James H. Schutte
CAPSICUM annuum 'Aji Colorado'( Longum Group)
Plant Common Name
Aji Colorado Chile, Hot Pepper
A baccatum-type chili pepper, 'Aji Colorado' produces quantities of slender, red, fiery-hot fruits on large bushy plants. It derives from Capsicum baccatum var. pendulum, a short-lived perennial that has long been cultivated in uplands of western South America.
The flat-topped, waist-high plants bear thin, oval, medium-green leaves on stiff, spreading stems. Star-shaped, creamy-white flowers with green centers appear in warm weather, followed by pendent, narrowly conical, glossy 4-inch (10-cm) fruits with thin, pungently flavored, bright red flesh. The hollow, chambered interior is divided by spongy ribbing that holds many small, flattened, rounded seeds. Most of the heat comes from the pithy ribs, inner lining and seeds of the pepper, so keep this in mind when cooking with them.
Full sun, ample spacing, and fertile well-drained soil are required for this pepper variety to grow and produce well. It is relatively tolerant of cool, wet conditions, compared to Capsicum annuum varieties. Harvest of 'Aji Colorado' peppers begins about 90 days after seedlings are planted. The fruits can be sliced up fresh into sauces, stews, and relishes, or dried for later use. Harvest continues until hard frost, or into winter in frost-free conditions. Vascular wilts and fungal diseases can be a problem in subpar conditions, although most baccatum peppers exhibit comparatively high virus-resistance.
Pinch off early flower buds to encourage stronger branching and roots. Heavily fruiting plants may break apart under the weight if not staked for support. Harvest ripe fruit daily to encourage new blossoms to form. Wear gloves and safety glasses when slicing hot peppers.
Hot peppers get their heat from the compound capsaicin – the higher its concentration, the hotter the pepper. Capsaicin concentration is measured and expressed in Scoville units. The Scoville rating of 'Aji Colorado' is 30,000, as hot as a "mild" tabasco chili. For more information about the Scoville Scale see http://www.chilliworld.com/FactFile/Scoville_Scale.asp