This is the latest in a series of posts that I’ve done about my favorite varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs we grow at Happy Acres. To see my other Spotlights, and those from other garden bloggers, visit the Variety Spotlights page.
Today’s Spotlight is on a hot pepper called Cayennetta. Like its name implies, it’s a cayenne type pepper, but one with a milder heat level than most cayennes. The plants yield loads of 3 to 4 inch peppers which go from green to red as they ripen.
The F1 hybrid Cayennetta is a 2012 All-America Selections winner, and I’ve been growing it every year since it was first released. It’s perfect for growing in a container, with compact and well-branched plants that don’t need to be staked or supported. The foliage provides good cover for the developing fruit, and I’ve never had problems with sunscald. And it’s quite ornamental as well as edible, especially when the peppers are ripening.
The generally accepted standard measurement for the heat level of peppers is the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) Scale. Most cayenne peppers are rated at 30,000 to 50,000 SHU. Totally Tomatoes (where I got my seed) has Cayenneta peppers listed at 20,000 SHU, which is still quite hot, but not as hot as most other cayenne peppers. Of course the actually heat level of your peppers will also depend on growing conditions, with stress from heat or drought usually equating to hotter peppers.
In the kitchen, Cayennetta peppers can be used wherever you might use any cayenne pepper. The thin-walled fruits can be used at both the green and red stages to add a bit of heat to both cooked and raw dishes. I usually use most of mine to make hot sauce. I ferment the peppers first for about two weeks, using the technique described here: Fermented Pepper Mash. Fermenting gives the peppers an added layer of flavor, plus it helps the hot sauce keep longer. The peppers in the below photo are fermenting in a jar right now, and I plan on turning them into Homemade Sriracha-Style Hot Sauce. I’ve also used the Cayennetta peppers to make a Tabasco-Style Hot Sauce, and to make a seasoned hot vinegar which is great for adding a little zip to cooked greens.
I hope you have enjoyed this spotlight on a pepper that is easy to grow and one of my all-time favorites. Seed for Cayennetta is available in the U.S. from several sources, including Totally Tomato, Reimers Seeds and Park Seed. I’ll be back soon with another variety to spotlight.