Pepper, Fish

Dancing Bear Farm

$ 4.50


Capsicum annum (80 days)  

This unique variety made its way to shellfish cookery houses around Chesapeake Bay in the 19th century via African-American seed stewards.  Plants grow to 24” tall and have lovely variegated green and white foliage and immature fruits.  Fruits ripen from green/white to orange brown then red.  Has a wide range of heat from jalapeno level to cayenne.  SHU = 5000 -30,000.

Packet (2/5 g ≈ 60 seeds)

Bulk (1 g ≈ 170 seeds)

From William Woys Weaver's description in Mother Earth News:

"The origins of the Fish Pepper are obscure. The Aztecs had a variety of pepper called White Fish Chili described in the 1569 Florentine Codex of Spanish friar Bernardino de Sahaguin (1963, 68). A pepper with this name existed in the early nineteenth century, but it is not certain that it was the one under discussion. All that has been ascertained thus far is that the Fish Pepper shown in color plate 65 was an African-American heirloom that began as a sport or mutation of a common serrano pepper sometime during the 1870s. Over time it became a fixed variety, but it was never sold commercially.

Seed was acquired by my grandfather from Horace Pippin, Fish Pepperwho said that the variety originated near Baltimore. By 1900, throughout the region stretching from Washington to Philadelphia, Fish Peppers were raised almost exclusively in the black community for use in oyster and crab houses, and especially for dishes using terrapin. It was one of those “secret” ingredients favored by cooks and caterers to spike a recipe with invisible heat, for the Fish Pepper was used primarily when it was white, and it could be dried to retain that color. This feature was a culinary plus in the days when cream sauces reigned supreme."

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