Kitchen Notes

Tips for Planting Peppers in Your Garden

Spring is in the air, and that means it is time for most of the country to start setting up your garden. Whether your tilling your compost, putting up your fences, or picking out your seeds, spring is in full bloom. If you are chili head like us here at The Chili Lab, then your garden must be chock full of peppers. 

The reason we celebrate chili peppers at The Chili Lab is that each fruit has a unique personality. Peppers have individual flavor profiles, Scoville rankings, and can compliment dishes in their own ways. Fostering this individuality begins with planting the pepper. That is why we are sharing secrets on planting peppers in your garden that we use in our Chili Flake blends

Tips for Planting Chili Peppers in Garden Blend

Our Garden Blend Chili Flakes is the newest of the bunch.

It has a very robust flavor profile. Not only is there a hint of berry and citrus in our Garden Blend, but these flakes burst with earthy tones with a touch of heat. That's much in thanks to these three delicious chili peppers. 

How to Plant Jalapeños

Jalapeños are slow growers. If you want them to flourish outside with the rest of your harvest, pot them indoors from 8 to 12 weeks before transplanting outside. 

These Mexican peppers flourish in the heat. They like full exposure to the sun and temps of 80° F to 85° F to produce the most exceptional yields. 

Scatter the seeds or transport potted soil 14 to 16 inches apart. Also, allow two to three inches per row. You can expect the jalapeño plants to sprout to about three feet.

Since the pepper is in the sun all day, keep the soil moist. However, don't overwater. Too much water can lead to root rot.

How to Plant Calabrian Peppers

These Italian peppers are tiny with a ton of personality. By personality, we mean heat. They are responsible for the bite in our Garden Blend. However, they also lend a bit of zest and brightness to the mix. 

Calabrians enjoy exposure to full sun and thrive with nutrient-dense soil. Plant eight to ten inches into the earth with the weather of no less than 60°F. Cover the area with mulch to retain water and nutrients. You want an NPK ratio of 12-12-12. Stop fertilizing after July. If temps dry too low at night, the extra nutrients may be a breeding ground for disease. 

How to Plant Green Hatch Chili Peppers

These big peppers are perfect stuffing...or for making Garden Blend Chili Flakes. While Green Hatch Chili Peppers thrive by planting indoor first, they are hardier than other peppers. Therefore, it's not necessary.

To get the highest yield, Green Hatch Chilies thrive in 85° to 90° F weather. Just make sure you don't plant outdoors if your nighttime temps hit 60° F. These plants do well indoors, so bring them in. Just make sure they are placed near a south-facing window for ample sunlight all day.

Tips for Planting Chili Peppers in Forager's Blend

The Forager's Blend Chili Flakes is our most popular.

It has a sweet kiss of a berry infused with a smoky bite that lingers long after you finish eating. Trust us, that's not a bad thing! There are three chili peppers in the Forager's Blend. Here are some tips on how planting them.

How to Plant Guajillos

Guajillos are popular in Latin cuisine. While they bring the heat, they also need the heat. Wait until the soil is around 70° F. Dig holes around the size of the guajillo root ball about 1.5 to 2 feet apart and place into their respective spot.

Water your plants after placing into the ground. From there, only water about two times per week. Be sure to use a spray nozzle even to disperse the water. By drenching the leaves, the guajillo plant becomes susceptible to mold.

If your plant becomes brown, stop watering for a couple of weeks. You will know the pepper is ready for harvest when all signs of green are gone, and the pepper boasts the bright red hue present in the Forager's Blend. 

How to Plant Chipotle Pepper

Chipotle peppers are actually dried out jalapeños. So, follow the growing process in the Garden Blend Chili Flakes section. However, don't pick these chilies while they are green. Wait for them to turn red.

From there, you want to smoke the jalapeños until they have a black and leathery exterior. After, dry them out. You officially have chipotles you can toss into a soup or sauce, or grind into a coarse powder. 

How to Plant Pequin Peppers

Pequin is one of our favorite peppers. In fact, our most popular Chili Salts are crafted with this zesty fruit. This Tobasco pepper produces a large yield. They just need full sun and well-draining soil. 

These peppers grow more efficiently if they are potted inside six to eight weeks prior to transplanting into the ground. Fruit will be ready to harvest around 80 days after planting.

Be sure to water the plant at least once a week with one to two inches of water. Pequins like plenty of nitrogen. Fertilize lightly up to eight weeks after transplant.

Tips for Planting Chili Peppers in Grove Blend

The brightest of the bunch, our Grove Blend Chili Flakes live up to their name.

They enliven every dish added to and cause you to pucker your lips in delight. These flakes are tangy, juicy, and hot. This complex dichotomy is much in thanks to these three mouth-watering peppers.

How to Plant Habanero Peppers

Unless you live in a subtropical climate, start your habanero peppers indoors. Put outside two weeks before the last frost is set to happen. 

Place your habanero seeds or plants 1/2 inch deep and 18 inches apart. These plants need infrequent watering. However, when you do water, make sure to go deep. You also may need to cover these peppers to avoid them from cracking and drying out from the sun.

You can start to pick when they are green or wait until the pepper matures to a shade of red. The longer you wait to harvest, the hotter these peppers will be.

How to Plant Piri Piri Peppers

Also known as the African Red Devil, Piri Piri bring some genuine heat with a touch of smoke. As you'd imagine, they flourish in hot temperatures. 

Make sure the piri piri gets plenty of sun. Only water once or twice a week, going one to two inches deep each time. Keep an eye out for rot on the leaves because the plant is susceptible to growth during rainy seasons. These plants grow up to two feet tall and are mature when bright red. 

How to Plant Anaheim Peppers

This crisp pepper brings a bit of sweetness to our tangy blend. Anaheims are refreshing with a mild heat. While their bite isn't the hardest, they need hot temperatures. Anaheims thrive in 90° F.

Plant your Anaheim peppers 18 to 24 inches apart. Funny enough, they should hit about 18 to 24 inches at maturity. Speaking of, you can expect the Anaheim to reach maturity around 74 days.

Give Every Meal a Chili Kiss

While there is nothing more rewarding than growing your own food, we do live a fast-paced life. That's why we turn toward convenient items like Chili Flakes to bring flavor to our meals. 

Do you think these three blends sound good to be true? Well, don't choose between them. Try our Chili Flake Trios and get a sample of each flavor.

A little goes a long way when you are looking to transform your meal! 

Introducing the Chili Lab Hot Sauce Kit

Sometimes the only thing standing between you and a new cooking adventure is the right tools. To that end, we’re thrilled to announce our latest creation, The Chili Lab Hot Sauce Kit. A collaboration with W&P Design, the Hot Sauce Kit comes with everything you need to create a bespoke chili condiment of your own.

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Zucchini Pasta with Tomato, Garlic and Péquin Chili Salt

As the weather warms, we’re increasingly looking for ways to turn off the stove. This light, bright salad is one of our favorite quick meals, bringing together our favorite flavors of summer. We brought it out and dusted it off for the first time since last summer, and it promises to be on constant rotation over the next few months.  

And if you’re rolling your eyes at “zucchini pasta,” we promise that we’re not trying to force a fruit into spaghetti’s big shoes. But there is something undeniably wonderful about thinly cut zucchini (whether by spiralizer or just julienned) that we can’t quite get over. A healthy sprinkle of Chili Lab Péquin Chili Salt ties this dish together.

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Arrabbiata Recipes

This recipe is as simple as it gets, and quick to boot. There are a few keys to making it stand out: use the best ingredients you can find, from the canned tomatoes to the olive oil. And secondly, don’t be afraid to really stir those noodles as you alternate between adding tomato sauce and cooking water. It’ll make the sauce cling to the noodles and develop a velvety texture.

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Pequin Caramel Brownies

The chocolate-chili combo is popular for good reason: the richness of cacao can temper a chili’s heat, allowing the other flavor notes to come through. Here, caramel provides one additional layer of contrast to really highlight the citrus-y notes of the pequin.

Pequin Caramel Brownies

Makes 9 large brownies and 1 cup caramel

For the brownie batter:

🌶 4½ ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
🌶 1½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter
🌶 1 ¾ cup sugar
🌶 3 large eggs
🌶 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
🌶 ¾ teaspoon salt
🌶 1 cup all-purpose flour

For the caramel:

🌶 1 ½ cups sugar
🌶 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
🌶 ¼ teaspoon salt
🌶 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
🌶 6 tablespoons heavy cream
🌶 5 to 7 dried, pequin chiles, crushed

Make the batter: Preheat the oven to 350°. In a double boiler set over some simmering water, add the chocolate and butter and melt, stirring, until smooth. Let cool slightly. Transfer the melted chocolate to a large bowl, and stir in the sugar and the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla, salt, and all-purpose flour and stir until combined. Line an 8-inch-by-8-inch pan with parchment paper and spray the parchment and the sides of the pan with cooking spray. Pour ½ the batter into the pan and spread into an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes in the oven (it won’t be cooked through) and set aside while you prepare the caramel.

Make the caramel: Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and 6 tablespoons of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to simmer and let cook undisturbed until the caramel reaches 340° on a candy thermometer (it’ll have darkened into a light amber). Remove the pan from heat and quickly whisk in the butter and cream (the mixture will froth up). Whisk until smooth.

Pour ½ cup of the caramel onto the par-baked brownie layer and spread out evenly, leaving about ½-inch margin from the edge. Sprinkle the crushed pequin chilies evenly over the caramel. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to help set.

Add the remaining brownie batter to the top of the caramel and spread out evenly in a single layer so that the caramel is covered entirely. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into squares and serving. For an extra burst of flavor, top lightly with The Chili Lab Pequin Chili Salt.

 

The Pequin Chili Pepper

The pequin chili, native to Mexico and grown frequently in other parts of Central and South America, is proof of the adage that big things come in small packages. This petite chili has an unbeatable suite of flavor--citrus, smoke and toasted nuts--and a powerful kick of heat.

Sourcing: Dried pequin chilies can be found in Latin American markets or online. They’re also easy to grow, and seeds are readily available at seed supplies like this one.

Storing: Whole dried chilies should be kept sealed in an airtight container and free of moisture.

Pairing:

  • Avocado
  • Lobster
  • Tropical fruits, such as pineapple and mango
  • Cucumber
  • Lemon
  • Sour Cream
  • Eggs

This week:

  • Pequin Caramel Brownies on Wednesday
  • Pequin Inspired Cocktails on Friday

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    The Chili Pepper Field Guide is a growing knowledge base exploring the diverse flavors of chili peppers from around the world. We welcome your thoughts and content suggestions via email or social media using hashtag #chililab

    Bourbon Smash

    Bourbon smashes are the perfect summer drink. They are refreshing, like their cousin the Mint Julep, but with a little more bite! Take your smash to the next level by adding Pequin Chili Salt - The citrus and smoky notes of the Pequin pair perfectly with the Meyer lemons and bourbon. 

    Ingredients - Makes 1 cocktail

    1/2 Meyer Lemon

    2 sprigs Mint

    2 oz. Bourbon

    3/4 oz Agave Nectar

    4-5 Ice Cubes

    1 tablespoon + 1 pinch Pequin Chili Salt

    6-8 Ice Cubes

    Directions

    Take a chilled glass and lightly wet the rim. Dip the edges of the glass into a tablespoon of Chili Salt until the edge is fully coated. 

    Slice the lemon half into thin strips, putting aside 1 piece. Next, remove mint leaves from one of the sprigs. Place lemon slices, mint leaves, bourbon, agave and a pinch of Chili Salt in a shaker. Muddle all ingredients together. Add 2-3 ice cubes and shake until contents are chilled.

    Add 4-5 ice cubes to the glass and pour cocktail over ice. Garnish with lemon round and mint sprig.