Tim Wilcox owns the Kitchen Garden Farm with his wife, Caroline Pam. They are big fans of hot chilies and have found several varieties that grow well in our climate.
Sriracha Peppers: Huy Fong sriracha is made with red ripe jalapeño peppers, but we like to use a mix of cayenne, cherry bomb, and large paprika peppers instead. We find that they ripen earlier and give us a longer season for making our sauce. Paprikas give volume and color, cayennes give heat, and the fleshy cherry bombs give a nice thick texture to the sauce.
Thai Chilies: We grow a variety called Bangkok, which makes a very large plant that is loaded with hundreds of skyward facing, bracingly hot chilies. At the end of the season we harvest whole plants, dry most of the red ones and freeze the remaining green peppers for making Thai food throughout the year. Fresh or frozen, they’re perfect for green papaya salad and various dipping sauces and condiments like nam pla prik (chilies in fish sauce). The dried peppers can be roasted and made into roasted chili powder and roasted chili paste (nam prik pao).
Habanero Types: The habanero family of peppers (Capsicum chinese) contains a multitude of gorgeous chilies of all different colors. These peppers are insanely hot, but also have amazing tropical fruity flavors. In addition to the typical orange variety, we love Fatali, a large African pepper that is pointy and scary-looking, and Caribbean Red, which makes a beautiful red, heavily ribbed habanero-type pepper. All three are easy to grow and high yielding here in Massachusetts.
Ghost Peppers: We grow Bhut Jolokia ghost peppers. Despite what you may read online, these peppers are no harder to grow than habaneros. They are indeed seriously, perhaps dangerously, hot, but they’re also really flavorful and make a great hot sauce just boiled with a little salt and vinegar and puréed. A few drops of the sauce allows you to experience the intensity and flavor of these peppers without overdoing it.