I love peppers of all kinds, especially when they are ripe. Of course, a ripe pepper of any color has a flavor that is totally different from that very same pepper when it is green. But I found out pretty quickly that it isn’t always easy to grow peppers to maturity. As a rule peppers seem to be pretty picky about their growing conditions. They need warm weather to ripen but can’t take too much heat, and need enough moisture to grow but not so much as to cause disease problems, and so on. Fortunately, there are some peppers that aren’t as picky as others. For me, the open pollinated Jimmy Nardello is one such pepper. I’ve sung its praises here before, but I think it is worth mentioning again in its very own Spotlight.
I love food that has a story, and this pepper certainly has one. Giuseppe and Angela Nardiello brought a few seeds of the family’s favorite pepper along with them when they immigrated to the U.S. from southern Italy in 1887. Their son Jimmy kept the strain of peppers going, and donated some to the Seed Saver’s Exchange before he died in 1983. And I for one am so glad he did! It’s been a star performer for me here ever since I started growing it.
Jimmy Nardello is often listed in catalogs as a ‘frying pepper’, but that’s not the only thing you can do with them for sure. You don’t even have to cook them at all, because they are quite tasty eaten raw. One of my favorite cooking methods is to grill them, which tends to bring out the rich sweetness of this pepper. And they are also great when dehydrated, which concentrates the flavor even more.
In my garden, Jimmy Nardello is early to ripen, and is usually the first ripe sweet pepper I harvest. It’s prolific, and I’ve not had any issues yet with disease or pest problems.
For an easy to grow open pollinated sweet pepper, Jimmy Nardello is at the top of my very short list. I hope you’ve enjoyed this Saturday Spotlight, and I’ll be back soon with another variety.
To see my other Saturday Spotlights, visit the Variety Spotlights page.