In 1999, the Habanero chilli pepper was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's hottest chili with most habaneros rating between 200,000 and 300,000 on the Scoville scale. Since that time several growers have attempted to breed habanero plants to produce hotter, heavier, and larger peppers. The record has since been displaced by a number of other peppers, and it is still continuing to change every few years.
The 'Caribbean Red' is a cultivar within the habanero family that probably originated in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, but it is now commonly grown in the Caribbean and North America.
They aren't the hottest chillies in the world, but clocking up to a massive 350,000 to 445,000 SHU's these are probably as hot as one should sensibly go. Put simply, this is a ferociously hot chilli that can be up to twice as hot as a standard Habanero Chili. For those who can get used to the heat, behind this will be found a gorgeous fruity, citrusy flavour and floral aroma. For the uninitiated, eat with extreme care as these are very hot. Use in salsas, chutneys soups and Caribbean cuisine, they mix especially well in salsas with fruit.
'Caribbean Red' chilies plants grow like a bush, about 120cm (4ft) tall look more like a fruit tree than a pepper. The plants may need support late in the season when they can be loaded with numerous pods per plant. This variety can realistically be grown anywhere, it even grows nicely in northern climates, either in summer gardens or in large pots.
Shaped vaguely like a lantern, the pods mature from green to bright red, and grow to about 4cm (1½in) in length and 2.5cm (1in) in width. They mature from light green, to light orange to light red then to dark red. They may also be in many of these stages at the same time sometimes with patches of chocolate brown colour or skip right to light red, all on the same plant.
If you’re thinking about moving into the realm of super hot peppers, take a stop off at this chili first. It’s at the lower end of the scorching hot area of the pepper scale, so it’ll help prepare you for the Ghost peppers and Scorpion peppers that lay beyond.
Storage of Seeds:
Store seeds away from children, sealed in their packaging in a cool, dry, dark place, or in a fridge. Never store them in a freezer as the sudden temperature drop is likely to kill them. Don't leave the seeds in direct sunlight as the heat generated may kill them.
Sowing: Sow from mid February to mid July
Fill small cells or trays with a good sterile seed compost and sow the seeds on the surface. “Just cover” with a fine sprinkling (3mm) of soil or vermiculite.
Keep the compost moist - don't let the top of the compost dry out (a common cause of germination failure) If you wish, spray the surface with a dilute copper-based fungicide.
Cover the pot or tray with plastic film or place in a heated propagator, south facing window or a warm greenhouse. The ideal temperature is around 18 to 20°C (65 to 72°F)
When the seedlings have produced their first pair of true leaves they can be potted on into individual 7 to 10cm (3 to 4in) pots. Use good quality potting compost and mix in some organic slow release fertiliser. Pot the chilli on again before it becomes root-bound.
Water the seedlings regularly, but don't let them become waterlogged as this encourages rot. Don't let them dry out as they rarely recover at this stage. Water the soil, not the foliage. Once the plants have established, it is better to water heavy and infrequently, allow the top inch or so to dry out in between watering.
Seedlings should be grown in good light, but should not be exposed to direct sunlight from late spring to early autumn. Weaker sunlight from autumn to spring is unlikely to do them harm. Once seedlings have put on some growth they need lots of light. Growing them under a grow-light produces excellent stocky plants, as will a warm sunny windowsill. Adult chilli plants need lots of light. However, more than 4 hours or so in hot direct sunlight will dry them out quickly.
Acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 2 to 3 weeks before they are moved permanently outside. Plant them into rich moist soil. Flower do not form and fruit will not set if the temperature is much below 17°C (62°F) for most of the day, so wait until June/July for best results with outdoor planting.
After the first flowers appear, feed every one or two weeks with a half-strength liquid tomato feed. You could also add some Seaweed extract to the water once a week.
Pollinating Flowers: (optional)
Chilli plants are self fertile and will generally pollinate themselves. However, if you want to give them a helping hand to ensure that lots of fruit are set indoors, use a cotton wool bud to gently sweep the inside of the flowers, spreading the pollen as you go. The flower's petals will drop off as the green middle part of the flower starts to swell slightly. This is the chilli pepper beginning to grow.
Chillies will take a few weeks to develop and a further couple weeks to mature. You may pick them off the plant any time after they are fully developed but the longer you leave them on the hotter they will become. Do not leave them on for too long, as delaying after the chili is ready for harvest will result in a decline of further yields.
After picking, if you aren't going to eat them fresh, dry the peppers by putting them into a mesh bag, hang the bag up in a dry, airy, but not sunny spot. When they are completely dry, you can make paprika by grinding the peppers. Don't grind the stalks. You can regulate the spiciness of the result by including more or less of the seeds and veins.
Be careful handling chilli seeds as they can cause a painful burning sensation: wash your hands thoroughly .
DO NOT rub your eyes after handling chilli seeds!!!
The habanero chili comes from the Amazonas region, and from there it was spread through Mexico and was carried north to the Caribbean via Colombia. Upon its discovery by Spaniards, the habanero chili was rapidly disseminated to other areas of the world, to the point that 18th-century taxonomists mistook China for its place of origin and called it ‘Capsicum chinense’ (‘the Chinese pepper’). While Mexico is the largest consumer of this spicy ingredient, its flavour and aroma have become increasingly popular all over the world.
The Scotch bonnet is often compared to the habanero, since they are two varieties of the same species, but have different pod types. Both the Scotch bonnet and the habanero have thin, waxy flesh. They have a similar heat level and flavour. Although both varieties average around the same level of heat, the actual degree of piquancy varies greatly from one fruit to another with genetics, growing methods, climate, and plant stress.
Habanero peppers originated in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and are related to the Jamaican Scotch bonnet and are named after the Cuban city of La Habana.
'Habanero' is the generic name given to all varieties of chillies classified as Capsicum chinense. Though erroneous, the term 'Scotch Bonnet' is also often used for these chillies. The species name 'chinense' implies that they come from China, but this is not true: like the other four domesticated species of Capsicum (C. annuum, baccatum, pubescens and frutescens) they are, in fact, New World plants. To confuse the issue, the 'habanero' term is also used to refer to a particular variety of chilli indigenous to the Yucatan Peninsula; this is a C. chinense and is shaped vaguely like a lantern.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 20 Seeds Common Name Ferociously Hot - 350,000 to 445,000 SHU. Other Common Names Peppers, Capsicum, Chilli, Chile or Chilli Family Solanaceae Genus Capsicum Species chinense Cultivar Caribbean Synonym Scotch Bonnet Hardiness Tender Perennial often used as an Annual Fruit Lantern shaped 4cm (1½in) in length and 2.5cm (1in) in width. Ripen from green to red Height Grows to around 120cm (4ft) tall Position Grown in good light, but should not be exposed to direct sunlight Soil Rich moist soil. Time to Sow Sow from mid February to mid June Harvest Pick them off the plant any time after they are fully developed Time to Harvest 75 days to harvest