Chilli Varieties

We have heard a few tales in our time….  But at the end of the summer Pete of ChilliPepperPete fame was telling us about a White Chilli he had coming in a container with some other products from China.. Well it was the end of the day and I asked him to send us some when they arrived.

ChillipepperPete - Chinese White Chilli

ChillipepperPete - Chinese White Chilli

Well here they are, and I don’t think I have ever seen a chilli like it. There is no strong distinctive smell, but when I first opened the bag, it was a little like opening a bag of currents. Heat wise this is defiantly not hot one, There is however an interesting light fragrant taste that reminds me of green tea, they can be easily eaten straight from the bag, almost as a snack.

I am going to steep a couple in warm water and see how they rehydrate (will report back the results)

They are not yet on the ChilliPepperPete web site so if you are interested in getting your hands on some, you may have to email in for more information.

While I am on the subject of web sites, the  ChilliPepperPete web site has been growing and now includes lots more products from some of the best UK artisan chilli sauce makers including:-  Bims Kitchen, Burning Desire Foods, Cambridge Chilli Farm, The Chilli Jam Man, The Chilli Pepper Co, Chilliqueen, Chinthe, Dartmoor Chilli Farm, Grim Reaper Foods, Hot Headz, Karimix, Lilys Chillies, Manjira, Mr Singh’s, Mr Vikkis, Rico Picante, Sinful Sauces, Smokey Joe Sauce Co and The Wiltshire Chilli Farm.

They have not left out some of the colony’s with products from Blairs, Cajohns, Marie Sharps, Original Australian and Pain is Good.

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Is this a "Bird Eye" Chilli

Is this a "Bird Eye" Chilli

This is one of the most common chillies available in the UK supermarkets and specialist shops, you can find it both fresh and dried, they are relatively hot at between 100,000 – 225,000 Scovile Units (SHU), but are we all taking about the same chilli, as there seems to be a lot of confusion about what they are!

In general they seem to be  about 1 – 3 cm in length and 0.5cm to 1cm in diameter, they are thin walled, packed with seeds and conical in shape, starting green and maturing to red.

Birds Eye chillies are found all over Africa and Asia, and is know by many local names such as Piri-Piri or Bird’s eye chili, Bird, African Devil, Boonie pepper, Cabe rawit (Indonesian), Cengek (Sundanese), Cengis (Banyumasan language), Cili padi (Malay), Kanthari mulagu (Malayalam), Kochchi (Sinhalese), Ladâ, Lombok rawit (Javanese), Phrik khi nu (Thai), Siling labuyo (Tagalog/Filipino), Thai dragon, Thai hot, Congo chiles, Mombassa chiles, Pequin chiles, Uganda chiles and Zanzibar chiles.

It seem that we are all confused where this chilli is a C.annuum or A.frutescens with different seed providers being evenly balanced on the subject, but we have even seen it listed at C.chinense.

For what is one of the most commonly available chillies, we are confused, it is probably lots of different variates, that look similar, a common name Piri-Piri translates in some languages to Hot-Hot while it others it has become the term for chillies.

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The Facing Heaven chilli is so named as it grows with the pods pointing towards to sky. It originated from the Sichuan province in southwest China.

The Facing Heaven Chilli

The Facing Heaven Chilli

The pods are cone shaped and grown to between 3 and 6 cm in length, and 1-2cm in diameter, they are very thin skinned and when dried they produce a nice rattle sound when shaken.

Facing Heaven Chilles are a big part of Szechuan cuisine is unlike any other Chinese cuisine we are use to it he highly flavour with Garlic and Chillies, with the Szechuan peppercorn also playing a signification part.

The pods have a bit of a citrus zing to them and are mild to medium heat so can be used in most cooking, In the UK you may find them in specialist retailers, but they are generally hard to find.

These pods where kindley provided by ChilliPepperPete and can be found on his web site, which also have stock of Szechuan peppercorns. we have a great recipe from ChillipepperPete for a Szechuan Hot Pot coming very soon.

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“The following varieties are – as far as we know – unique to us in the UK. In the majority of the cases, we were given the original seed by other people (usually travellers) and after years of growing them out now produce seed ourselves” – Joy Michaud Sea Spring Seeds

Apricot (Capsicum chinense)

Sea Springs Seeds - Apricot - Image © Sea Spring Seeds


Sea Spring Seeds’ version of a mild habanero, Apricot is virtually heat-free. The elongated fruit are slightly-grooved and measure about 25×60 mm. They have an appealing crunchy texture and a wonderfully fresh, aromatic fragrance. As they mature the colour changes from a delicate lime green to a stunning salmon orange. The medium-sized plants are quite tidy and disciplined, and can be grown, with some support, either in pots, growbags or the ground.
Delicious stuffed or used in salads as a fragrant addition to the dish. A real treat for cooks keen on introducing extra flavour to their food, and suitable for anyone nervous of the mouth-burning nature of chillies.

Approximate heat level: 700 SHU

Coffee Bean (Capsicum chinense)

Sea Springs Seeds - Coffee beans - Image © Sea Spring Seeds

Coffee beans

The tiny, round fruit of this variety measure 9 to10 mm in diameter and have a powerful fruity aroma. They mature from green to bright orange and eventually red, reminiscent of ripe coffee beans. The plants are short and busy and can grow unsupported in both small and large pots.

Approximate heat level: 77,000 SHU

Pumpkin (Capsicum chinense)

Sea Springs Seeds - Pumpkin - Image © Sea Spring Seeds


This appropriately-named variety produces pumpkin-shaped fruit that measure 20mm in diameter. The fruit mature from dark green to orange, and have a strong habanero flavour when ripe. The plants are somewhat prostrate with spreading branches that are laden with fruit. They do well unsupported in large pots, growbags or the ground.

Approximate heat level: 73,000 SHU

Turtle Claw (Capsicum chinense)

Sea Springs Seeds - Turtle Claw - Image © Sea Spring Seeds

Turtle Claw

The twisted, knobbly fruit of this variety measure about 9.5 x 38 mm, and mature from light green to pastel yellow. The very hot fruit are a distinctive mix of habanero and lemon flavours. The plants are very productive and have a bushy growth habit that makes them ideal for growing in pots. Flavourful, productive and compact, this is one of our favourite habaneros.

Approximate heat level: 96,000 SHU

Stumpy (Capsicum annuum)

Sea Springs Seeds - Stumpy - Image © Sea Spring Seeds


We named this variety Stumpy because of its diminutive size. The wedge-shaped, upright fruit are about 30mm long and produced above the foliage in bunches. They are medium hot, and turn from yellow to orange and red as they mature. Because of their small stature and compact growth habit, the plants do especially well in small pots and are ideally suited for windowsill growing.

Approximate heat level: 27,000 SHU

Rooster Spur (Capsicum annuum)

Sea Springs Seeds - Rooster spur - Image © Sea Spring Seeds

Rooster spur

We have been growing Rooster Spur on and off since the early 1990s and have always been impressed by the huge number of fruit it produces: in 2010, for example, we harvested over 2000 mature fruit from a single plant. The fruit are thin and short (about 4.5x 20mm) and very hot, turning from green to red as they ripen. Rooster Spur is quite late to mature for a C. annuum, and may not reach its full potential in northern Britain. Plants have very small leaves and a bushy growth habit that needs no support. This variety is perfectly adapted to containers, growing equally well in small 13cm pots and larger 30cm ones: the plants just get bigger and bear more fruit as the pots get larger.

Approximate heat level: 170,000 SHU

All the images in this article are © Sea Spring Seeds

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