WHAT ARE SHISHITO PEPPERS?
Shishito peppers, are a Japanese variety of heirloom peppers from the species Capsicum annuum. They are small, wrinkly looking peppers and are usually green in color. You can buy them at most local grocery stores now, and the'll usually come in a 1lb bag. Eaten raw, these peppers are crisp and sweet, but once you cook them, a slight spice and smokiness comes out, and that's why people love them so much. Not to be confused with Padron peppers, which are not as wrinkles and are spicier than the shishito pepper plant.
WHAT DO SHISHITO PEPPERS TASTE LIKE?
The shishito pepper is not hot in itself (you'll get a very mild hot), but you will find that 1 in 10 is actually very hot! On the Scoville scale, shishito peppers range from 50-200, while a jalapeno pepper ranges from 2500-4000, in comparison. Like we mentioned above, eaten raw, they're crispy, and a little sweet, much like a regular bell pepper. But, once cooked, they have a mild heat and smokiness, and taste like a roasted red bell pepper, but much more flavorful. So if you love grilled or roasted peppers, you're going to love the full and smoky flavor of a grilled shishito pepper!
These plants are surprisingly easy to grow and they're also very abundant. You can grow shishito peppers in raised beds, in pots, or directly in the soil. They usually produce a big amount of fruit, and you can actually leave them on the plant until they turn orange and then red, although most people harvest them while green.
- Purchase shishito pepper seeds from a reputable nursery, or harvest your own seeds from a store bought shishito pepper.
- Start seeds indoors about 8 weeks before the last frost. Keep the seeds in a warm place, such as the top of your refrigerator – this will help them germinate faster.
- Once seedlings have sprouted, move them to a sunny spot. Grow lights are ideal, but if you don't have those, you can certainly set them on a south facing windowsill, or wherever you get the most sun.
- Occasionally spray your seedlings with water. The soil should be moist, but never water logged. This will all depend on the climate in your home and how much light your plants are receiving.
- In the last week before planting outdoors, harden your plants. Set them outside for just a few hours a day, so they can acclimatize to their new environment.
- This process is called hardening off, which gives the plants a smooth and easy transition to the outdoor world.
- After a week of hardening, you can go ahead and plant your shishito pepper plant in the soil.
- You can put them in pots, raised beds, or directly into the ground. Choose a spot where they'll receive at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day.
- Use an organic fertilizer every 4-6 weeks to encourage growth.
- Harvest shishito peppers when they are bright green in color about and 3-4 inches long.
HOW TO HARVEST SHISHITO PEPPER PLANTS
- Shishito peppers are usually harvested when they're young. This means they'll be green and shiny, but you can also leave them on the plant until they turn red.
- We encourage you to experiment: pick a few off the plant while they're green, and leave the rest on. Then, pick a few off as they change color and see which flavor profile you like best!
- Once harvested, they'll keep for a few days in the counter or a week or two in the fridge.
- You can eat them raw, roast them, grill them, and cook them in the pan stir-fry style – the possibilities are endless!
WHAT TO DO WITH SHISHITO PEPPERS?
If you're not familiar with shishito peppers, they're a fun little pepper that's all the rage right now, and if you haven't yet tried them, you definitely should! As we mentioned above, they have a delicious crisp, smokey, and mild to hot taste, that's a hit with everyone. Better yet, they're super easy to cook and you can do so in a variety of different ways!
- Blistered shishito peppers – get your shishito peppers (washed first) into a hot cast iron skillet with some olive oil and cook until blistered. Easy, fast, and oh-so yummy!
- Roasted shishito peppers – roast these babies in the oven until they get nice and soft, like a roasted bell pepper. About 20 minutes at 400F should do it, but keep an eye on them!
- Stir-fried – Add these peppers to your favorite stir-fry recipe. They add an amazing taste that you'll be hooked on!
- Pickle them – If you like pickling and preserving, these peppers are great for that! You can pickle them raw or roast them first.
- Eat them raw – yes, you can definitely eat raw shishito peppers – they're sweet, crunchy, and healthy for you!