Peppers, whether hot or sweet, are a popular vegetable to grow in home gardens. Continuing our series of great new plant introductions from All-America Selections, these are some of the winners in the "Edible/Vegetable category." Here are the new peppers that made the cut. All-America Selections was founded in 1933, "To promote new garden varieties with superior garden performance judged in impartial trials in North America."
Pepper Sweetie Pie F1
A miniature bell pepper that is easy to grow with excellent fruit set even under hot and humid conditions. An attractive plant that is well-adapted to a container and small garden growing. Fruits can be harvested 60 to 70 days from transplanting either in green or red. These small 3 ounce cuties are 2.5 inches x 3 inches in size and are thick-walled, sweet and flavorful. These peppers can be eaten fresh, grilled, stir-fried or stuffed. The possibilities are endless. As one judge said, "A cute way to introduce bell peppers to kids."
Pepper Aji Rico F1
Aji Rico is the first of its kind: a hybrid hot pepper from the Capsicum baccatum species that matures early for short-season production or early summer enjoyment. The large plant produces many thin-walled, crunchy fruits, which have a narrow conical shape. Fruit matures from green to red and can be eaten at any stage. "Ají" is the term for chili in South America. These fruits have a refreshing citrus flavor and warm heat level, perfect for eating fresh or cooking into salsas or hot sauces. Simply incorporate the desired number of seeds from the pepper to add some heat. Aji also dries well for a flavorful homemade flavorful "paprika."
Pepper Chili Pie F1
A unique miniature Bell Pepper that is mildly hot when fruits turn red. These peppers are compact, easy to grow and adapt well to a container or small garden planting. Another plus is their dark green foliage and ability to set fruit even under hot humid conditions. Each plant yields 25 to 30 fruits and can be eaten fresh or cooked.
"A word to the wise," cautioned one judge, "plant these on the opposite side of your garden from your sweet bells – I only absentmindedly confused the two once!"
Pepper Mad Hatter F1
This exotic pepper wins on uniqueness alone! However, the plant's vigor, earliness, high yields, large size and awesome taste all contribute to its high score among AAS judges. Mad Hatter is a member of the Capsicum baccatum pepper species from South America commonly used in Bolivian and Peruvian cuisine. You can impress your friends by growing this pepper and showing off the novel three-sided shape and deliciously sweet taste. The taste has a refreshing, citrusy floral flavor that remains sweet, only occasionally expressing mild heat near the seeds. Be prepared for vigorous and robust plants that are easy to grow because they were bred for North America's many growing conditions. Use your abundant harvest raw in salads, pickled or stuffed with cheese…a new favorite!
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By Kate Karam, Monrovia,
Photographs courtesy of Monrovia
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