Adding Some Spice To Your Life
Growing Strong Farm uses organic techniques to grow some of Hawai’i’s difficult crops.
What’s growing now: Apple bananas, Anaheim peppers, bell peppers, beets, carrots, cucumber, green beans, kale, lettuce, tomatoes, watermelon.
Anaheim peppers are considered mild, and their heat is comparable to jalapenos. Heat levels vary because dry, hot weather produces hotter chilies. The green chili is young and therefore hotter than a ripe red one. Growing Strong Farm is the only farm I know of that’s growing these babies on Kaua’i.
Season: Anaheim peppers can be grown year-round on Kaua’i and take about 90 days from seed to table.
What to look for:
Choose bright-green, glossy peppers that are firm with a medium to thick flesh. Avoid soft spots. Peppers are 6 to 8 inches long, and taper to a point from narrow shoulders.
Refrigerate unwashed in a plastic bag for up to five days. Roasted chilies left in their skin can be frozen and stored in plastic bags for up to six months.
The seeds and veins are where chilies carry their heat, so remove those for a milder flavor. Wear gloves when chopping chilies because capsaicin, the chemical responsible for heat, can produce a strong burning sensation. Capsaicin is barely soluble in water, but it does dissolve in milk fat or alcohol. This is why many hot dishes are served with a cold beer or dairy.
Anaheims are commonly used in salsas, and can be roasted and stuffed to make rellenos. Dried red Anaheims also are used for making decorative wreaths or long strings, known as ristras. I like to eat them still warm from roasting wrapped in a corn tortilla with a little goat cheese.
All peppers are high in vitamins A, C, K, lutein and beta-carotene. Capsaicin is used in topical ointments to relieve arthritis, backaches, strains and muscle pains. Capsaicin creams are used to reduce itching and inflammation from psoriasis.
Growing Strong Farm’s produce can be found at:
Farmers Market: Kapa’a Wednesdays at 3 p.m. Restaurants: BarAcuda, Kaua’i Grill, Postcards Cafe, The Tavern, Lilikoi Lunch Wagon, Moloa’a Fruit Stand, Coconut Cup, Oasis on the Beach, Red Salt, 22 North, Merriman’s, Roy’s, Josselin’s and local produce distributor Cultivate Kaua’i. Call 634-3768.
QUICK CHILI VERDE
I’m originally from Colorado, and right now the farmers markets are bursting with chili peppers.
Hundreds of fresh chilies in rotating stainless steel drums crackle over flames and fill the air with their smoky-sweet perfume. To roast chilies at home, put them in a 350-degree oven and turn until all sides are charred. Cool in a sealed plastic or paper bag; the trapped steam makes them easier to peel.
* 6 Anaheim peppers, roasted, peeled and diced
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 onion, chopped
* 4 cups low-salt chicken broth
* 2 tablespoons cornstarch
* salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Heat olive oil in a medium-sized pot on medium heat. Add onion and sauté until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and green chilies. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into four bowls.
You can enjoy chili verde with a buttered, warm flour tortilla or spoon it over steamed rice and kalua pig.
Makes four servings.