Over the past decade there has (luckily) been resurgence in wanting heirloom varieties of long forgotten vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that before we had cultured gardens and rows of produce all plants grew naturally, in some overgrown forest, somewhere on Earth. Sometimes plants become more than just plants, they take on a meaning or a feeling. You have a cutting from your mother’s pothos that she was gifted when you were born. You plant a hydrangea in remembrance of a dear one lost. Plants can be more than just eye candy or a practical part of life; they can be an heirloom in every sense of the word. A plant passed down from your grandfather or great grandfather, remembered over generations, something to connect you to your past or to family that is far away.
This past weekend over the holiday break we took a long overdue trip down to visit my husband’s grandparents on their ranch in East Texas. One of our goals was to pick up a few wild pepper plants that grow on their property. These peppers have been handed down for three generations now. They are popular within the family and whenever we see or eat one it reminds us of our Texas roots and his grandparent’s ranch. It seems that no matter where we are or how far away, we always have some dried peppers at hand and hopefully, now, some actual plants!
We picked up three pepper plants called Chile Pequins. They grow wild and are native to areas such as Texas, as well as the southern states of the U.S. and are featured in Merriwether’s Guide to Edible Wild Plants of Texas and the Southwest. I transplanted them into some pots when we arrived home and am hoping we can transition these few plants into being indoor plants. We also picked up a bag of peppers, which I hope to extract some seeds from and attempt to grow them in the Tower Garden. We’ll see how that goes!
In the mean time we also picked up his family’s recipe for their own hot sauce concentrate. These pequins are H.O.T. They’re generally rated around 100,000 on the Scoville scale and are about 13-40 times hotter than a jalapeno. His family traditionally makes a ‘concentrate’ thick sauce, which they then add to meals, salsa, or anything else. A little tends to go a very long way!
Needless to say we are very excited to be able to attempt to carry on the tradition of these peppers and make sure they stay in the family for more generations to come. I encourage you to reach out to your loved ones and discover any botanical traditions that they might have. You never know what you may find!
While visiting his family we also took the time to admire their gardens and grab some extra seeds!