Wax Pepper – Capsicum annuum

Long and tapering, the Hungarian Wax Pepper is a creamy yellow color with a waxy translucent finish.  It has a thin skin and a thick flesh.  It matures to a striking red-orange to red color. The pods can grow to 5 to 8 inches. This pod type probably has the widest heat range of any chillie. It requires a taste test in order to judge its piquancy as it can vary from warm to moderately hot.  Fully ripe, the Scoville Heat Units can vary from 100 to 15,000.  The Wax type varies in size, appearance, and pungency.
Wax peppers cook well and often will add just the right amount of heat to a dish so that it doesn’t over power other flavors.  You can use them fresh both at the yellow or red stages.  They can be stored in the fridge wrapped in paper towel, a brown bag, or zip-locked in plastic.
When drying the mature red pods make sure there are no soft spots, string them by their stems and hang them in a dim dry place with good air circulation. Wax peppers can be chopped and frozen to add them later to cooked sauces such as spaghetti.
They are tasty in salsas or salads or raw stuffed with cream cheese.  Wax chiles are good substitutes for jalapeños.
Hungarian wax peppers are good in sandwiches, raw relish platters, and dips. They can be filled with cheese or a meat mixture and then sautéed. They add a colorful and piquant flavor to bean and grain dishes.  They are delicious fried and good with scrambled eggs and potatoes.  Thin slivers can be tossed into hot or chilled puree soup like gazpacho. They are delicious when added to chutneys and pepper jelly.  Most people simply pickle them. Folklore has it that Hungarians believe a woman’s passion is measured by her capability to eat fiery hot food.

Written by David Hamilton from the Elizabeths Herb Nursery in Bathurst. South Africa

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