Kick off the growing season early with small-fruited and intensely flavoured pickling chillis
January means one thing to me: the start of the chilli growing season. After months of waiting, finally there’s a chance to spark something new into life. While most vegetables won’t be sown for a good couple of months, these slow-growing, tropical understorey crops need a long season to fruit well – so now is a great time to get your seed orders in. If you are looking for something new in your edible patch this year, give the flashy “super hots” a miss and try your hand at some of the incredible “pickling” varieties.
These small-fruited, intensely flavoured varieties are most commonly found in the cuisines of Latin America. While their diminutive size makes slicing and dicing them as you would a regular spice type inconveniently fiddly, embalmed whole in sweet, spiced vinegar they turn into sticky, jewelled wonders – like the savoury equivalent of a maraschino cherry. Having trialled loads of these over the years, here are my top three choices for adventurous chilli fiends out there.