Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wild Peppers in Texas - Chile Pequin

Chile Pequin

There are several native edible plants that grow wild in central Texas. Texas is home to and part of the natural range of a wild chile pepper, Chile Pequín (Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum) is a small and very hot pepper that is the mother of the majority of our cultivated varieties and bears fruit almost all year long when winter temperatures are moderate. It is quite tasty and easy to find. Known affectionately as “bird peppers”, they come up most anywhere birds have deposited the seeds, especially mockingbirds. You can also find dried ones for sale in many ethnic Latin American grocery stores and markets.

The most common uses are in salsa, soups, vinegars, beans, and pickled. They are used mainly for a liquid hot pepper. The green peppers are usually pickled in vinegar and the red ones are usually dried and crumbled for use as a seasoning.

The Pequín is the smallest of all chilies and is only about a third of an inch long and wide. Do not let its small size mislead you. They are extremely hot and have a Scoville Heat Unit rating of anywhere from 30,000 to 60,000 heat units. They also have a very complex and nutty flavor which may account for their popularity with birds. Just two of these small peppers smashed in a bowl of beans will get the party started!

There was a time when every South Texan had a bottle of chile pequins in vinegar sitting on the dinner table. The usual custom was to add vinegar as you used the pepper sauce. Later, when a new crop of chile pequins were available, you got rid of the old chiles and made a fresh batch.

Chile Pequin Liquid Sauce

Ingredients: (depending upon the size of your sauce bottle)

1/2 cup chile pequins

1/2 cup white vinegar


Clean a previously used pepper sauce bottle with boiling water. Pack the chilies tightly in the bottle. Make sure they have been thoroughly rinsed and cleaned.

The next step is to heat some vinegar in a small pan over low heat until it just begins to steam. Pour your hot vinegar over the chiles to the top of the jar.

Allow the mixture to sit until cooled and wait for at least a day before using your sauce. The bottle can be refilled with vinegar several times.

You can get additional information here:

Be aware. Be informed. Be prepared.



Anonymous said...

I'm trying the the chile pequin sauce with peppers in my backyard. Do you just use the liquid or do people eat the pickled peppers. Also wondering if it needs to be blended or anything.

Anonymous said...

You just use the flavored vinegar. It is put in beans, greens, and just about anything else that could use a little acid and heat. The peppers are kept until the fresh peppers come out again and then discarded.

Shauna Venrura said...

My friends husband is from Mexico and his mother made some for him with carrots and onions. They eat it like you would canned chili's but she cooks her carrots pepper and onion in vinegar then just puts in a canning jar after cooled some.

Anonymous said...

How do you keep the red peppers from turning brown?

RedMolly1952 said...

I do not live in Texas and am attempting to grow the Chiltepins indoors in the North East after waiting for them to sprout ALL SUMMER. My plan and hope is to CAN them with a pressure canner in vinegar. My questions are 1. has anyone canned them and how (pressure or water bath) AND 2. does anyone know how they are in apple as opposed to white vinegar

Anonymous said...

Fresh chili pequin is the best. Simply take a small handful, rub them in the palm of your hands to bring out the naturals oils. Place them in a mortar with a little bit of oregano, pinch of salt, and a little but of water. The flavors and aroma are amazing! Add to some tacos or you can even use it as a marinade. Works great with chicken or pork. Enjoy!!