We are primarily chilli growers, so our favourite chillies are ones which grow well in our climate. We always get asked which chillies we recommend. However this list is subject to change as we grow new varieties every year.
On the sweet peppers, we have found best results with Large Red Cherry and Sweet Banana. Both of these peppers seem to be tolerant to attacks from pests. They are also very prolific. Another favourite is Yellow Wax which is similar to Hungarian Hot wax, but with no heat.
(Large Red Cherry)
(Hungarian Yellow Wax)
On the mild varieties, our favourites are Numex Centennial which is a compact colourful variety. It can be a little erratic to germinate but once it does, it is a very pretty plant which is fine for both culinary and ornamental uses. We also like Bolivian Rainbow – another colourful and very unusual variety. The pods resemble mushrooms as they change colour from a pale yellow to purple.
Other prolific mild types are the humble Jalapeno, Bulgarian Carrot (very prolific/fruity flavour), Fresno and Cherry Bomb. All of which grow really well in the UK climate (in polytunnel/greenhouses – don't put them outside. It is just too wet)
On the medium and hot varieties, our favourites are the Cayenne types such as Ring of Fire, Cayenne Red. These are extremely prolific and grow really well, producing thick bushes with masses of pods. Ring of Fire chillies are used in many of our sauces. They are also easy to dry and brilliant for smoking. They are also one of the most resilient varieties for pests and produce vast numbers of finger length green pods which mature to red. As for flavour, they have a superb heat with just the right balance.
If you want a stunning medium variety which is good to eat, you could consider Fairy Lights. This is a brilliant ornamental with multicoloured pods. In our opinion, this is a much better variety than the ever popular Twilight which although looks great, isn't the best for culinary use.
We also love the Apache chilli. Really easy to grow, produces massive numbers of pods and very hardy. A perfect window sill plant and great for beginners.
Also in the hot varieties, Aji Lemon is a cracker. It produces bright yellow pods with a citrus flavour. It is also quite unusual but grows well in an unheated polytunnel.
Three other hot varieties we love include Superchilli (a great all rounder and one of the earliest varieties to pod), Jamaican Yellow (which has a hint of pineapple but will blow your mind) and Jamaican Red (which looks like a large Scotch Bonnet and is very fiery). The latter two we have grown for the first time in 2011. Both of which will be grown in more numbers next season as they have done really well.
On the superhots, our favourite is the Dorset Naga. Developed in Dorset from a Bangladesh strain of chilli. It is unofficially the hottest chilli ever recorded. It grows really well and extremely prolific. The pods grow mostly at the bottoms of the plants so it is worthwhile to restrain the foliage above, so that the pods can get some light.
The Dorset Naga is now used in most of our hot sauces including Dartmoor Dynamite and the Beast of Dartmoor. Devils Tor, a limited edition mango sauce uses 33% Fresh Dorset Nagas.
We also love the Habanero Fatalli. (A superhot yellow variety from Africa) which although wasn't popular back in 2009 when we first grew it, is exceedingly popular nowadays. We also like the Habanero Paper Lantern (magnificent lantern shaped pods), the Habanero Chocolate and the extreme prolific Habanero Orange.
(Habanero Fatali) (Habanero Chocolate)
(Habanero Paper Lantern)
If we had to narrow it down to just one chilli per category, this would be really tough but here goes :
Sweet Pepper – Red Cherry
Mild Chilli – Bulgarian Carrot
Medium – Fairy Lights
Hot – Ring of Fire (The Superchilli is a very close second)
Very Hot – Jamaican Red
Extreme – Dorset Naga
Overall........Phil's favourite chilli is the Ring of Fire. Kay's favourite... Fairy Lights. Both are medium / hot varieties. Extremely prolific, easy to grow.... say no more!!
(Ring of Fire)