Names of edible plants can be particularly confusing at times and none more so than these chillies. Very similar in shape and taste profile to the chillies known as Bishops Hat/Cap/Crown elsewhere in the world these chillies are sold as “Scotch Bonnet” in Australia. Well maybe not even the whole of Australia but by the seed company I bought seeds from a few years ago. Now this wouldn’t be particularly confusing except that the chillies that are known as Scotch Bonnet in the UK and probably elsewhere are quite different. My chillies are pictured below:
What are known as Scotch Bonnet in the UK are Capsicum Chinense (according to The Chileman), which is the same species Habaneros belong to. They are generally incredibly hot ferocious things (when I lived in the UK I once had a unfortunate experience when preparing a large volume of Scotch Bonnets without wearing gloves – OUCH). My “Scotch Bonnets” on the other hand are much more placid creatures with a mild (and occasionally medium) heat. Complicating the issue of identification is that fact that these seeds were sold as Capsicum annum whereas Bishops Hats/Caps/Crowns are Capsicum Baccatum. To me the flowers look more like Baccatum – they have the yellow spots on the flowers that generally distinguishes the species.
So what are they? I think they are Capsicum Baccatum that were missold and so from now on I will refer to them as Bishops Caps. I did a quick trawl of the seed sites in Australia and a couple were selling seeds with very similar looking fruit to mine as ‘Scotch Bonnet Capsicum Annum’. As a result my feeling is that if you are looking for a really hot chilli you are better off getting some Capsicum Chinense seeds but if you are looking for a milder chilli then these are great. Note: Some people believe that Capsicum Chinense should be classified as Capsicum Annum so Chinense is occasionally sold as Annum. Confusing or what? And I would point out at this point that whilst I have spent a bit of time researching this my reading is in no way comprehensive so I might be wrong on any or all of the above points.
Regardless of what they are called I use most of my crop to make Sambal. They are the perfect heat for Sambal. Not so hot that you have to use the sambal really sparingly, but not so mild that you have to use half the jar just to get a bit of heat.
I tend to grow my Chillies generally and Bishops Cap, in particular, in pots. This is because chillies overwinter pretty well in Melbourne’s climate and I find it easier to keep perennial plants out of my beds. I have two Bishops Cap plants about to go into their fourth winter. I find this particular chilli pretty cold tolerant and it generally produces crops well into June. The plants then become dormant until the following Spring. In some colder years they have lost all their leaves during their dormancy but in milder years the leaves stay on the plant (albeit looking a bit sick and yellow).
I find that the leaves regrow in mid Spring with fruits forming in late summer. Fruits start out light green ripening to red over a period of weeks.
I pick all my crop red as I prefer the flavour. I have stuffed these peppers with cheese and baked them and really enjoyed them. They were hot but sweet and not so hot as to be unpalatable.
If you live in Australia (except Tasmania and Western Australia – I don’t know if I’m allowed to send seed there, many of the seed companies dont) and would like some seed then I should have some in a few weeks. Let me know in the comments or email me with your address at Liz@suburbantomato.com.
I have created a page (above, just below the header) with an Index of all the Spotlights to date. I will add links to any new posts below and in next weeks post as well as ensuring they appear in the Index. Let me know if you write one by leaving a comment.
New Spotlights last week were:
Tronchuda Beira (Portuguese Cabbage/Kale) – From Seed to Table
Australian Butter – Climbing Beans – My Little Garden Project
And for this week:
Baby Blue Jade Corn – Kebun Malay-Kadazan Girls
Giant Winter Spinach – Our Happy Acres
Prosperosa Eggplant – Beks Backyard