You’ve likely eaten many pepperoncini peppers in your life, whether you’ve realised it or not. In pickled form, they are common in, or on many meals, including some favourites like pizzas, salads, and sandwiches. In Italy, Pepperoncini peppers are often found on antipasti platters with cured meats, pickles, and olives and they are an essential ingredient in Greek salads and kebabs.
They are a favourite for pickling, often packed in jars and stored in olive oil. Mild, tasty and crunchy, they bring many foods to life.
Pepperoncini peppers barely nudge the pepper scale, they are much closer to a bell pepper and sit next to the pimento pepper in terms of hotness. At only 100 to 500 Scoville heat units, they are probably best described less in terms of ‘heat’, more of a ‘slightly sweet tang’, especially when pickled.
Pepperoncini originally hail from Europe, specifically Italy and Greece both countries have deep ties to this variety. They go by many names. The most common variation is peperoncini (one less p), but the Italians also call it friggitello or a common general pepper name: peperone (not to be confused with the sausage pepperoni). In English, it’s often referred to as the Tuscan pepper, the Greek pepper, or the Sweet Italian pepper.
The pepperoncini plant is a bushy, annual variety that grows to a height of about 100cm (3ft) tall. The peppers it produces are tapered, wrinkled along their length, blunt and lobed at the ends. They are usually harvested at 5 to 8cm (2 to 3in) long, while they are still sweet and yellow-green. When allowed to mature, the peppers turn bright red and grow stronger in flavour.
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 June
The temperature, moisture, and air circulation all play a role in growing plants from seeds. Too little heat, too much moisture, and lack of air circulation will cause poor results. Do not use jiffy peat pots, plugs, or potting soil as the soil becomes too dry or too wet, which can lead to low germination, disease and fungus.
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 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.
Harvesting: Harvest in 85 to 95 days
The peppers will take a few weeks to develop and a further couple weeks to turn from green to gold. Harvest any time after they are fully developed. Use scissors to snip the fruits so you don't damage the plant.
After being roasted and peeled, Peppers can be preserved by either canning or freezing. Store in an airtight container will suffice for several months.
Be careful handling chilli seeds as many can cause a painful burning sensation: Avoid contact with the eyes or any sensitive skin before washing your hands thoroughly.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 20 Seeds Common Name Very Mild: 100 to 500 SHU. Other Common Names Friggitello, Tuscan, Greek or the Sweet Italian pepper. Family Solanaceae Genus Capsicum Species annum Cultivar Pepperoncini Hardiness Tender Perennial Fruit Ripens from green to red Height 100cm (3ft) 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