The origins of chilli
Chili is a plant believed to have originated in the mountains between Brazil and Bolivia, exported thanks to the birds and the native population that brought the seeds out of their areas of origin. Subsequently the hot pepper was a plant used and cultivated since 5500 BC in Mexico and in Peru, where it was the only spice that was used for food preparation. It was imported into Spain, by Christopher Columbus in 1493, as an ornamental plant and later used as a spice. Between 1500 and 1600 Spanish and Portuguese expeditions brought chili plants also to Africa and Asia and thanks to its ability to acclimatise easily favored their spread, becoming the most widespread and used spice, having contained costs for cultivation.
History of chilli
The chili pepper (capsicum sp.) Is part of the family of the Solanaceae, the same to which the tomato, aubergine, potato and tobacco belong. The first traces of food consumption of this spice by man were found in Perщ and date back to around 8500 years ago, but its cultivation spread later throughout Latin America. In Europe it came thanks to Christopher Columbus and immediately had a great success, mainly due to the ease of cultivation also in our continent (unlike other spices). It was therefore nicknamed "pepper of the poor" from which "peperone" and also "peperoncino".
The first country in which it became popular was Spain, but soon after it arrived in Southern Italy, which at the time was part of the extensive Iberian domains. With us it was immediately appreciated (unlike eggplant and tomato, considered poisonous) for its low cost and for the antiseptic and preservative virtues.
This solanacea spread even very much in other geographical areas, particularly in Southeast Asia, where it is still massively cultivated and has become part of many traditional dishes. Furthermore, research and selection have been unleashed to get fruits of various shapes and sizes and, above all, with different degrees of spiciness and specific aftertaste.
The chili plant is a short-lived perennial shrub. The plants have a variable shape depending on the species, they can be bushy with green leaves and white flowers, or they can have the shape of a shrub of different sizes. Resistance to atmospheric conditions depends on the type, in fact there are varieties that resist even sub-zero temperatures for short periods or some that do not resist excessive insolation. The color of the flowers varies for each species between white and purple. The main domestic crops are: the Capsicum annuum which includes the sweet peppers, the common chilli pepper, that of Cayenna and the Jalapeno; the Capsicum chinense, including the Hahanero; the Capsicum frutescens which includes the Tabasco; Capsicum pubescens which includes rocoto.
In Italy we boast some typical products such as the spicy Calabrian round (excellent to fill), the super-spicy Calabrian diavolicchio and the spicy orange of Stromboli.
Among the well-known international varieties are the Cayenna, the Jalapeno, the Tabasco and the Habanero.
Lately it is spreading but a real passion for spicy cultivars and it is now very easy to find them on the market even in common nurseries. Some of the most coveted are: Jamaican Scotch Bonnet, Naga Morich, Habananero Chocolate, Habanero Orange, Trinidad Scorpion chocolate, Dorset Naga, Aji, Habanero Red Savina.
THE CHILI IN SHORT
Type of plant
Perennial cultivated as an annual, herbaceous
|Height width||Up to 80 cm / up to 45 cm|
|Exposure||Sun, half shade to the south|
|Distance three rows on the row||50 cm, 40 cm|
|Temperature / days for germination||16 ° C / 8-10 days|
THE CHILLI CALENDAR
|transplant||The end of March||May June|
|collection||From June to the end of October||From July to October|