Oaxaca peppers

kuvaszlvrApril 24, 2012

I received a flyer from Redwood City seed Co. They are selling a variety of Oaxaca pepper seeds (Chihuacle Amarillo, Chilhuacle Negro, Chilhuacle Rojo, Chiltepec, Costeno Amarillo, Costeno Rojo, and De Agua). I was just curious is anyone knows anything about these peppers. Most of what I've found says they ONLY grow in Oaxaca (apparently not), also Craig at Redwood states on the flyer, they are only available every 10 yrs. Why is that? I was considering buying the collection, but I wanted to find out some info on them first. So, does anyone have any knowledge or experience with these peppers? Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Pam

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ottawapepper

I've grown the Chilhuacle Negro.

Here's the description I copied into my seed inventory.

A dark brown Heirloom Chile. Looks like little leather bell peppers. Grown in Mexico's Oaxaca region. The dried chile ranges in color from chocolate brown to deep purple. It's used for "Mole Negro de Oaxaca". It's moderately hot and has a rich, fruity flavor.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 1:50PM
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ottawapepper

Sorry, I forgot to add "they are only available every 10 yrs" sounds like marketing to move stock rather than reality.

I grew it two years in a row.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 1:55PM
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kuvaszlvr

Thanks Ottawapepper. So, about how long before they produce fruit? Also, do you know why so many sites say "only grown in Oaxaca"? Doesn't make sense to me. So, do you give it a thumbs up?
Pam

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 2:12PM
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Edymnion(7a)

"Only grown in X" is usually market speak for "Nobody else bothers to grow this commercially". "Only available every 10 years" to me sounds like market speak for "These are only grown occasionally as a gimmick".

Trust me, if it was good stuff, not only would they grow it every year, but every location with a half way suitable climate would be growing it as well.

Really have to pay attention to market speak. Don't listen to what they're saying so much as to what they're not saying. Like a pain reliever commercial will say "Nothing is stronger", what they aren't saying is "we're the strongest" because everything is the same strength. Waterguns shoot "up to 75 feet!", which if you actually look at it is listing a MAXIMUM distance. It could dribble out the barrel and it would still be correct as it did not go past 75 feet.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 2:34PM
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ottawapepper

Hi Pam,

If I recall correctly, Chilhuacle Negro is in the 100 day range.

The only "true" Oaxaca peppers are the ones actually grown in the Oaxaca region. The same reason you "technically" can't grow a "true" Chimayo, Hatch, Piment d�Espelette etc. outside their respective regions. If you get true seeds, you'll be able to grow a reasonably close to exact version of the chile. You just wouldn't legally be able to sell produce as a "Oaxaca x"

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 2:37PM
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ottawapepper

Hitting submit to soon... I would give the Negro a thumbs up. I liked the flavour in a few moles I made. I was planning to grow it again last season but alas, my sole seedling didn't make it. This season I'm maxed out on ones I need to replenish seed stock on and a few varieties in my inventory I have yet to try.

Bill

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 2:43PM
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kuvaszlvr

Thanks for the info guys. Interestingly, I have found a couple of sites that speak highly of the peppers. I think I will try the Negro definitely, and if I don't like it you'll get the blame ottawapepper. ;-)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 8:34PM
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ottawapepper

Oh great. Thanks Pam, now I have another reason to loose sleep!

Bill

p.s. you have mail

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 9:26PM
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kuvaszlvr

:-) No need to worry Bill, I've found very few peppers that I don't like (except maybe purple jalapeno). The Negro looks similar to a poblano and I've yet to meet a poblano variety that I didn't love.

btw, it's hard to believe that Bill is the only one in the group that has grown any of the 7 peppers, I know there's got to be more out there.

Pam

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 8:20AM
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chocolateidea

I live here in Oaxaca and I use many of these chilies.
Chili de agua is the used fresh for chili rellenos here. Hotter than a poblano but excellent flavor. thinner skinned also used in vinegar. Sliced chilies and onions for a salsa.
Chihuacle Amarillo, Chilhuacle Negro, Chilhuacle Rojo are usually purchased dried and are used in mole negro, and mole coloradito.
Costeno Amarillo is one of my favorite chilis and is a little hard to find here in town. I have only seen it dried. It is thin skinned. It makes a salsa with a wonderful "orange" flavor. flame the chili briefly (always done with dried chilies), then soak for 15 minutes in enough water to cover. put in blender with tomatillos that have been cooked in water for about 10 minutes (boiling) - add chili or tomatillo water to have enough liquid to blend. add salt. if bitter, add sugar, if sweet add lime or vinegar. Like tomatoes, tomatillos are different each time you use them. the citrus flavor is wonderful. I could see using it in a chicken orange dish. but I always make salsa.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 3:24PM
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ottawapepper

Welcome chocolateidea.

Thank you for sharing the Oaxaca chile information and recipe!

I have seen images of the Costeno Amarillo chile but have not grown it yet. I have grown the red Chile Costeno. Can you comment on how it is traditionally used?

Bill

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 6:40PM
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kuvaszlvr

Hi chocolateidae! Thank you so much for your information! Now I know to put de agua and Costeno amarillo on the top of my list!

I'm waiting to hear about Chile Costeno!

One question, you say to flame the chile (always done with dried chiles)... I assume you can also flame them fresh?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 11:37AM
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chocolateidea

Actually I have never seen the red Chile Costeno in the markets. I will ask my Oaxacan expert this Saturday and get back to you. A chile that we get here that is very interesting is the "canary" chili. A fresh yellow pepper that has black seeds - I've read it is a perennial. worth looking for seeds.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 11:41AM
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reginald_25(5)

...also Craig at Redwood states on the flyer, they are only available every 10 yrs. Why is that? I was considering buying the collection, but I wanted to find out some info on them first. So, does anyone have any knowledge or experience with these peppers? Any info would be greatly appreciated.
I do some testing (for pungency) for Craig now and again. In fact I tested some of the Oaxacan dries mentioned here (most were mildly pungent). Anyway, he indicates that some of these peps have been available to him every decade or so because he could only acquire them in Oaxaca, not because they can only be grown every decade. Craig also told me that some of these dried peps are fetching premium prices for reasons that he could not explain. So maybe try to grow out a few plants and save their seeds if the peps are worthy.
Reggie

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 2:20PM
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ottawapepper

chocolateidea, thank you for offering to check with your Oaxacan expert.

The Canary chili sounds like a yellow Rocoto, black seeds / C. pubescens.

You read right, all peppers are perennial, it's just that a lot of people treat them as annuals due to their colder climate.

Thanks again,

Bill

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 5:49PM
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chocolateidea

from oaxaca
checked with a couple of local cooks. Seems I've been overlooking the red chili costeno. Seems it's everywhere and considered here a cheap everyday chili. nothing very interesting. seldom used for salsa because there are so many better chilis at the same price. They would more often use the pasilla -dried, the habanero-fresh, the canario (fresh) or something else more interesting. It is used in a basic stew or soup but everybody seemed to think - acceptable but not wonderful. We use the pasilla - a dried chilaca a lot. Plant this if you want the taste of Oaxaca. One way to eat it is as a chili relleno with plantain (here called platano macho) inside but also with picadillo(spiced pork or chicken with perhaps fruit and tomatoes) inside.
Always we quickly run the dried chilies over a flame. amazingly this makes them quite soft. Then they are usually soaked in water for a short while.
If trying to recreate the taste of Oaxaca use the fresh serrano for green salsa. So grow some tomatillos. One of our favorites here and served as a table salsa or on chiliquiles con salsa verde. The tomatillos are prepared 3 different ways - raw in a green salsa, boiled in water with just about any chili, and sliced in half and roasted dry in a skillet (especially with a smoked chili)We often dry roast the onion and garlic used in salsas. This makes the taste smoother.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 6:36PM
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ottawapepper

Wow, thanks for following up. To be honest, I used my red Costeno for flakes and for adding some heat to soups. I didn't use it for mole or salsa.

The Canario you reference is the Canary you mentioned earlier, correct?

Just wondering, did your chefs offer any recipes? Just asking... hint... hint ;-)

Bill

p.s. I'm growing 2 tomatillo plants this year, love them!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 7:02PM
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kuvaszlvr

I second WOW Thanks chocolateidea! I think I am going to increase my 2 tomatillo plants to 5 or 6, I've got toma verde, gigante, purple, and pineapple. I was only growing the gigante and purple, (selling the rest) until now.

I've got a dumb question, one of the ways you said you prepare tomatillos is boiled in water with any chile- then what do you do with them? just eat them or mix them with something? I never thought of roasting one, I've always just used them raw in salsas.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 8:51AM
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dremann

Howdy all, I love reading speculations about the rarity of seeds, so let me tell you a story about these rare peppers from Oaxaca. These varieties are only grown in the Oaxaca area, and the only way to get seeds to plant here in the USA is to have someone physically visit the open markets there, pack up the dried pods, ship them Expressmail to the USA where the seeds are extracted, and the commercial seed company will then wash, dry and test for germination, and package for sale. These traditional pepper seed varieties are not normally available from seed companies in Mexico, and all of the seeds are saved each year by the farmers themselves. . These peppers are so rare currently within Oaxaca, less than an ounce of the De Agua pepper seed was only available in the market, and the market seller would only sell us a couple of kilos of the Chilhuacle Amarillo pods a few months ago. These dried peppers are so valuable in Mexico, that when they are imported into the USA, they are going for $25-300 per pound here, for peppers that are as easy to grow as bell peppers. Search any of the names of these dried peppers on Google, and add the words "pound" and "price", and you will see what I mean. These dried peppers might be the most valuable legal crop you could grow in the USA, and I am surprised that farmers in the USA have not planted 100s of acres to sell to the Mexican food product markets and the fancy restaurants in California and the Southwest. These rare peppers each make a distinctive mole sauce, and I hope that someone will start growing them here in the USA, so we can have a regular supply to enjoy.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 9:20PM
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kuvaszlvr

Thanks for the story (I assume this is Craig from Redwood- where I purchased all of my Oaxaca seeds, and they are coming up and looking good!), I'm definitely going to print this off and keep it for future reference.
Pam

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 11:13AM
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hattichranch(9)

I'm looking for Chile de Agua peppers myself. Does anyone know of a place to get them currently or have a few seeds they'd be willing to share ?

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 12:09AM
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curryj

Just posted this in another forum -
I grew this for the first time last year and I was thrilled with the results. These are very rare peppers that you can't easily find outside of Oaxaca in Mexico. The few onlinevendors of the dried pepper sell them for an exorbitant price (over $100 a pound).
They are not good fresh. Keep them on the plant until they are a deep brown and then dry them. I use a Nesco vegetable dryer. When thoroughly dry the are leathery and thin skinned.

I have used them for mole only, but have produced the best mole I've ever had outside of Mexico. They have a full, smooth flavor that can't be beat. I am sure that you can use them for other sauces and powder them for dry rubs, but this will not bring out their full potential. They are not good raw.

Both Rick Bayless of Frontera fame and the gringa doyenne of Mexican cooking Diana Kennedy have good recipes. The best that I have tried is the mole negro recipe in Kennedy's Oaxaca al Gusto - an English language cookbook, though it doesn't sound it.

I am sure that there are only a handful of people growing and drying these in the US. My wife teases me and says that I should become the tycoon of locally-sourced chilhuacle pepper when I retire from my job as middle school principal. Now if I could only find a way to grow huitlacoche, one of my other Mexican culinary obsession.

By the way, you can get the seeds and seedlings from Cross County Nurseries in southern New Jersey. You'll have a hard time finding a chile variety that they don't carry.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 12:23PM
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smokemaster_2007

E mail me about Chile De Agua seeds if you are still looking.

PS.
Peppermania used to sell almost all of the listed varieties.
I got a Chile De Agua plant from the nursery up the street.
Only one I haven't grown is Chiltepec.

Most of Redwoods seeds are from a grower in Maxwell Ca.

This post was edited by smokemaster_2007 on Mon, Sep 15, 14 at 16:00

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 12:39PM
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dremann

Oaxaca pepper seeds may be available again in the USA. A seed collector living in Mexico will be visiting the Oaxaca markets by October, 2014 and may be able to send some seeds of the unique peppers that are grown in Oaxaca to the USA.

If anyone in the USA is able to get ahold of seeds of any of these Oaxaca varieties, and grows and enjoys these peppers, you should ALWAYS COLLECT some seed for planting the next year.

The reason is because the supplies are so infrequent out of Mexico for these seeds, it is best to save some seeds yourself, instead of depending on seed companies to have them available for you on a regular basis.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2014 at 1:58PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I got seeds of Chilhacle Rojo frome a generous member here and I will grow a plant coming season. Sounds more like slim Poblano.
I am going to use it mostly in half life stage, as my growing condition is not favorable for ripening a 100 DTM.

Seysonn

    Bookmark   January 3, 2015 at 12:00PM
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tomt226

currj,
"the gringa doyenne of Mexican cooking Diana Kennedy"
Wonder if she's kin to the Kennedys that have run El Gallo in Austin Texas for the past 60 years? There's a whole passel of'em...

    Bookmark   January 4, 2015 at 7:44AM
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gnappi

There's a seller of Oaxaca peppers on Ebay, 8-10 for $10.00 shipped. If they still have the seeds inside it sounds like a good deal. You get to sample them before they grow :-)

    Bookmark   January 4, 2015 at 2:21PM
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