Every year for the last five years, I’ve had some voluntary chile piquíns pop up in my backyard. These little peppers are native to the Southwest and behave well in your garden.

Chilie Piquin Bush

These tiny peppers pack a big punch and can really heat up whatever you’re trying to season, without much effort. Pepper hotness is measured by the Schofield scale, developed by Dr. Wilbur Scofield in 1912. A regular jalapeno pepper rates between 2500 - 5,000 on the scale, the chili piquin, between 50 and 70,000! I usually pick, dry and then grind them up into a powder in my pestle. If I have any left over I usually take into my friend Pete Schroeder, who loves spicy peppers and loves to cook. This last batch I took him ended up in a bottle of balsamic vinaigrette that he uses to season things like cabbage. So that’s what I did, I stopped by H-E-B, picked up a resealable bottle of balsamic vinaigrette and dumped a bunch of my peppers inside.

After a few weeks of sitting around trading flavors, I poured some of my concoction in a bowl with some fresh cucumbers and let them soak for about 15 minutes. The flavor was fantastic! Not as much heat was transferred, but much of the flavor was. Then I tried it as a salad dressing; it was wonderful!

There is a deep satisfaction of growing something, then sharing it. My garden will be larger next year!