Clearly intriguing chili plants are rocoto peppers. The South American mountains are where the chili variety is said to have originated. In what is now Peru, the Incas had already bred it there. Less than 10,000 years ago, when agriculture first emerged, Native Americans began to grow chilies, potatoes, corn, and beans. The translation of Capsicum pubescens is “chili which gets hair.” The leaves have a fine down covering them. In the Andean heights, these hairs were originally used to catch the morning mist and absorb moisture. Rocoto plants irritate people with their numerous lovely purple flowers. If the pointed pods are cut in half, the Rocoto again astounds us with its black chili seeds.
In South America’s higher regions, rocotos are typical. It develops there like a tendril of a vine. Its quickly woody trunk has earned it the nickname “tree chili.” We frequently hear from Americans that breeding Rocotos would be extremely challenging. but not here in Germany with us. Typically, Capsicum pubescens plants require a distinct difference in temperature between daytime (15 °C) and nighttime (8 °C). The mountainous areas of Bolivia and Peru, where the Rocoto is native, have such a climate. In Germany and England, these temperatures are not out of the ordinary. Compared to other warm-loving chilli varieties, rocotos are better able to withstand cooler temperatures. However, Rocoto plants are also harmed by frost and temperatures below 0 °C..
The Rocoto Chilies
It’s unclear where the botanical name “capsicum” originated. However, it is assumed that the name was derived from “capsule” by the doctor Tournefort. If this is the case, he undoubtedly imagined the Rocoto’s cylindrical apple shape. Although unusual for chilies, the fruits are incredibly delicious. Due to the abundance of flesh, rocoto pods are much heavier than chilies of other species. Rocoto can be identified by its sliced black-brown chilli seeds. The pods’ flavor can be characterized as sour-sweet. Also, aside from different types of nuts, there are lots to know about types of peppers. Rocotos, like habaneros, can be extremely sharp, though their sharpness burns differently due to a different composition of capsaicin. At least three months after flowering, the Rocoto Manzano reaches maturity. If you want to enjoy a good harvest in the late summer, you should start growing rocotos early. You can harvest up to 40 of the exceptional chilies from plants that are one meter tall.
The Rocoto Varieties
Numerous breeders enjoy rocotos. The majority of varieties have bulky, heavy fruits. It’s important to pay close attention to a good location in the garden if you want to harvest lots of juicy chilies. It is able to lie in some shade. We mentioned the ideal pot size, which is roughly 10 liters, in another article. The hairy Capsicum pubescens varieties are appropriate for a 20 liter bucket. A climbing aid where you can tie the chili’s branches is equally important. At the east-south corner of the garden house, you can best satisfy the needs of the plant. There is just the right amount of wind movement. If you can find the right place, expect a lot of chili peppers.
How Hot is A Rocoto Pepper?
The Scoville Heat Index of rocoto peppers, which can reach up to 100,000, is well known for being quite high. When you compare their level of heat to that of the well-known jalapeño pepper, you’ll discover that the hottest rocoto is roughly 20 times hotter than the typical jalapeño. As a result, the hottest rocoto would be comparable to a mild habanero pepper. What a pleasant degree of heat. They have a heat level comparable to some Thai peppers, bird’s eye peppers, or chiltepin peppers.
Rocoto Pepper vs. Manzano Pepper
As was already mentioned, some regions refer to rocoto peppers as “manzano,” but they are not the same peppers. Although similar, rocoto peppers can be considerably hotter than Manzano peppers and are more prevalent in the Andes, reaching further south.
Rocoto Pepper’s Size and Appearance
The pepper plant can grow up to 15 feet tall in Bolivia, while the average size of a pepper plant in the United States is 2 feet. The length of the round or pear-shaped pods can range from 2 to 3 inches. The peppers come in a range of hues, from vivid red to yellow and orange, and resemble bell peppers in that they have thick walls and black seeds.
Cooking With Rocoto Peppers
Rocoto peppers are crucial to the cuisines of Bolivia and Peru. Due to the thickness of the pods, which makes it difficult for them to dry properly, these peppers are typically consumed fresh. There are also a lot of benefits in consuming peppers. They can also be found in hot sauces and spicy salsas, or when prepared as stuffed and baked dishes with meats and cheeses, they can be found as rocotos rellenos. I like using rocoto peppers for ceviche because they have a nice amount of heat.
Proper Care for Rocoto Pepper
American chili farmers report some difficulties growing rocotos. A few of them are accurate. On the other hand, the chili plant benefits from the summertime climate. Even in colder climates, Capsicum pubescens can thrive and even endure light frost. It prefers an open, partially shady area. A rich harvest is typically predicted by a spot in the garden shed’s eastern corner. The temperature fluctuations inside are frequently too small for the plant to feel truly at ease. A problem is also standing air. The hairy leaves in the mountains are responsible for gathering morning dew on the leaves. For the tree chili’s health, routine spraying is beneficial. It is worthwhile to grow this wonderful genus even if the germination rate is lower and you have to wait longer for the seeds to sprout.
Sowing of Rocoto Pepper
Rocoto plants expand quickly, but it takes them a while to produce flowers and fruits. You should begin growing this variety as soon as possible given the climate in Germany. It’s advised to get started as early as December or January. As opposed to the more common cream-colored seeds, the black-brown seeds have rougher, thicker seed coats. Therefore, a longer soaking period of about two days in chamomile tea is advised. Pre-swelling seeds are buried one centimeter deep in a growing medium. The Rocoto seeds should begin to germinate at 23 °C after 10 to 20 days. A substrate should have the seed buried one centimeter deep. Typically, their germination rate is lower than that of other Capsicum varieties.