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The Mother of All Peppers


I read recently that the chiltepin is called the “mother of all peppers” because it is thought to be the oldest form in the Capsicum annuum species. I don’t know if that is true, but I believe this bush is the mother of a lot of other pepper plants around my place. I’m not sure exactly how long ago this little bush made its first appearance near my back door, but now I find these pepper bushes growing in random places in my planting beds. I guess it thinks it has the right to grow anywhere it wants since it is the official state native pepper of Texas.

Chiltepin and Iron Moon

My soon-to-be lawyer son would probably get a kick out of reading the 1997 Texas House Resolution singing the praises of the chiltepin.  I’m fairly certain that some of his friends did not consider the pretty little pepper to be deserving of special recognition by the state, but the plant probably does hold a lasting place in their memory.  He still laughs when he tells of unsuspecting victims being convinced to try the  little “berries”.   Enticed by the pretty red color, they soon regretted falling for the trap once the capsaicin did its job in their mouths. 

 These little babies are hot, ranging from 50,000 to 100,00 Scoville Units,  but that doesn’t discourage a lot of folks around here from enjoying them. As a matter of fact some folks are pretty passionate about their fondness for them. I had a garage sale once where several shoppers were more excited about the peppers ripening on my bush than the fabulous junk I had for sale. I made a couple of ladies ecstatically happy when they took home a little plant I dug up for them from my yard.  You might have thought they had been given a gold nugget judging by the smiles on their faces.

I don’t recommend the transplanting method for obtaining these for yourself.  If you happen to find the chitepin growing as you enjoy a hike, don’t get out your shovel and start digging.  Wild chiltepins are protected in several national parks.  Probably better to order seeds from a source such as ushotstuff.com.

I think I’ll give this recipe from The Jalepeno Cafe  a try this year:

Chiltepin House Sauce (Salsa Casera)
(Makes 2 cups)
2 Cups Chiltepins
8 to 10 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree on high speed for 3 to 4 minutes. Refrigerate for one day to blend the flavors. It keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator.
You may want to try some chiltepin recipes too when you read this exerpt from the Texas House resolution:
WHEREAS, The chiltepin is used in both fresh and dried forms, combined with vinegar to make a tangy sauce or sprinkled into soup to provide just the right seasoning; perhaps the most amazing attribute of this indigenous spice is that it has been shown to increase the human metabolism by as much as 25 percent, making it a promising means of controlling weight gain.
There you have it. The real reason to become a chiltepin fan.  Hope your mouth is up to the challenge.

One Comment

  1. Posted 29 Oct ’10 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Save me some before the frost comes.

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