Favorite Crop Varieties: Hot Pepper, Dried Beans and Black Tomato

MOTHER staff members' share their favorite crop varieties, including Sinahuisa hot pepper, True Cranberry dried bean, Southern Nights black tomato, and Sugar Loaf winter squash.

| December 2002/January 2003

MOTHER staffers share their favorite crop varieties, including hot pepper, dried bean and tomato varieties.

Sinahuisa Hot Pepper Mango Salsa

Spicy Mango Salsa Recipe

Fabulous flavor is one of the best reasons to grow your own food, yet many of the best varieties are becoming hard to find. Our modern food system often values shelf life, shipping qualities, yield and uniformity more than taste and tenderness. As a result, tough new hybrids are displacing full-flavored varieties. More and more people are unaware of just how great vegetables can taste. Too many supermarket offerings — tomatoes, strawberries and green beans come to mind — are now so tough and tasteless they're often hardly worth eating.

This new Cream of the Crops series highlights outstanding, great-tasting varieties recommended by expert gardeners. To kick things off, we asked MOTHER'S green-thumbed editors and contributors to nominate their favorite crop varieties. Here are four of them:

Sinahuisa Hot Pepper

Similar in size and shape to serrano chiles, 'Sinahuisa' is a thick-fleshed, juicy pepper with moderate heat that lets its underlying flavor come through. Picked green, 'Sinahuisa' has a sweet, earthy flavor with a delayed pungency; it's more like a bell pepper with an attitude than a chile. Eaten raw, the basic pepper taste dominates until the heat comes through as an afterthought. Like other hot peppers, much of the heat is in the ribs and seeds. Picked ripe, the heat comes through much stronger, scoring between 10,000 and 20,000 Scoville Heat Units (a measurement for peppers' heat), as compared to jalapeno s 2,500 to 10,000 SHUs.

A prolific, quick-maturing pepper that lends itself to container gardening, this pepper's numerous, 3/4-inch-thick and 1 1/2- to 2-inches-long, waxy green and bright red fruits resemble Christmas ornaments. Useful wherever a moderate chile is needed, 'Sinahuisa' is especially good pickled. The green peppers make a fruity hot sauce, while the ripe ones make a superlative red sauce similar to Tabasco. `Sinahuisa' is my favored variety for fresh salsa, particularly fruit salsa.

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