Why Plant and Eat Hot Peppers?
Have you planted jalapenos, petins (penguin)
or serrano peppers yet? You better! In Texas, it is unconstitutional
Which of the 3 should you plant? Why should
you plant? There actually have been some psychological studies
done regarding the consumption of pepper. The results demonstrate
that for the consumer, the heat from pepper represents a short
emotional factor with no permanent damage. Pepper consumption
can be compared to other daring activities such as parachuting
out of a plane, riding a roller coaster or attending a horror
movie. All these activities are risks that affect the emotional
feeling of the participants.
Studies conclude that the heat of the pepper
can cause a discharge of endorphin from the brain to the nervous
system. This substance produces a sensation of well-being.
As pepper-eating continues, the discharge increases and the
immediate reaction of an irritating heat is replaced by the
pleasures of consumption. Eventually, the pleasurable result
on the psyche is stronger than the sensation of pain in the
The medicinal value of peppers has been recognized
for hundreds of years. Recent tests confirm the validity of
many of their uses that were described as medicinal in pre-Hispanic
and colonial times. Much of this folklore has been documented
in a recently published book, Capsicum Cultura--La Historia
Del Chilli, by Janet Long-Solis. The following are some common
ailments and some old- time pepper remedies found in her book.
The Cough: There are 3 remedies to cure the
cough through the use of pepper. If it is a light cough, you
eat a light pudding with yellow pepper and honey. If the cough
persists, an infusion of teauaxin with pepper and salt is
used. A third treatment consists of a tea from roots of tlacopopoth
(Arundinella hispida), or lime-water mixed with pepper. This
medicine can cure your cold or flu. Within the European medical
theories, adopted by the Indian medicine, the hypocritical
says all things of the universe have opposite characteristics
such as, hot-cold and dry-humid. The cold was opposite to
the hot and humid to dry. A healthy body maintains these contrasts
in equilibrium, but when sick, there is a great load on the
temperatures and when you recuperate, your equilibrium depends
on the nourishment and medicine that contain the adverse qualities
of those your illness provoked. The hot sauces, like pepper,
are considered "hot". They were prescribed for sickness
pertaining to "colds". It is frequently used for
coughs due to colds, bronchitis, asthma, irritated throat
and congestion. It is used in gargle form, balm or ointment
made from the pepper and the leaves. It was known that infusions
were good. It was a hot remedy!
Tongue Injuries: Apply a mixture of pepper
cooked with salt on the injury of the tongue. In this case,
it was probably used as an antiseptic.
The Teeth: You can take the toothache away
by applying a hot pepper with salt to the affected tooth.
If your gums are hurting, apply the same rule to reduce the
infection. Recent studies have proven that heat from the pepper
works against pain, since it affects the body at the brain.
Also, pepper contains vitamins A & C which are essential
to the good health of the gums and teeth.
In the past few years, it has been discovered
that the Capsaicin from the pepper functions as an agent against
pain. The chemical substance from the brain, named "P",
is directly related to the transmission of pain. Scientists
have found Capsaicin stimulates selectively, and will destroy
the substance "P" in certain nerves that end in
the skin and the mucous membranes. In this way, it works as
an anti-sensibilitant. This phenomenon has been observed in
the cardiovascular and respiratory systems where there is
a relation in the effect provoked by the Capsaicin and the
substance "P". The discovery of the effectiveness
of applications of Capsaicin to the dental nerve in the tooth
socket to reduce the substance "P" as a transmitter
for the pain in the dental pulp, justifies the pre-Hispanic
remedy to utilize hot pepper to treat the pain of a tooth.
Digestive Tract: One known function of the
pepper is to incite your appetite, because of its ability
to foment saliva secretion in your mouth. It played a physiological
role in the nourishment of natives because it secretes the
saliva that does not break through in your mouth when, every
day of the year and of your life, you take the same meals—
tortillas and beans. When your taste sensibility grows dull
and weak, you need more pepper sauce so that your food will
not taste like rags. Every day, the sauce will need more serrano
to give your meal more taste.
The Mayans used the pepper to cure an illness
where the symptoms begin as blood showing up in your urine
and feces. It also works on your stomach-ache, and it provokes
diarrhea. For stomach-ache, yellow tomato juice mixed with
pepper is recommended. The Mexican people would treat colic
with a suppository made of lime nitre, sap of liquidambar
and pepper. With this remedy, you would probably get a pain
more intense than the original. In this case, the cure is
worse than the illness.
Constipation: This problem is treated with
pepper and saltpeter in water.
Hemorrhoids: These are also treated with a
remedy made with pepper. I'll bet they wished for the TAM
Mild or the Rio Grande Gold!
Beauty Aids: Beside its medicinal qualities,
the pepper has been used as a beauty product, too. To smooth
your facial skin, it is recommended that you wash your face
with warm urine and apply pepper (yellow chilcozth). In this
case, the pepper may serve the same purpose as an astringent.
Once you smooth your facial skin, you definitely want to be
more attractive to the opposite sex. So, use another remedy
that suggests women bathe in pepper water to increase their
Aphrodisiac: It was advised that the male not
over-use the pepper because it is prejudicial (hurtful) to
their health, mainly because it provokes sensuality. It was
famous for this when it was introduced in Europe in the 16th
Century. In many countries, even now, it still relates to
sexual desires hotter than a pepper! In the Arab nations,
like many parts of the world, the pepper is thought to contribute
to sensual qualities. In Samoa, the pepper is one of the ingredients
of Kava, a love potion of virility.
Stimulant: The consumption of pepper stimulates
perspiration so that it lowers the internal temperature of
your body. As a home remedy, it is a stimulant for hair growth.
There are some who will put them in their socks for better
circulation and to keep feet warm in cold climates. I can
imagine it now, chile petins between toes. Watch out Dr. Scholls
- here we come!
In Malaysia pepper is used over the abdomen
as a stimulant at the time of childbirth. After a birth, it
is used internally to expel the afterbirth.
The Ear: Apply drops of pepper powder boiled
with liquor to ease an ear-ache caused by the cold. This combination
of liquor and pepper was an early sign of secrecy in colonial
Remedy for Too Much Partying: Picante sauce
with garlic is exceptionally good for a hang-over. It is very
popular to overcome the discomfort caused by a night on the
town. I assume that this is the origin of using tomato juice
as a hangover remedy.
Peppers succumb to a light frost and do poorly
when temperatures are in the 40 to 60 degrees F range. The
extreme summer heat in most areas of Texas is too high for
fruit set to occur. Fruit that sets at temperatures above
80 degrees usually are small or poorly shaped. Very little
fruit set occurs at temperatures above 90 degrees. Best yields
occur when temperatures are between 65 and 80 degrees F during
Peppers, like most vegetables, respond well
to banding phosphate 2 to 3 inches below the seed at planting.
Peppers require high fertility rates and regular side dressing.
As with tomatoes, heavy manure rates also increase yield.
Peppers can be attacked by several diseases
that will reduce yields and increase production costs. The
best control is a combination of practices that minimize the
chances of diseases becoming established. Once diseases are
prevalent, they are difficult, if not impossible, to control.
During periods of high humidity, which includes most of the
spring in Texas, apply a fungicide weekly. The best fungicide
to use is one which contains chlorothalonil (Daconil, Multipurpose
Fungicide or Fertilome Broad Spectrum Fungicide) or maneb.
In addition, bacterial diseases severely damage
peppers by causing defoliation. Bacterial spot causes severe
damage to sweet peppers but is not a serious problem of hot
peppers. The bacterium is seed-borne. For control, spray regularly
with a copper fungicide (Kocide) or an antibiotic such as
streptomycin (Agri-Strep). These can be mixed with the fungicide
spray and used on tomato plants also.
The major disease factor affecting pepper production in Texas
has been the susceptibility of varieties to virus diseases.
Virus infection causes leaves to curl, a mottled (leaves spotted
with green) appearance and bloom drop. The plant is severely
stunted and obviously nonproductive.
The virus is spread from one plant to another
by foliage-feeding insects. Since complete annihilation of
insect populations is impossible, controlling the spread of
virus, and subsequently its damaging effects, is impossible
unless the natural resistance in plants is used. There is
no effective chemical control for virus infection once a plant
is contaminated. The problem in developing a virus-resistant
pepper is that there are several virus culprits, rather than
just one, which can cause the damage.
Unfortunately, the jalapeno—the king
of peppers popular with Mexican food—can be severely
affected by virus. The serrano is also susceptible. To remedy
this situation, the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station's
virology breeding program, under the direction of Ben Villalon,
has produced varieties resistant to at least 4 of the virus
diseases which most commonly cause plant damage.
In addition to disease resistance, the jalapeno
and serrano are much superior to standard varieties, and have
been "cooled" down. These peppers are called Texas
A&M (TAM) Mild Jalapeno and Hidalgo Serrano. The pepper
fruit possess high levels of resistance to sunburn, have firm,
thick walls and are ideal to use as Nacho-ring slices. Or,
slice them in half vertically and fill them with cheese or
other tasty fillings.
Most people mistakenly think that the pepper’s
heat comes from the seeds. The tongue?twisting heat compound,
capsaicin, is located primarily in the cross-wall portion
of the fruit. Seeds that are "hot" were contaminated
with capsaicin during processing. Processed peppers contain
much higher capsaicin levels than do raw peppers. This may
be attributed to the thermal processing which allows capsaicin
to spread freely throughout the fruit. It is also believed
that the processing oil (sesame, soybean, etc.) withdraws
or releases capsaicin from the fruit into the pickled or "escabeche"
juice. Most gardeners who have pickled home-grown jalapenos
know that the finished product is hot enough that one pepper
makes a pot of beans so hot they are inedible.
Major insect enemies of peppers in Texas are
leaf miners, cutworms, aphids, spider mites, flea beetles,
pepper weevils and fruitworms. Pepper weevils are especially
devastating to jalapeno peppers since the first sign of damage
is the pepper laying on the ground, i.e., when the weevil
punctures the pepper, it falls from the plant. Take preventive
action with weekly applications of an approved insecticide
such as Cygon.
Maintain adequate soil moisture for optimum
growth, since shedding of flowers and young fruit occurs during
soil moisture-stress. Peppers recover slowly from anything
that slows plant growth. Drip irrigation insures optimum yields
because of the constant supply of moisture.
Normally, peppers are harvested when they are
full size and before they turn red or yellow. Quality peppers
are firm, have thick walls and a dark green color.
Although pepper culture is similar to tomato
production, there are some very important differences. First,
peppers do not transplant as easily as tomatoes do. Transplanted
plants may survive, but if transplant shock occurs, plants
may remain stunted and nonproductive for a long period. Because
younger transplants are probably less root-bound, these smaller
plants experience less transplant shock. Starter solutions
high in phosphorus are a necessity.
Peppers are much more sensitive to cold soils
than are tomatoes. Unless black plastic mulch is used to warm
soils early in the season, and wind protection is available,
peppers should be planted several weeks after tomatoes.
Never cover pepper stalks with soil because
they will not form roots as do tomato stalks. For pepper transplants,
cover only the root system and peat pot with soil. Instead
of forming roots, pepper stalks covered with soil may instead
rot because of soil fungus.
To learn more about growing peppers, see:
If you are excited about all of this pepper
information, here is the best pepper-pickling recipe I know.
Using fresh, TAM Mild Jalapeno peppers, blanch peppers for
3 minutes in boiling water. To prevent collapsing, puncture
each pepper. Pack the blanched peppers into a pint jar, and
before they cool, add the following ingredients:
1/2 medium-sized garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon onion flakes
1 bayleaf, small or large
1/8 teaspoon ground oregano
1/8 teaspoon thyme leaf (not seed)
1/8 teaspoon marojam
2 tablespoon vegetable oil (can also use olive, refined sesame
Cover with a boiling brine solution made up of the following
ingredients, mixed together:
2-1/2 pints vinegar (5%)
2-1/2 pints water
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons salt
Close the containers and process 10 minutes
in boiling water, then let
Note: Jalapenos must be hot when brine solution
is added. The addition of carrot slices adds color to the
jars of pickled jalapenos.
Finally, if you want to learn how to use peppers
to alleviate the pain of arthritis, as well as how to order
seeds of the famous “Parsons Potent Chile Penguin”
peppers, jump on the internet and go to: