Sorry Twihards, this post has absolutely nothing to do with that dismal phenomenon. Although we did find plant-pots that sparkled in the sun; I found that funny. This post is about our very successful harvest of Numex Twilight chillies, which has just come to an end.
Twilight is a pretty new cultivar, as far as I can tell, and it is variously described as "medium hot", "very hot", "the hot, hot chilli", "to 45cm", "60cm" and "to 1m tall". Which I think indicates fairly clearly that your mileage may vary if you decide to have a go with these.
Certainly the ones we grew were at the outside edge of our heat tolerance, and ultimately stood 140cm tall. They packed a heck of a punch.
We grew them from seed, starting in late February. They took a very long time to germinate - which should have indicated what we were up against, as hot chillies take longer to germinate than milder ones.
The USP for Twilight is that you have this prolific crop of fruit, with red, yellow and purple glossy, upright chillies all appearing at the same time. In fact, they seem to ripen from the middle of the bush outwards, so you have a flush of red in the middle, shading up through orange and yellow to purple on the outer edges. So it looks like a sunset. Twilight. Sunset. Very nifty.
Paul's fertilising regime, of Chilli Focus, Tomorite and super-phosphate led to a lot of fruit. Early on in the season we wanted to thin it out a bit, so I picked 300g of the purple chillies to make a sort of Tabasco-esque sauce. Sadly it lost the lovely colour, while retaining the heat, so we ended up with an innocuous-looking creamy yellow sauce that contains the fires of hell. Deceptive.
The problem with these chillies was our ability to consume them. When you have hundreds on a bush and adding a single chilli to a pot of curry makes your eyes water and your mouth tingle, you really have to look around for ways to use them.
I took bags of fresh chillies in to work.
I made pots of delicious savoury Thai chilli jam, which I have then used in egg sambals, nasi goreng and as a base for soup.
I made pots of sweet and spicy apple and chilli jam, which will make its way into quesadillas and onto cheese-boards.
And finally, at the end of the season, I developed an amazingly good chilli sauce recipe. I think this is a really good model for a chilli sauce - you get a good texture and body with the proportions, and it isn't too sweet. If you use a different variety of chilli, you will get a different flavour sauce. Nice and adaptable.
300g fresh tomatoes, chopped
3tbs golden caster sugar
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
250ml white wine vinegar
2tbs coarse sea-salt
Roughly chop the chillies and place in a stainless steel saucepan with the tomatoes garlic, sugar and vinegar. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then place in a food processor or blender with the salt and process until smooth-ish. The seeds won't break down, but they are going to be strained out anyway.
Push through a conical sieve into a sterilised pyrex jug, and then fill sterilised bottles and seal. Makes about 500ml.
I made a couple of batches of this, and the most successful variation was with smoked chillies. I spread the chillies out in a single layer in a steamer, and placed it in the bottom of my smoker, next to a pile of beechwood smoking dust. I positioned the vent over the chillies, to encourage a good flow of smoke up from the dust and over the fruit. After about 15 minutes I closed the vent and let them just sit in the smoke, for a total of an hour.
The smoked version came out a slightly darker colour, and has a rich but subtle smokey flavour. I took one bottle into work, where it is disappearing at an incredible rate. I know exactly where this year's chilli crop is going to go.