effects of growing conditions on the flavor of peppers

judo_and_peppers(Tampa FL)March 27, 2014

it seems many of the conversations we have and the decisions we make when it comes to growing medium and fertilization habits are focused on getting higher yields. and that is logical. after all we want tons and tons of peppers.

but I was thinking about how the wine nerds like to talk about how grapes grown in different locations taste different, due to different growing conditions (to me it all tastes terrible, I'm a dark beer kind of guy). and I was wondering if the same was true for peppers.

to phrase the question better:

does an in ground pepper taste different from one grown in 5-1-1?

what changes would you make to your grow setup if the goal was maximum flavor instead of maximum yield? is there a happy medium?

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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Without any scientific basis, I would say ground with a combination of organic and in-organic soil should be better. Mediums like 5-1-1 are practically bare with no essentails for the plant and what you add out of the can may or may not be equal to in ground soil. .

BTW: I am set to grow all my peppers in containers, in some version of 5-1-1.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 10:33AM
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I agree with seysonn. Tomatoes from the volcanic soils of Italy, Anaheims from the soils and conditions of New Mexico all have their claim to be the best.

To me, I don't have that sensitive of a palate to notice the differences. I've had Anaheims in New Mexico and out of my SoCal backyard amended soil.... Tastes the same to me. But, like I said, that's MY palate

Unfortuanately, as far as superhots, I grew several Nagas last year in 5-1-1 and 1 in the ground. But the strain in the ground was different than those in containers. Unfair to make a comparison there but the flavor difference wasn't discernible... especially after 20 seconds of eating ;)


    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 11:32AM
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judo_and_peppers(Tampa FL)

I see. to be fair, this is not an issue I am worried about. I grew my peps in containers last year, and they all tasted fine to me. I figured this could be a topic to generate some interesting discussion. I'm also curious about which macros or micros have an effect on pepper flavor.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 1:22PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Well, first you have to establish that peppers have flavor. There are those that contend that they don't because the heat overshadows (melts?) everything.

My own self I am of the opinion that they have quite distinct flavors. Yet the heat does make fine comparisons .. er .. challenging.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 3:08PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

In my opinion, the most dramatic effect on flavor comes from watering habits prior to harvest, and then the subsequent timing of the harvest. I, personally, abstain from watering a day or two before harvest so that the sugar and capsaicin concentrates in the pods.

If nutrients are the key to flavor, then a plant in a container of 5-1-1 that is provided a complete source of nutrients ought to stand up to anything in the ground, where certain surpluses and deficiencies are usually guaranteed.

As for the "organic" argument.....well, taste-tests of tomatoes have shown that people respond more to the packaging than to the actual flavors they are able to detect. In other words, if I put an "organic" label on a hand-crafted wooden basket and present that to consumers, they will most likely report better flavor than the same tomatoes presented in a generic grocery store container.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 8:37PM
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i can tell you a couple of years ago i had a Jalapeno pepper plant that had the hottest damn peppers.
i had no way to testing scoville units, but i feel pretty confident it would have ranked up there with the best of them.

i had another plant in the front yard, from the same seed/pepper that did not produce peppers anywhere near as hot.
im not sure what it was, they both got a lot of light
i think sometimes its just genetics and the seed you get

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 5:12PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Genetics and the seed you get, yes....and the fact that Jalapenos are notorious for variable heat, from pod to pod on the same branch even. On two different plants, all bets are off.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 6:03PM
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