The Spice Diaries

Last year, Matt and I had a wonderful holiday in Devon, frequenting all the lovely places I visited on many a family holiday. One place that was new to us, however, was The South Devon Chilli Farm (Website here). This independent, relatively small business is a fantastic, and free, daytime activity. There is a map of all of the chilli’s and where they are grown, a chilli treasure hunt for little ones and it’s just a lovely place to wander around and wonder at the amount of varietals that are grown in the heart of the English countryside.

The polytunnels are full of multicoloured chilli plants which hail from South America, Asia and even more remote areas which one might not associate with the fruit. I was amazed at the deep purple of the Purple Jalapeno, the various colours of the the Volcano, and just the amount of fruits per plant.

On finishing the chilli trail, we sat on the terrace and enjoyed some of the delights of the cafe. These included a savoury cream tea (well, when in Devon!), using cream cheese and chilli jam and the most succulent, salty and slightly spicy grilled padron peppers (which has led to a love affair with them for both of us!). Looking out at the orchard beyond, Matt was really taken with the idea of growing chilli’s and led to him buying, amongst other things, several packets of seeds.

He purchased two varieties; Ring of Fire and Volcano. The former was purported to produce red, waxy varieties which look like your typical chilli emoji (go and look at that now). The Volcano, as previously mentioned, would produce clusters of red and orange, stocky chilli’s. Both would produce a similar level of heat (67000 scoville), but with varying degrees of fruitiness.

So we had the chilli seeds and, inevitably, they were stored in the garage until we found the time to plant. Then Lockdown happened. Matt found the time he had been looking for to dedicate to his chilli fantasy and so began planting the seeds and placing the pots in our conservatory. I should say now, as we were not confident in our ability as novice chilli growers, Matt decided to plant ALL the seeds we had.

Fast-forward 8 weeks and we had various levels of little shoots popping up for both plants. Matt began a schedule of watering and feeding the plants and, as summer approached, it seemed that every pot would produce fruit.

And that is exactly what happened! As of August, we had 42 plants all producing fruit. We can’t get through them fast enough! We have given many fruits away and I have been experimenting with Tomato Chilli jam and a Siracha which is not for the faint of heart. The Ring of Fire has a wonderful fruitiness which works really well in stir-fry and with Caribbean cooking. The Volcano, on the other hand, is good for chilli con carne (or con carne chilli if we’re being pedantic) and curries. I will be experimenting with smoking and drying chilli’s too, posting the various successes and failures along the way!

Below are some photos of our journey so far!

Ripening Ring of Fire
Volcano
Just a few (!) more ripening!

Published by TheEnthusiasticEater

Full time teacher; full time foodie. Based in Essex. For any enquiries please email me at claudiamartin34@hotmail.co.uk or find me on LinkedIn.

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