Journey of the Arbol Chili Pod

ronnyb123(Zone 9)February 18, 2014

On one of my adventures, ok a trip to the grocery store, I was in the produce ayle looking for veggies. After picking up what I needed, I noticed something stuck to my foot. It was some sort of dried chili, an Arbol chili to be exact. You know, the kind you find in the bins, dried and ready to use in your Mongolian Beef or other favorite food. Its the long skinny one, not those short japanese ones. Anyway, as I pulled it off my shoe, I stuffed it in my pocket to throw away later. After paying for my food and returning to the car, I cleaned out my pocket of change and threw the chili on the front seat, where it remained for a few weeks. My point you ask? Wait Im getting there.

After seeing the chili on the front seat every time I drove somewhere, I decided to try something just for fun. So I took the chili, spread out all the seeds in a wet napkin inside a sealed cup and put them in the seed starter (no I didnt eat the meat, it was already ugly). For a few days, nothing, then suddenly the seeds had tails. Oh the excitement.. lol. Since there were like 20 seeds from the pod, about 12 had tails. Now I took these and dropped them in soil to see if they would develop. Low and behold... Arbol Chili seedlings. So I now have six (I kept the best) of these little seedlings and we will see these develop into some nice Arbol chili fruit and trees.

The moral of this story, if you step on a stange dried chili (not squish a wet one), it may still produce for you and give you years of enjoyment. You will watch something that you thought was dead, come back to life. Interesting little experiment.

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Last year I was on a mission for some cayenne powder. Believe it or not, I was having a hard time finding some. I ended up in WMart tasting the dried chilies. I bought a handful of the Arbols, seeded and ground them.Worked out pretty good.

Not thinking that they would germinate, I threw a handful in a wet paper towel/ziploc. Ended up with 50+ plants and a lifetime supply of Arbols. I made and gave away a ton of ristras.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 10:42PM
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ronnyb123(Zone 9)

50 plants? Thats a lot of chilis. Those suckers are heavy producers.
A few years ago, I dropped some of those dried chili japones in some dirt, never watered them, or even took them out of the pods and totally forgot about them. When the rains came, they sprung up. They never made it past seedling stage but it is amazing how hardy these little buggars.are.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 11:15PM
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Love Chiles de Arboles. One of my mainstays. They're worthless fresh but dried, the flavor and heat level is outstanding. Not too hot, but enough. My originals came from a bin also.


    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 11:57PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Oh, yes, the Arbol is a great chile. I, too, prefer the long pendulous pod rather than the upright Arbols. Be sure to post pics of the progress. I still have dried peppers, and a bunch of peppers in the freezer from growing the Arbols a couple years ago.

Kevin, you're right....they're pretty miserable fresh (and hot, of course), but when dried they have that smoky flavor that works so well for things like a chipotle cream sauce, tortilla soup, et cetera.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 3:12AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Very interesting story.
I am growing some Chilaca from store bought too. The fresh ones aren't that great but when ripens and you dry them, they turn almost black and full of smokey flavor, without smoking or anything.

I am also growing Fresno, Shishito, Cubanelle, Gypsy, Midnight Blue, ..from store bought fresh peppers. Plus something that I bought from an Indo-Pakistani store. The pods are small and round(half the size of Habanero).
They are all growing as seedlings now.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 4:21AM
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esox07 (4b)

I have grown several pepper plants from the seeds of store bought chilis. Like you, I did it mostly for the fun of it, just to see if I could. It is a fun experiment to see what will happen.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 11:01AM
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ronnyb123(Zone 9)

It was just surprising that these would grow. I kind of knew they would... but to say Im growing Arbol chili from dried pods, is not that exciting. So I threw it into a story. Thanks guys for your comments. The little seedlings are doing ok for now, no second set of leaves yet. I will show pictures as they get bigger.

I guess we should all look for the more exotic variety's of dried chili if we cant find the fresh seeds here or anywhere else. But I bet we have them here. LOL

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 12:22PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Ronny, I've been impressed by the toughness of chile seeds. My own Arbols were from a bag of dried chiles that had come from Mexico. I had no idea at what temperature the peppers had been dried, so I wasn't sure if the seeds would be viable....but they definitely were.

Several years ago, a buddy and I were eating some spicy General's Chicken, the kind with lots of dried chiles that were then cooked at high heat with the chicken. Well, I told him the seeds would probably grow, so he spit some out right then and there. Within a few weeks, he had multiple plants, and he even gave me one of them. The peppers turned out to be Takanotsume, a very good Japanese pepper for drying.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 1:04PM
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