Hail Stones In August!!!

Well Ive seen it all now. After the hottest July (in UK) for over 200 years; August, at least here in the North east of England has been an absolute disaster. Ive never seen so much rain in a single month and its supposed to be the height of summer!!! About half a hour ago I was sitting in the garden enjoying a rare bit of August sun when all of a sudden all hell broke loose - Hail stones so large I though the windows were going to go through.

Fortunately, I moved virtually all my plants indoors and into the Chilehouse yesterday to give them a bit of protection as some plants were showing signs of waterlogging. Chile plants hate standing in water logged soil. Waterlogged soil also promotes root & water borne diseases such as Phytophthora Blight and Root rot which is why soil should be free draining. Yellowing leaves, wilting, leaf curl & excess leaf drop are amongst the most obvious symptoms of excess water.

Well would you believe it. In the 2 minutes its taken me to update this blog, the clouds have cleared and the suns beating down again outside. Thats the British weather for you!

Naga Morich & Whippets Tail Update

Two of the varieties which have attracted lots of attention this year are the fearsomely hot Naga Morich and possible the worlds longest pepper, the Whippets Tail.

I have grown Naga Morich for a number years and its always been my 'weapon of choice' for feeding to my mates who reckon they can handle anything. However it wasent until April this year when the variety was brought to most peoples attention after Michael Michaud, a UK agronomist had his Nagas tested by an American laboratory who found them to be almost twice as hot as the current Guinness Book of Records holder - the Red Savina Habanero.

In the world of Chile growing, there are always arguments on what is the world hottest but after growing many of the hottest varieties such as the aforementioned Red Savina, Chocolate Habanero, Fatalii and Goat Pepper, believe me, at a reported 970,000 SHU, if you eat a Naga Morich pod whole you will wish you were dead. You can find further information as well as a recipie for thechilemans Naga 'Snake Bite' hot sauce here.

Unfortunately, I didnt get round to sowing my seeds (from last years crop) until late March and aside from a sunny July, the rest of this seasons weather has been terrible. This variety is also slow growing which doesnt help matters although having said that, around half a dozen of my larger plants are flowering and some even have immature pods on them. The missus is going to love the fumes in the kitchen (not) when I finally get round to cooking with these bad boys!!!!

Whippets Tail (also known as Joes long) is a Cayenne type pepper and is the subject of this years Chileman growing competition - 'The Whippets Tail Challenge'. For a bit of fun, back in April we challenged our pod pals from around the world to see who could grow the longest pod. My best pod so far measures 23cm, a mere tiddler compared to Derek Bureau's (aka Potawie) 28cm monster - and his still growing!! Check out the current leaderboard here.

The banter the competiton has generated on the Chillis Galore forum in particular has been one of the highlights of this growing season with the thread generating 150 posts (and almost 11,500 viewings) the last time I bothered to look. Who said chile growing isn't fun?

Be sure to watch this space for further announcements on next years contest.

August - It's Hot Sauce / Salsa time!!

Chiles are grown to be eaten and what better way to enjoy the fruits of your labour than to make up a batch of salsa, chutney or hot sauce for the summer barbeque. Ive had great fun experimenting with different peppers and ingredients over the years in a quest to develop the ultimate recipe. However, whatever your making there are a few hard and fast rules you must follow to avoid getting food poisoning/botulism.

  1. Make sure your working in a clean environment
  2. Sterilized all jars or bottles before use. You can do this by boiling them in a pan of hot water (with the jar lids off!) for a few minutes
  3. For sauces in particular, you should use plenty of vinegar (acetic acid) and fruit juices (citric acids) in your recipes to kill off any bacteria and prevent your sauce from spoiling. Most sauces should keep for a few months in a refrigerator.
  4. Take great care when handling hot chile pods, preferably wera gloves. If you touch somewhere sensitive ‘Jalapeno eye’ could be the least of your worries!!

Although there are literally 1000’s of recipes, here are a few simple ones to get you going:

A Hot Sauce Recipe (makes about 3 medium sized bottles)
- 1 onion (diced)
- 2 large carrots (diced)
- 2 Tomatoes (roughly chopped)
- 3 cloves or garlic (minced)
- 1 lime (or Orange/Mango/Grapefruit) - juiced
- 1 tablespoon of Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 cup of distilled vinegar (or white/cider vinegar not malt vinegar)
- A pinch of Cumin
- A large pinch of Salt
- Chopped Chiles to taste*

* The pungency of your Chiles will determine how hot your sauce is (check out the chileman database first). For a really hot sauce use Habenero’s, Scottch Bonnets or even Naga Morich -if your feeling really brave


  1. Sauté the onions and garlic in the oil until soft and lightly browned. Add the carrots and tomatoes with a small amount of water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the carrots are soft.
  1. Add the tomatoes, lime juice, vinegar, salt and the finely chopped Chiles. Let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes to combined the flavours.
  2. Blender the mixture to a smooth puree and leave it to stand for a few more minutes to cool. Strain the puree into sterile jars, seal and refrigerate.

A Salsa Recipe (makes about 3 cups)
- 4 Tomatoes (roughly chopped)
- 1 Onion (roughly diced)
- 1/2 cup Celery, chopped
- 1 large green (or red/yellow) mild pepper (capsicum)
- 1/4 cup of Olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of Red wine vinegar (or white/cider vinegar not malt vinegar)
- 1 teaspoon of Mustard seeds
-1 teaspoon of Coriander seeds (crushed)
and One large bag of Nachos !!

The key to proper preparation is to never use a food processor or blender. Salsa should be chunky and you should chop all ingredients by hand. There is no need to cook this mixture simply cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Do you know any fantastic recipes/manufacture a gorgeous hot sauce?
More recipes will be posted in the chileman recipe section in the coming weeks. If you have a fantastic recipe that you would like included please contact us here: thechileman@hotmail.co.uk

Weve also just set up our Chilemans Guide to Hot Sauces. If you are a hot sauce manufacturer and think we (and our thousands of regular monthly visitors) should know about your products, please contact us.


August - Some of my favourite pods & flowers so far.......

Well I don't know about you but this Chile Growing season is flying by. Over the last few weeks, Ive been so busy at work doing my 'proper job' (Im a stockbroker), the chile hobbie has taken a bit of a back seat. Fortunately, here in the UK we have just had our sunniest July for over 200 hundred years (apparently) and aside from a light feed of fish blood & bone fertiliser, a daily water and the odd bit of potting on, Ive more of less left my plants to get on with it.

Heres some more pictures of my favorite pods and flowers so far from this years crop..........

Govenment / Research Peppers – What the hell are these?

Whilst surfing chile forums you may have seen pictures of exotic sounding varieties with secret code numbers rather than common names.

PI 281353, PI 315008, PI 315028, GRIF 9165 and CAP 501 are amongst the many varieties I’m growing this year and your probably wondering what the hell are these!

Believe it or not there are several government institutions and seed banks around the world committed to collecting, documenting and preserving chile seed stocks. Although there is little danger of the humble habenero going extinct, many chile varieties are so rare they are in danger of being lost forever and these institutions play an invaluable role in ensuring diversity is maintained. Each institution use their own mnemonics and numbering systems rather than common names to help them reference varieties. Many are so rare that they don’t have a common name. Amongst chile enthusiasts, they are often referred to as ‘Research or Government peppers’.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Plant Introduction (PI) system is probably the best known. The USDA hunts out and receives seed from all over the world and stores one of the worlds most extensive Chile seed collections them at its facility in Georgia. Observation data (which includes everything from the seed source to the size and shape of the parent plant and pods) is recorded upon arrival to the facility and a Plant Introduction number (PI ######) is then assigned. There are over 2000 PI varieties documented (some of which also have common names) and you can find them all listed in the chileman database.

For further information on other research organisations and classification systems in Holland (where the letters CGN prefixes varieties), Germany (CAP), Brazil (BGH), and Taiwan (CO) check out the chilemans guide to Seed Banks & Research Institutions.

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