Saturday, July 18, 2009

Glocken Peppers Coming On

Well, this makes me proud: we might be the only people in mid-Missouri growing this type of chili pepper. Some of them are nearly fully grown and only have to turn red.

We bought a single plant last summer from Sue’s niece’s now-retired former band director, Nick Georgiafandis, who is such a big-time gardener that he runs his own produce stand during the summer in northern Ohio.

We were intrigued by these little peppers, which dangle like little red bells from their stalks. Glocken means “bell” in German; and sure enough, Mr. G (as he is belovedly known by the Edison High band members) got his first plants (or seeds? I can’t remember the story) from a German friend. . . . Or something.

Anyway, he grows these curious little peppers and sells them along with lots of other lovely flowers and vegetables, and I suspect there aren’t too many others growing them.

Indeed, there are plenty of German Web sites that reference them—either as “Glocken-chili” or “Glockenpaprika.” Like here, here, and here.

The scientific name is Capsicum baccatum; this variety (var. pendulum?) is apparently originally from Barbados—or according to some Web sites, Bolivia and Peru—and in English it’s called “bishop’s crown,” “Christmas bell,” “friar’s hat,” and “monk’s hat.” Search on those terms to read about them in English.

It’s funny to think that our plants’ ancestors traveled from the Americas to Europe and back again.

It’s a lovely little ornamental—bright red UFOs bobbing around a pretty green cloud of bushy foliage. And the babies are really cute, too.

How do they taste? Well, I don’t know yet! Some of what I’ve read says that the central portions of the fruit can be hot, whereas the flaplike parts that project out are more mild.

But I don’t know yet; we only got a few peppers off of the plant we carried home from Ohio last year (it was pretty late in the season to be planting young chilis), and the peppers we got, we used for seeds.

This year we’re going to have a bumper crop!

. . . Anybody want some?

(Yeah, this is one of the flowers.)

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