Fruit and Vegetables

Mexican chilli

Mexican chilli: origins and history

Christopher Columbus discovered Mexican chilli during his journey to discover America and brought it to Spain from where it spread throughout Europe. Columbus defined it as "a spicy spice consumed by the natives". Indeed the Mexican chili pepper it was already used in the Maya kitchen to flavor dishes. "Peperoncino" (green, red, yellow or orange), is a vernacular term designating the fruit of five species of plants of the genus Capiscum belonging to the family of the Solonaceae. These plants are native to Mexico, South America and Asia and the most widespread are the species Capiscum annuum, Capiscum chinense and Capiscum frutescens. The plant is currently cultivated in 64 countries and, among these, India alone produces 39% of the world consumption of this spice. The Mexican chili pepper It is used both as a decorative plant and for medicinal and culinary properties.

Mexican chilli: variety

There are different varieties of Mexican chilli, the most widespread are: p.jalapeno, p.cayenna, p.ciliegia and p.tabasco. The jalapeno pepper, originally from Jalapa, in the State of Veracruz, is the most widespread in the world. Its fruits are small, long green cones and turn red when ripe. They have a more pungent than spicy note and are kept in sauce or pickled. Cayenne pepper is widespread in Mexico but is known throughout the world and its cultivation dates back to the pre-Columbian era. The fruits, long, thin, bright red, are used above all dried. Cherry peppers can be found in an orchard but also on the terrace, as an ornamental plant. Its round berry fruits are used marinated, powdered, stuffed or grilled. Tabasco hot peppers produce fruit in the shape of a narrow and elongated berry. Initially green, they become yellow or red when ripe. They have a fruity flavor with a smoky note. Originating in Mexico, they are the main ingredient of the famous Tabasco sauce.

Mexican chilli: cultivation

The Mexican chilli is an annual plant that loves the heat, so it should be placed in a sunny place. To produce good fruit it needs a rich, well-drained soil and regular fertilization throughout the cultivation period. Fertilizers rich in potassium and phosphates, such as bone meal or wood ash, are often used to fertilize Mexican chili. It can be sown directly in the orchard soil, in April-May. Pot cultivation is also excellent, buying the seedlings in a nursery. The vase can be placed on a window sill or on a terrace, the important thing is that it is placed in full sun. Watering must be regular, weekly. During the hot period, the leaves of the Mexican chilli can be attacked by the red spider, which causes gray spots and leaf dryness: cut the infested parts and spray the plant with water mixed with black soap or nettle fertilizer.

Chilli collection

The harvest takes place 5 or 6 months after sowing and until the arrival of winter. Usually the fruits must be picked when ripe; at the end of the season, late ones, still green, can still be detached from the branches because they will continue to ripen and to color. Be careful not to pick up the peppers with bare hands if you have wounds, because they are very stinging. Also, when handling them, avoid rubbing your eyes or touching your lips: chillies can cause burning. Once harvested, the Mexican peppers must be dried in the sun and then tied in bunches and hung in a dry place sheltered from humidity and light. Some advise drying them in the oven at 50 °. Once dried they can be kept for a long time and you can use them to crumble them into powder or by removing small pieces to add during the preparation of your spicy dishes. Instead, in the refrigerator they are kept for a week in the legume department.