Don't be fooled by the innocent beauty of these peppers. I have learned that they are not friendly! And now that I look at this picture, I can almost see a malicious gleam in Helen's eye, because she knows what I have in my bowl, and she's just waiting for me to put on a show.
If I had been using my brain, I would have realized there was a reason that the peppers that managed to grow on the outside of the wire, which keeps the chickens out, didn't have beak marks ( a.k.a. chicken kisses). I was pleased with the lovely red color, and topped off my harvest bowl with more than a dozen from a single plant. Jamie came outside and I was showing off my harvest while he sampled cherry tomatoes. I warned him not to eat one of the peppers yet, since I got the plant from starting seeds for Joe's garden, and he's is notorious for liking super spicy foods. Because I do a terrible job labeling plants once they are in the ground, I had no idea what kind of pepper it was.
So, while we were standing outside, I broke off the end of the pepper and smelled it. It smelled like a bell pepper. Then I touched the end to my tongue. No problem. I put the end of the pepper in my mouth and chewed. Sweet, and tasty. I tell Jamie not to worry, it's a sweet pepper and take a big bite from the pepper. FIRE!!! Aaaaa! It was like I misted pepper spray in my mouth, throat, and on my lips. I didn't even chew, but spit it out. I tell Jamie "it's hot!" and try not to evoke more laughter from him by sprinting into the house to chug milk in the most nonchalant way possible. Turns out there's no way to look cool while tears and drool are leaking from your face.
Once the initial burn subsided, I had a sort of numb heat feeling on my lips and mouth for at least an hour. Since I don't normally bite into fresh hot peppers I can't really say if this is an extremely hot pepper, or a normal hot pepper, but it's the hottest pepper I have ever taken a bite of, for sure. Hot peppers are supposed to release endorphins and make you feel good. I did have a sense of relief once the pain started to fade, but I won't be repeating the experience any time soon. While I was still sipping milk trying to cool the flames, Jamie did some quick interweb research and tells me that the hot part of a pepper is in the "placental fluid". I thought only mammals had placentas, but I get the idea that the hot juice is near the embryos - the seeds, which explains why biting the end of the pepper is not a good test. This mamma pepper plant did a very good job defending her young from this predator, and I will not be eating any of her seed babies. At least not until they are dried, powdered, and cooked.
A friend shared some of his Tia hot peppers recently too, and I think they look really cool once I used a needle and thread to string them. I'm afraid to try one to see how hot they are, and so was he, so who knows.
I put both strands of peppers on a tray in the window of my car to dry them. So of course it rained all the next day, but if the sun keeps shining, I hope to have some dried hot peppers soon.