Italian Wax Peppers

There are so many peppers that are native to different regions around the world. Many of these pepper varieties have been transplanted from cultures that immigrated to other lands hundreds of years ago.  The Italian Wax Pepper is one of those peppers.

This pepper is a native of Northern California and has been growing in the unique climate there since the gold rush era. The name is actually a misnomer.  The Italian Wax Pepper was originally brought to this region by Chilean immigrants.  They settled in a region of Northern California much like their home land with valleys and mountain range and the perfect climate for growing this pepper known then as the Chileno Pepper.

Around the same time Italian immigrants were settling the area as well. Many came from the northern regions of Italy with the same mountainous valleys and foothills as found in the Northern California area.  They too started farming.  Somewhere along histories trail, the Chileno Pepper became known as the Italian Wax Pepper.

The flavor of this pepper is unique. It has tastes reminiscent of citrus which is quite different than normal peppers. This pepper also has a different look than many of the peppers we normally think of when we think of hot peppers. These are normally 3-4 inches long and start as a light green color and then turn dark green and eventually red.  They grow with a unique bend to the pepper, not straight like a jalapeno or other spicy peppers.

Normally harvested when they are in the mild range in the dark green coloring, these Italian Wax Peppers are enjoyed in many different ways.  Favorite uses are salsas or relishes, pickled, and in ceviche.  When the fruit is allowed to mature, the pepper gets much spicier much like a serrano pepper (12,000 to 22,000 Scoville units).  You will also find that it is dried and ground for spice at this time too.

Next time you want to try something different, look for Italian Wax Peppers and give them a try.

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