The Chilli Guru™

Capsicum baccatum

Capsicum baccatum

These chillies originate in Peru, where they are collectively known as Ajis. The wild species has erect chillies; all the cultivated baccatums are technically Capsicum baccatum var. pendulum and have pendant fruit. Closely related species include Capsicum praetermissum which is regarded as Capsicum baccatum var. praetermissum by some authorities.

The distinctive flowers of C. baccatum cultivars make them easy to recognise. Interspecific hybrids exhibit the same markings, and the baccatum fruit shape seems to be equally dominant as does the fairly open plant habit. These hybrids often have rich complex flavours combining the tastes of both parents.

Baccatums are generally easy to grow, but do tend to take up quite a lot of space due to their open growth habit. They compensate for this by fruiting fairly early in the season, being very productive, and having rich fruity flavours, frequently with citrus overtones. Most baccatums have no more than medium pungency, are thin fleshed and dry well; these make excellent chilli powder.

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