawcha (more or less as you like) on the cheese.

  • Cover with the second piece of bread.  Allow the bottom slice to turn golden brown, then melt another 1TB of butter in the pan.

  • Turn the grilled cheese over and cook until that side is golden brown.

Farm Fries with Picaflor Srirawcha Ketchup

Ingredients:

6 large starchy potatoes

1 cup ketchup

¼ cup Picaflor Srirawcha

Kosher salt

Vegetable oil

French Fries: 

Bake the potatoes first (this step can be done several days ahead of time and the potatoes kept in the refrigerator). Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  With a fork, poke holes in each potato 3-4 times. Place potatoes directly on rack. Cook for 1 hour.

When potatoes are finished cooking, cool until they can be handled. Cut the potatoes into long spears by cutting them lengthwise into 8ths. Heat an inch of oil in a skillet to 375 degrees F. Gently place a layer of the potato spears in the hot oil and fry until golden, turning when necessary, until all sides are golden. Remove and place on a paper towel and sprinkle with kosher salt immediately while the fries are still glistening with oil so that the salt will stick.

Srirawcha Ketchup: 

Mix 1 cup of ketchup with ¼ cup of Picaflor Srirawcha. Use more Srirawcha if you want it to add even more kick! 

Boulder Hot Chicken - Recipe

Ready to turn up the heat for your next entertaining event? Look no further than this fiery and delicious recipe for Picaflor's Boulder Hot Chicken!

Boulder Hot Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4-1/2 bottle of Picaflor Srirawcha
  • a bit of extra vinegar, optional, to taste
  • salt to taste

Wings:

  • 1 pound chicken wings, tips removed, drumettes and flats separated
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the wings, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss to coat.  Spread out in a single layer on wire rack inside of a roasting pan, or alternatively directly on oven rack, with a rimmed cookie sheet underneath to catch drippings.

Turning once or twice while cooking, bake until wings are cooked through and crispy, around 45 minutes. 

While chicken is cooking mix sauce.  When wings are finished cooking, toss wings in sauce. Serve immediately.

Hot Sauce That Makes Healthy Humans

Picaflor Srirawcha is not your normal hot sauce. It is literally 67% organic fermented pepper juice from five varieties of ripe red peppers. The rest is applesauce, honey, garlic, and salt—no vinegar, no water, no corn syrup, no sugar, and no added preservatives. The sauce goes beyond its bold full flavor by adding nutritious probiotic strains to your diet.

Raw hot portugal peppers ready for processing

Raw hot portugal peppers ready for processing

Picaflor hot sauces fit into a new category—functional fermented foods. Functional fermented foods include yogurt, kimchi, pickles, olives, tempeh, and many more. As a result of fermentation, these foods all have nutritional benefits beyond their ingredients. The microorganisms that live and thrive during fermentation create functional compounds like short chain fatty acids, active enzymes, bioavailable minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that can positively affect physical and mental health.  

Scientists are still researching the complex interactions between microbes and humans, but the results and implications thus far are quite profound. Microbes may affect everything from aiding nutrient digestion and energy metabolism to supporting immune function to prevent heart disease, cancer, and depression.

Picaflor's flagship hot sauce––live culture srirawcha

Picaflor's flagship hot sauce––live culture srirawcha

Picaflor Srirawcha, specifically, has health promoting attributes that can be directly detected by flavor and directly backed up with scientific references:

  • The sour flavor from fermentation (Lactic acid) aids in nutrient absorption in the small intestines and promotes healthy metabolic activity in the large intestines
  • The spicy flavor from peppers (Capsaicin) increases blood flow and aids in pain control

  • The savory flavor from garlic (Allycin) boosts immune function, has high antioxidant activity, and reportedly reduces risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer

  • The probiotic bacteria (Lactobacillus plantarum, LM) can adhere to and produce vitamins right in your gut, and has strong activity against pathogenic and conditionally pathogenic microorganisms

  • The probiotic bacteria (L. rhamnosus, LB3) has high levels of non-specific immune       boosting activity and is particularly strong against ear, nose, and throat pathogens

  • The honey and applesauce provide a host of antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties along with an appealing sweet flavor without the extremely negative effects of excess fructose

No other hot sauce on the market provides the nutritional benefits of Picaflor, but it truly is the flavor that will keep you coming back for more!

Buy Picaflor fermented hot sauces and pepper flakes at Whole Foods Market, Lucky’s Market, and Alfalfa’s Market all along the Front Range of Colorado and check back soon for online ordering.

Criolla Sella Kale Chip Recipe

Bringing you our very first blog post, and it's a hot one. Kale chips have certainly gained health buzz status for the last few years and we wanted to offer our own rendition. These are not your momma's kale chips. 

Criolla Sella is one of our favorite pepper varieties. You will find it on spotlight in our Boulder Sol sauce. This Bolivian beauty is small but packs the heat and has a very unique, tropically flavor. Combined with some locally-grown curly kale, olive oil, lemon juice, cashews, nutritional yeast, and a little salt - - - YUM. 

first step kale chip

What you need:

2-3 bunches of curly kale

1.5 C soaked cashews

1-2 TBS olive oil

2-3 TBS nutritional yeast

1 lemon (squeezed)

1 TBS Picaflor Criolla Sella pepper flakes 

Pinch of pink sea salt


First:

Wash your kale, de-stem and rip into pieces. We do this step all with our hands, all you need is chip-size pieces. Place kale in a bowl and massage a drizzle of olive oil into the kale to soften. This step helps the rest of the cashew cheese mix stick. 

Second:

In a food processor, add soaked cashews, olive oil, and salt. Pulse until you have a gritty, cheesy consistency (or creamier if you prefer). Remove mixture and add to kale. Sprinkle Picaflor pepper flakes and nutritional yeast in as well. Massage mixture evenly into kale pieces so each one is packed with flavor. 

Third:

Our kale chip recipe does use a dehydrator, however if you don't have one, just use an oven. If using an oven, preheat to 300 degrees and bake kale chips for 5-10 minutes, you want them crispy, but not burnt. For our method, take the kale chips and make an even layer (no overlapping) on your dehydrator trays. Our recipe ended up using two trays. Set temperature to 125 and leave for 5-7 hours. 

Fourth: 

Consume. Chew. Cherish. 

We hope you enjoy! 

Team Picaflor