CAPSICUM annuum 'Serrano'( Longum Group)
Plant Common Name
Hot Chili Pepper, Serrano Pepper
Renowned for its high pungency, this chili pepper from uplands of Mexico adds heat to salsas, stews, and other Mexican dishes. Like many hot peppers, it is a member of the Longum group, which encompasses poblanos, jalapenos, cayenne peppers and various other chilis. These annual vegetables descend from varieties that were grown and selected by Native Americans for thousands of years.
The bushy, knee- to waist-high plants bear thin, oval, dark green leaves on stiff brittle stems. Inconspicuous white flowers appear in warm weather, followed by pendent, narrowly conical to cylindrical, 3-inch (8-cm) fruits with thick, pungently flavored, dark green flesh that ripens to red. The hollow, chambered interior is divided by spongy ribbing that holds many small, flattened, rounded seeds, which are hotter than the fruit's flesh. Fruits may be harvested green or allowed to mature to full color and pungency.
Full sun, warmth, ample spacing, and fertile well-drained soil are required for this pepper variety to grow and produce well. Harvest of green 'Serrano' peppers begins about 80 days after seedlings are planted, with fruits ripening to red about 15 days later. The fruits are do not dry well and are best used fresh. Harvest continues until hard frost, or into winter in frost-free conditions. Vascular wilts and fungal diseases can be a problem in subpar conditions.
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 'Serrano' is 6000 to 23,000 units. For more information about the Scoville Scale see http://www.chilliworld.com/FactFile/Scoville_Scale.asp