Back in May I started this year’s batch of Datil peppers from seed. Although germination requires much patience, can take 3 weeks or more…each seeds germinated. The last two years I threw out the seed pots because I thought the seeds were bad. This year I had given up on them but they all came up.
They require moist warm soil to germinate. I use an old yogurt maker we have and cardboard egg crates to place soil and the seeds. I plus it in and keep it moist using a spray bottle. This is critical because if you try to pour water on them the force of the water can disturb the seeds, especially when using a peat moss-based soil as it is very airy.
The good thing about Dail peppers is that unlike smaller pepper plants like habenero or jalepeno these peppers produce strong tree-like stalks that support a big pepper plant that produces huge yields. I like to use these to make a pepper mash which is a mixture or stemmed peppers, salt and vinegar. I place the peppers in the blender with salt and vinegar and blend it up, this mixture can keep years due to the inhospitable environment salt and vinegar create. No bacteria wants to call this place home.
The cool thing for me about having Datil peppers on hand is I get to play around with salsa and hot sauce formulations. I have a brand called Thoughtful Harvest and I really enjoy product formulation. Honestly, I am quite bored with standard hot peppers like jalepeno, habenero, serrano and cayenne. They have become so mainstream. I like the Datil pepper because it has a nifty store behind it and it has remained a back-yard pepper until just a year or two ago when some folks began bottling it.
Aside from a few sub-standard product (sorry-just being honest) that use the Datil pepper it really only lives in the St.Augustine FLA area. Having been brought t the new world by Spanish explorers the origin is still in question but we do know it came through the tropics, Dominican Republic I think, and wound up in St. Augustine in 1565.
It has uses for many Spanish dishes but also makes a great salsa pepper which is what I love it for. Another great use is to make a pot of black beans using a whole Datil pepper. You will get a touch of heat, but a ton of flavor.
Speaking of flavor, the Datil pepper is in my mind the KING of hot peppers as it relates to flavor. Don’t get me wrong, it’s as hot as the Habenero, but has more flavor. Very fruity and “limy” almost floral like a fancy French women’s perfume.
So far my idea is to make a line of salsas that represent countries like Spain, Mexico, Italy etc. For instance, my Spanish style salsa has green olives and high-quality extra virgin olive oil in it. It is rather luxurious and has tons of meaty green olives from California. My Italian has capers, basil, garlic and the same great olive oil. I cannot give up too many trade secrets so I will leave it at that.
II hope you’ll consider bringing this nifty hot pepper to your garden and hopefully to try one of our salsas that use it in late summer 2010.