Peppers or UFOs?

Everyone’s been wondering about the odd shaped peppers growing at the Farm. Que calls them mutants and Skip says they’re Martian peppers. Not only do they look like flying saucers but they’re growing on plants that are as big (and as wide!) as azaleas.  The farmers – Ryan, Q and Raheem aren’t quite sure how they got there.

Trying to figure it out, I typed in “odd shaped peppers” at a google search. Looking through the images our mystery pepper was indeed there!  Turns out it’s called Chapeau de Frade which means nothing in French or more correctly Chapeu de Frade which means “the friar’s hat” in Portuguese. Not surprisingly it’s a native of Brazil.

One of the online seed catalogs says: “This may be one of the most unusual peppers you can grow. Each 3-4 foot plant  sets dozens of these UFO-shaped fruits at a time. They are 2-3 inches in diameter and turn from lime green to yellow to red orange. The flesh is mild and sweet. The heat is in and around the seeds.” And another mentioned, “The plants produce 30 to 50 extremely weird, 3 or 4 flat winged, wrinkled, almost flying saucer like pods. The flesh of each pod is thin athough crisp to taste and they mature from green to red in approximately 90-100 days.” The Latin name is Capsicum baccatum var. pendulum.

It looks like there are two varieties – one mild and one pretty hot.  We must have the mild one because even the flesh around the seeds is only very slightly tangy. We’ve been crunching on them ourselves and offering them at our Neighborhood Foods  stand at the Rittenhouse Market where everyone is loving the shape and the taste.  When (and if) they turn red will they have some heat?

Ryan says he’ll save some seed for next year as they’re so unusual.  They seem to be extremely drought tolerant and reportedly set fruit in the hottest of weather – just the kind of plant we need if next summer is as hot as this one!

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