Some people love to eat spicy meals or dishes. When they cook food for themselves or their families, they follow spicy recipes (and sometimes even elevate them) or use ingredients that will heat up a dish.
If you’re looking to grow a spice or a vegetable in your home garden, consider planting serrano peppers. This flavorful chili pepper will surely add a lot of fire to your dishes and satisfy your taste buds if you’re a fan of spicy foods.
What Are Serrano Peppers?
This serrano pepper is essentially the tinier version of the jalapeño pepper. This pepper is incredibly spicy. When you look at it on the chili heat scale, serrano peppers have a Scoville rating of 10,000 to 23,000 units. They are a fantastic addition to relishes, sauces, salsas or any recipe that could benefit from a spicy kick.
On top of the delicious flavor and intense heat of the serrano pepper, this particular pepper is healthy. It’s high in dietary fiber, minerals and vitamins. What’s more, it’s low in fat, which is perfect if you’re trying to lose weight.
Serrano peppers contain about 3.7 grams of dietary fiber per 100-gram serving. Dietary fiber helps slow the rate of the body’s absorption of sugar and lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. You also get good amounts of magnesium, iron, vitamin B6, vitamin C and vitamin A when you add serrano peppers to your diet. As for fat and calorie content, this pepper has only 34 calories and 0.4 grams of fat.
About the Serrano Pepper Plant
If you’re looking to grow serrano pepper in your backyard, you’ll need to learn the basics about this incredible plant.
Serrano pepper plants can grow up to five feet tall, though tinier plants are more common. They’re highly productive plants. This means that a single plant can hold up to 50 pepper pods at a time.
Tips for Growing Serrano Peppers
Let’s first establish the growing conditions for the serrano pepper. This pepper enjoys sunny garden areas with excellent drainage, as well as loamy, deep and rich soil.
Serrano peppers like lots of organic matter in the soil. Just make sure that the soil doesn’t contain too much nitrogen. Excess nitrogen can make the serrano pepper plant grow too quickly, making it less productive and more prone to diseases and pests.
When planting serrano peppers, you can purchase plants from a nursery or grow them from seed. Ideally, you should buy the seed from a trusted nursery or a small farm vendor. When you purchase serrano peppers from big box stores, diseases can spread more quickly due to the large numbers grown in industrial greenhouses.
Remember to plant your serrano peppers 12 to 24 inches apart. If you choose to grow them in containers, make sure the pots are at least one gallon in size to accommodate the growth of the plant.
Serrano Pepper Plant Care
Serrano peppers are heavy feeders, so make sure that you use a balanced vegetable fertilizer for your soil. Given how these chili peppers like to feed voraciously, you’ll need to reapply fertilizer once a month. Water the soil properly after each feeding.
Throughout the growing season of the serrano pepper plant, make sure you water it frequently. Do deep watering once every three or four days. During extremely hot days, make sure you check the soil often. You’ll notice that the top layer of the soil will often be dry. If the soil is moist about 1.5 inches down, however, hold off on another deep watering.
Harvesting Serrano Peppers
You can usually harvest serrano peppers within three months of planting. You have the option to pick your peppers early in the growing period when they’re immature and purple or green. The flavor will improve as they mature.
The perfect time for harvesting is when the serrano peppers are orange, yellow or red — or when they’re full-sized but still green in color.
When harvesting, make sure to use proper hand pruning techniques to remove the pepper from the stem. Simply yanking them off can hurt the plant and could stop it from producing another round of serrano peppers.
What Can You Cook with Serrano Peppers?
There are dozens of serrano pepper recipes you can try.
Here are a few dishes to whip up in your kitchen:
If you have a persimmon tree in your backyard, use persimmon and serrano pepper to make a delicious salsa. Simply mix persimmons, serrano chili pepper, onion, ginger, lime juice, mint and basil in a small bowl. Then, season the mixture with salt and pepper.
Want a spicier guac for your chips? Combine seeded serrano pepper, seeded jalapeño pepper, chipotle pepper, onion, cilantro, salt, pepper and garlic in a large bowl. Mash them all together with a fork. Then, stir in the tomatoes and avocados.
Melon with Serrano-Mint Syrup
This recipe is unique, as the sweetness of the syrup and salad offers a nice contrast to the spiciness of the serrano pepper.
Using a small saucepan, bring serrano pepper, honey, lemon juice, water and sugar to boil for three to five minutes or until slightly thickened. Then, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in lemon zest and mint. Once it cools, strain the syrup and discard the pepper, lemon zest and mint.
Using a large bowl, chop melons. Then, add the strained syrup to the bowl. Gently toss to coat.
If you’re looking to spice up your dishes, make sure that you use serrano pepper as one of your ingredients. Although they offer a decent kick of intensity, they’re not ridiculously spicy. They’re spicy enough to tickle your palate and add some life to a dish.