|Wonkus early chilli fruit|
Last year's habanero crop was a bit much for us. Even taking the Caribbean approach to Scotch Bonnets, of putting a whole, un-cut one into a pot of stew for flavour with less heat left us sweating and gasping. So this year we wanted a milder, more generally useful chilli. Paul chose Santa Fe Grande, and successfully grew four plants. Four prolific plants.
The first fruits that were formed were... not what we were expecting. "Hot conical blunt-tipped waxed fruits, 1½" wide by 3½" long"? No. But eventually they started producing more normal-looking fruit, so I guess it was just like a young hen producing double-yolk eggs - all a bit over-enthusiastic until things settle into a rhythm. For me, though, I thought we'd swung too far in the other direction. The habaneros were too hot for us but these had hardly any heat at all. So this is not the cultivar of my dreams.
As it has got colder we've had to strip the plants of fruit to make room in the conservatory for the calamondin bonsai, so I've been on a chilli processing kick. It hasn't quite matched the Great Wall of Cherries but there have been enough to be getting on with.
I've made Thai chilli paste and Turkish chilli paste, a vast quantity of chilli, garlic and ginger paste for curries, pickled some, preserved some in oil (heat processed for safety) and made a couple of jars of our family recipe pizza relish. Everything we're eating from eggs to ragu has been getting a spoonful or two of chilli. It's a good thing we are fond of a little heat.