Saturday, August 19, 2017

Ol' Dave's "Word of Honor" Seed Endorsements for Albany Co./Zone 5B: Pepper Edition



If you know me you know I don't go willy-nilly recommending things to people. I take it as part of my personal code of honor that people think well of my thoughts and opinions. So unless I am utterly convinced a thing is a superior sort of thing, I keep mum. But I'm gonna go ahead and let you in on a couple whizbanger pepper varieties that are Dave-garden tested and personally approved.

Now first, a word on my pepper patch and general pepper preferences. Central New York cuisine (specifically the cuisine of the Utica/Rome area) has some of the most wonderful and unique concepts in the state. The backbones of many dishes particular to the area are a couple varieties of pepper. You have the "long hots (or sweets)" frying peppers and the cherry pepper.

My "last meal before the chair" dish is probably a steaming plate of the hot pepper appetizer with some crusty bread from Vescio's Franklin Hotel in Rome. This is a simple dish of long hot peppers grilled in olive oil, usually with the peppers on a spectrum of green to red. Jon in Albany has a good picture of the dish over on his weblog.

I have tried a variety of peppers over the years to imitate this culinary masterpiece, but last year I stumbled upon this type.


These are sweet "Jimmy Nardello Italian Frying" peppers. I got them here. I have seen the name "Jimmy Nardello" attached to various brands (even Burpee sells them), but I can't speak to any of those. These ones I have used for two years now and they are wonderful. Prolific, great germination, healthy plants, no disease, no rotten peppers... Just seem to do great in my garden.

Look at how these bad-boys fry up!


I will say that "sweet" isn't the best word for these as they pack a good amount of heat while still being flavorful. A+ peppers. Don't know that I will ever grow another variety of frying peppers.

The next variety of pepper that is ubiquitous in Utica/Rome type Italian-American cuisine is the humble cherry pepper. Usually canned in vinegar, you find cherry pep-peps in Riggies, Utica Greens, and other places where you want a nice vinegar/pepper punch.

Again, I have tried numerous brands of seeds and starts for cherry peppers, but I've been sort of disappointed with a few. But this year I've been growing giant shiny suckers! Look at these monsters.


You want to have a laugh? The seed that I have found that does best in my garden is these humble guys -


That's right folks. The humble 50 cent seed pack that I've consistently found at Walmart seems to consistently do the best. I'll have enough to can and last me the whole year! Good flavor and nice and spicy. So don't judge a book by its cover with these guys. Give them a whirl.

I think my next mission is to find what pepper they use to do Utica Grind (or double cut) red pepper. Maybe dry some of my own and grind 'em up.

So happy gardening and god bless the greater Utica/Rome area.

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