Gales Meadow Farm will have starts of sweet and hot peppers this Sunday at the Hillsdale Farmers' Market, including some varieties which are not found elsewhere in the Portland area.
Aci Sivri is an heirloom from Turkey, a mildly hot pepper which is also intensely sweet and flavorful. The fruit are shaped like cayenne peppers, only longer, brilliant red and a little wrinkled looking.
Black Hungarian is similar in shape to Jalapeno, a little larger, a little hotter, and shiny black in color for most of the season. By the middle of September, it starts to turn a deep brick red, and then it is sweet as well as hot. We make one of our hot sauces from Black Hungarian.
Purple Glow in the Dark is the hottest pepper we will be bringing to Hillsdale. It’s a beautiful plant. New foliage comes out neon green and darkens to deep purple. The peppers themselves, of which each plant produces a prodigious number, are fat half-inch purple cones.
Beaver Dam is spicy rather than hot. It’s shaped like an elongated bell, and good to eat from its early lime green stage. It ripens to a mix of yellow, orange and red. When it’s fried or roasted, most of the spice is gone, and a rich delicious flavor remains.
Bull Nose Bell was grown at Monticello by Thomas Jefferson. He probably did not do the work, but he surely appreciated this sweet bell, which is smaller and more flavorful than newer varieties. The stocky plant produces a dozen or more peppers. It will turn red, but we recommend eating this one green, as there are other peppers which ripen to red much earlier.
The earliest bright red sweet pepper is Jimmy Nardello, an Ark of Taste variety. “This variety of pepper was originally from Basilicata, a southern region of Italy. It takes its name from seed saver Jimmy Nardello, who brought the seeds from Italy while immigrating to Connecticut in 1887. . . Jimmy Nardello’s pepper is sweet and light when eaten raw. It is considered one of the very best frying peppers as its fruity raw flavor becomes perfectly creamy and soft when fried.” – US Ark of Taste Slow Food USA (link)
Two years ago, about 2 % of our Jimmy Nardello pepper plants were noticeably sturdier. These surprised us by producing yellow sweet peppers, which have a lighter, less sweet version of the Jimmy Nardello taste. We saved the seeds, grew them out and of course, we call it Yellow Nardello. Growing this is a roll of the dice, as a small percentage last year reverted to the red color and a few even developed a bit of heat.We selected seeds only from the sweet yellow ones, so they should be more predictable this year.
Another yellow sweet pepper is Gatherer’s Gold, a variety developed by Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seeds in Philomath, Oregon. It is bigger than Yellow Nardello, and a bit later to ripen, but well worth the wait for its flavor and beauty.
A new one for us this year is Sweet Red Cherry. The description in the Nichols catalog is not exactly detailed, but we are hoping for a tasty sweet red pepper small enough to pickle whole.
We are growing more than fifty varieties of pepper this year; these are the ones which are ready for our last Hillsdale Farmers Market of the season this Sunday. Of course, we will also have more than fifty varieties of tomato plants, and starts of a number of other tasty vegetables.