Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper

For many years I've been growing what was the World's Hottest Pepper, the Bhut Jolokia, or Ghost Pepper. In my book, Make Your Own Hot Sauce, I give some background of the pepper and offer a few recipes in using it in hot sauce. This year for the first time, I'm growing the current record holder for the world's hottest pepper, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. Later today I'll be making a batch of hot sauce with both of these peppers.
The two world's hottest peppers.
Depending on the source (I accept the New Mexico State University Chili Pepper Institute's measurements) the heat, measured in Schoville Heat Units, or SHU, can vary slightly. They rate the Ghost pepper at 330,000 to 1,023,310 SHUs. The new record holder, the Scorpion, weighs in at 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 SHUs.
In other words, it's pretty darned hot! So you may wonder, why would anyone want peppers that hot? Well, for the guys (and it IS a guy thing) who crossed the ghost pepper with a Red Savina habanero pepper and came up with the Scorpion, it means bragging rights. It also means they can license seed companies to sell their seed, and make a profit. But beyond that, believe it or not, these intensely hot peppers, have flavor, as well. Flavors not necessarily found in other peppers. And you don't eat them raw, or you shouldn't because it can be dangerous. But if you mix them with other kinds of peppers and ingredients, you get the flavor and not as much of the heat. To give an idea of where this heat comes on the giant pepper heat scale, keep in mind the Scorpion comes in at between one million and half and two million heat units. For comparison, look at the Jalapeño and Cayenne listing, below.
A Jalapeño pepper is rated at 3,500 to 8,000 SHUs. And my favorite for roasting and eating, the Poblano, is almost without heat, with 1,000 to 2,500 SHUs.
But if I combine some roasted Poblanos, a few Jalapeños, onions, garlic, vinegar, cilantro and a couple of Ghost peppers and a Scorpion, it will be a tasty hot sauce for just about anything I put it on. I'm getting ready to do a program on making hot sauce for the Ozarks Area Community Congress coming up next weekend and we'll have some tasting of my different sauces. This one I'll probably name, Two Ghosts and a Scorpion.
Various hot sauces I've made so far.


Pepper Roasting

A few peppers in the roaster.
We celebrated the Fall Equinox by traveling up to visit our friends at Bear Creek Farm near Osceola, Missouri, and roasting baskets of peppers. Robbins gathered about a half bushel of their sweet New Mexico peppers. I also took a few Hatch peppers, those sweet ones that Hatch, New Mexico is famous for, along with some of my Sugar Chilies from home.
Everyone took a turn with the roaster.
It takes only about 10 minutes to roast 5 lbs of peppers. With the flame turned up high, the pepper skins immediately start popping and sizzling. As the peppers turn over the fire, most of the charred skin falls through the bottom of the cylinder onto the ground. It's easy work and fun, too.
Scraping away the remaining skins.
While it's not necessary to remove all the charred pepper skins, we decided to give it a try. The charred skin flavor is actually good and adds a smoky flavor to dishes. But it was fun seeing how clean we could get the peppers. At the same time we removed the stem top, which also pulled out some of the seeds. The seeds can just as easily be left in.
Roasted, skinned peppers, draining.
Shown above is about half of the peppers we roasted. The roaster makes quick work of the peppers and even cleaning off the remaining skins is pretty fast. What we learned after we'd done the scraping, was, putting them in a pan of water makes it easy to simply wash away the skins and is less work than scraping. But it was all quite pleasant and at the end of about an hour, we had enough roasted peppers to fill several gallon zip-plastic bags. Today they'll be laid out on cookie sheets over waxed paper and frozen. Once frozen, they'll be stacked in zip bags where they will keep in the freezer for many months. Of course they're so tasty they'll never last that long!
Sugar Chilies, ready for roasting.
And what does one do with roasted peppers, you may ask? Here are a few ways we use them. Instead of freezing the peppers, cut  up the roasted peppers, put them in a jars and cover with olive oil; they will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks. Use them like you would any canned pimentos. Roll strips of roasted peppers around small pieces of cream cheese, then roll the whole thing in thinly-sliced ham, slice in bite sizes and run a toothpick through each slice and serve as appetizers.

Add chopped, roasted peppers in scrambled eggs. I like to lay slices of roasted pepper on a sandwich, with some avocado, tomato, some cheese and toast it. Or, my favorite way is to use one or two roasted peppers in my morning burrito (which includes a bit of sausage, some onion, fresh sweet or hot pepper, even a bit of summer squash, all cooked with some taco seasoning and rolled in a tortilla. That's my favorite breakfast!
My favorite breakfast burrito.
You've read me say before I make lots of hot sauce from the 40+ varieties of peppers I grow. Roasted peppers, whether fresh or frozen, are a perfect ingredient for making hot sauce. If you want to make your own hot sauce, you can order my book, Make Your Own Hot Sauce, from my website.

After the pepper roasting, we ate bowls of chili for supper. We all put some of our chopped up, freshly roasted peppers in our chili. It was just about a perfect first day of the fall season!


Robin Mather, The Feast Nearby

Senior Associate Editor of Mother Earth News cavorts in the garden at daybreak at Long Creek Herb Farm. How's that for a headline?

Robin Mather
The great thing is, we're so far off the beaten path, or even a good road, that people who visit us have to really want to be here. That's fun for us, of course! Robin Mather came from Mother Earth News in Topeka, Kansas to meet up with Felder Rushing, from Jackson, MS, who I posted about last week, for a stop-over at our place before they headed over to Baker Creek's monthly farmers market day.

Robin is not only an editor, but also a former food editor for the Chicago Tribune. That probably meant I should have been intimidated at planning meals for her, but once I learned she has raised goats for years, keeps chickens in her back yard, lives simply from the garden and is a true "foodie" I didn't worry. "Foodies" as you know, are those of us who enjoy the actual taste of good food, whether it's a freshly-picked, ripe tomato, or a lavish meal with a glass of wine. It's the taste we go for, not a meal for the sake of eating. So of course I had fun cooking from the garden. Here's the menu for the evening they arrived:
White Grape and Mint Salsa with chips
That day's freshly canned salsa from the garden
Gazpacho Salad with Cucumber and homemade crackers
Chicken breasts stuffed with Lamb's Quarters and Sweet Potato leaves, served with "Green Sauce" made of French sorrel, herbs, lemon juice and olive oil
French greenbeans flash-fried with garlic and lemon zest
Zucchini Crab Cakes
Corn Pudding
Josh's freshly-baked sourdough bread
Blackberry-Basil Sorbet
Part of the meal, showing chicken, corn pudding, zucchini crab cake and beans.
Robin and I hadn't met before so it was fun getting to know a bit about her. I knew she worked at Mother Earth News and lucky for us, she brought along her wonderful book, The Feast Nearby, a collection of essays and recipes from a year of eating locally on a budget of $40 a week. (The full title is: The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering and eating locally (all on $40 a week). You can order the book on Amazon by clicking here. The book is wonderful. Forced to hibernate in a tiny cabin and try to regroup after such major changes, The Feast Nearby shows what kind of person Robin really is, kind, loving, tenacious, unwilling to let life's slings and arrows bring her down.
It was so much fun having Robin Mather and Felder Rushing in the garden and I hope they will come back again soon. Felder brought fig preserves from his grandmother's fig bush in Mississippi. Robin brought us a beautiful bottle of green walnut cordial - yes, made of walnuts back in June when they were still green! And it is outstanding. Josh and I both feel so fortunate to know such kind and generous people. I absolutely love fig preserves - a rare treat for us, and now I am devoted to green walnut cordial, too!

Thanks for stopping by to read what's been happening in our garden this week! Happy gardening.


Felder Rushing Visits the Garden

If you read this blog for very long (or search through the archives at the right side of the page), you'll know I've mentioned Felder Rushing numerous times. From his quirky truck garden to  his observations on life, he's always fun to be around.
Felder's truck garden has over 70,000 miles on it. He can grow a garden anywhere!
We were tickled to have Felder come up our way from Jackson, Mississippi for a visit. He's had me on his radio show, the Gestalt Gardener on Mississippi Public Radio, several times, but this is the first time he's been to Long Creek Herb Farm to visit the garden.
Felder brought us a copy of his new book, Slow Gardening: No-Stress Philosophy for All Senses and All Seasons. He's a brilliant writer and his observations about life and gardens always surprise and delight me. He also brought along his book on bottle trees. I've always disliked bottle trees (hated is probably too strong a word, but I've come close) but Felder has made a convert of me over the years. The afternoon sunlight as it filters through colored bottles is like a stained glass window, he has said so many times I've come to believe it. I've always contended I wouldn't have a bottle tree in my garden, but Felder pointed out that I already have one "in bud" ready to bloom into bottles, in my lavender bed.
A budding bottle tree.
Felder is a prolific writer and his new book on bottle trees will make you salivate to have one in your own garden. You can read more about it here.

Mostly we walked the garden and talked plants. Then we ate from the garden and talked some more. It's always a thrill to have a friend and fellow gardener on the farm, speaking "plant-ology" and tasting the garden bounty, whether right from the vine or later from the table.

Felder carries with him a worn-out, torn up copy of White Trash Cooking and before he and a friend (more later about that) he pulled out a page from the introduction and read what's underlined below. It was a great ending to a wonderful visit.