This year, not unlike last, I planted a garden at my house. I jokingly refer to it as the Garden of Eden because EVERYTHING grows. Seriously I don’t know what it is, but we have very few problems with it. (Don’t’ worry this blog isn’t about an abundance of produce) With that said, we planted all kinds of veggies – three kinds of tomatoes, squash, zucchini, Italian zucchini, cucumber, green bell peppers, hot banana peppers, swiss chard, various types of lettuce…I could go on and on.
Anyway, so things are coming along nicely (thank you for asking). One of the plants I was SO excited about was our banana peppers. They are one of my favorite things to add to wraps, sandwiches or quesadillas. But it is with this little plant the the conundrum occurred. In total we’ve had three peppers off of the one plant. Not to shabby for one little guy…I digress. We ate the first two around the same time (see photographic evidence below). They were amazing – sweet and a little tangy, like peppers are. They didn’t have any heat though. I wasn’t that taken aback, as I’ve never planted these before, so we just enjoyed them in our salads like you would a regular pepper.
That brings us to this week. The third pepper was on the plant. It was a tad bigger than this guy above and it had a purple stripe down it. I wasn’t sure if it was just getting over-ripe or what. Peppers come in all different colors – again it’s not that weird. So I picked it, brought it in and we decided to put it on salad, just like the other two. Well here is where things change. Like I usually do, I snitched a piece of cut pepper from the big salad bowl, popped it in my mouth and BAM! I was hit with the most intense heat and spiciness. I chewed just long enough and the capsaicin took over. Now I like spicy things just like the next guy but this was out of control. I was coughing and felt like I was choking. CRAZINESS ensued and the Love Muffin had no idea what hit me. It took a good hour for the tingling to wear off. We obviously did not leave the rest of the pepper on the salad. Don’t worry though we didn’t throw it away we diced it and put it in with taco meat (SO FREAKING GOOD!).
But that brings me to the conundrum – why the heck would two of the three peppers be completely mild and the third be outrageously hot? Like I said, I’ve never grown any type of hot pepper so maybe this is normal? I would love to get some answers though – just so I know what to expect in the future.
And you better believe that the next one we get off the plant (there’s another little one now) I will take a tiny bite out of before putting it in anything.
Hey gang – well an old friend of mine (like from 3rd grade, ok) filled me in on why the pepper was so spicy. Here’s what she had to say:
“capsaicin production will fluctuate with environmental conditions, meaning peppers picked at different times off of the same plant can have different spiciness. pepper plants produce more capsaicin when they’re stressed, and also when it’s warmer, especially at night. so peppers that ripen and are harvested at the hottest part of the summer will likely be spicier than those harvested when it’s cooler and wetter.
that purple stripe is a signal that that pepper fruit is in fact stressed–plants make purple pigments called phenylpropanoids as a defense mechanisms. so it makes sense that the pepper with purple was the hottest.”
This totally makes sense since this particular pepper grew during the really hot part of July. Thanks for the info and clarification Amy! I’m still going to be cautious the next time I chomp into one of my banana peppers.