Heirloom varieties have rich histories. Fish peppers were well-loved long before Old Bay became a Maryland staple. The history of the fish pepper goes back to the 1800s when African-African communities used lime, burnt orange, and flame-red peppers with green and white splotched leaves to flavor seafood dishes. The fish pepper is said to have made its way to North America’s East Coast through the Caribbean.
Michael Twitty, a culinary historian, reveals in his cooking book “The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American History in the Old South” that he believes that Haitians, in particular, brought fish peppers to Baltimore, Maryland. Shortly after, the peppers popped up in gardens, kitchens, and produce markets.
We’ll walk you through more of what you should know about the history of fish peppers.
How Did Fish Peppers Get Their Name?
The relationship between these peppers and local seafood eateries gave this pepper its name. Before the pepper turns into vibrant colors, it starts as a white pod. Harvesting the peppers at this mild stage adds quite a kick to cream-based seafood sauces and soup.
How Hot is a Fish Pepper?
The fish pepper ranges from mild to spicy, depending on its maturation stage, with its color variations going from milky white or creamy yellow, transitioning into white and green stripes, turning green, and going from brown to orange to red.
The fish pepper has a similar hotness level to a Serrano pepper, which is its derivation. Fish peppers are slightly hotter than jalapenos, with their heat levels ranging from 2,000 to 8,000 SHU. According to Authority Health, the Scoville Scale ranks the heat units of a fish pepper from 5,000-30,000 SHU, making it a medium to moderately hot pepper.
The Scoville Scale uses these heat unit ranges to determine a pepper’s spiciness level:
- Mild (100 to 2,500 SHU)
- Medium (2,500 to 30,000)
- Hot (30,000 to 10,000)
- Extra Hot (100,000 to 30,000)
How Does a Fish Pepper Taste?
Fish peppers taste like serrano and cayenne pepper. The difference between a serrano pepper and a fish pepper is that a fish pepper isn’t as bitter. When at its earliest stage, this pepper is at its creamiest.
It’s a fruity and tangy pepper with a fresh and bright taste. However, when it reaches its final maturation stage, it packs a bold, hot flavor with a crunchy texture.
Ways to Use These Peppers
In its early stages, the fish pepper adds spice to cream-based seafood sauces while remaining visually undetectable. You can also use this potent pepper in hot sauces and salsas and have even made pickled fish peppers, or pair it with white fish peppers in stews, pasta dishes, or soups. You should also know that peppers are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, B, and E, potassium, and calcium.
Contact Baywater Farms today to learn more about how to get your hands on these delicious Maryland fish peppers.
BAYWATER FARMS HAS THE RIGHT PRODUCE FOR YOU
Baywater Farms is a family-owned and operated farm servicing Baltimore, Washington D.C., Maryland, Delaware beaches, and the Eastern Shore. We are capable of meeting the demands of your produce distributor, restaurant produce supplier, CSA produce supplier, or wholesale produce supplier while maintaining the integrity and character of a small farm. When you work with Baywater Farms, you work with an experienced, ethical, and local farm dedicated to providing the highest-quality heirloom produce.