The small hamlet of Upton Cheyney, in the hills near Bath is firmly marking itself on the map with its own Chilli Farm, The Upton Cheyney Chilli Company, which has also held a hugely successful Chilli Festival for the last 4 seasons, and new for 2013, there is a Tour of the Chilli Farm and Tasting Experience available. There are only a handful of commercial Chilli growers in the UK and as far as I am aware, this will be only one of two doing tours for the public.

Alex Duck and the team run the Chilli farm and here is Alex to explain the format of the tour;

Starting in our ancient and beautiful Tithe Barn, built in the 1600’s and the perfect sheltered spot in which to welcome you to the Upton Cheyney Chilli Farm, we will discuss chillies and their importance to us, as one of only a handful of UK chilli farmers.

From here we take a short walk to the Chilli Farm itself where you’ll harvest pods from the commercial growing areas whilst admiring the more exotic species that we have growing in our Simpson Seeds show tunnel. Using equipment supplied by GreenHouse Sensations, we will demonstrate a variety of growing medias including hydroponics, and self watering systems. Furthermore, we will be confronted with some of the hottest chillies known to man in the Hot Headz tunnel, whilst learning how chillies are grown across the world in the Bart Ingredients tunnel.

Smoking chillies is one of our specialities and here, in the tunnel area, we will demonstrate this process.

We’ll fill our bags with pods, and head on to the farm shop kitchen, demonstrating how we process the pods into our range of finished products.

Back at the Tithe Barn we’ll use our unique tasting technique to sample the chillies collected. This technique does not completely eliminate the heat, but does calm it, allowing the taster to appreciate the various flavours of each pod. Here you’ll also have the opportunity to sample our product range, including our award-winning sauces and chocolates, chilli cider and oils followed with a question & answer session.

Tours operate on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from mid July until the end of October, lasting approximately 1½ hours. Spaces on each tour are limited – you’ll need to pre-book the date and session in advance. Tour vouchers are priced at £25 per visitor or £40 per couple, with group bookings of 10 or above qualifying for discounts. Private group bookings are welcome.

You will be outside for some of the tour and we recommend that you wear suitable clothing – a working farm can get very muddy in wet conditions. We’re sorry but the tour is not suitable for wheelchair users.

You’re welcome to spend the entire day on the farm, where we also have a cafe, butchery and farm shop – or why not stay a little longer as we’ve our own campsite! For those seeking out extreme luxury in a unique setting, why not book one of our pre-pitched, Moroccan themed Bell Tents! For more information about our camping & glamping”

So there you go, the direct link to buy a voucher is here

I have visited the farm on a couple of occasions now and Alex is a natural host and knows his Chilli’s but I challenge you to book and try to catch him out!

Alex informs me that as a special for Chilefoundry readers, once you have bought your voucher, mention the words “SECRET SQUIRREL” to him and he will issue you a 15% refund!

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At this time of the year, having a steaming mug of Hot Chocolate after a sunday afternoon walk is something that everybody should enjoy, its comforting after coming in from the cold and is a great way of warming up, and here we have Hot Chocolate and Chilli combined in Elements for life’s Fiery Raw Hot Chocolate.

Now Chocolate is one of those things that the food police will tell you that must be avoided due to it being so bad for you, but actually Cacao, the raw element of chocolate is really good for you, its all the other ingredients added by the big chocolate companies that pile on the calories. Infact here are a few reasons why you should be having good quality Cacao/Chocolate:

  • It is one of the richest sources of MAGNESIUM, essential for a healthy heart and clear mind
  • High levels of ANTI-OXIDANTS, much more than green tea or red wine!
  • Packed full of ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS, the building blocks of cells
  • Loaded with FEEL GOOD CHEMICALS and neurotransmitters
  • Lots of VITAMINS including B & C
  • It’s an APPETITE SUPPRESSANT!
  • Not forgetting it TASTES FANTASTIC

So we now know the benefits of raw cacao and also the health benefits of chillies and this product has chilli powder from the Aji Orange. The powder is supplied by Jamie from The Wiltshire Chilli Farm

Now, how you make Hot Chocolate is very much a personal preference, some will use water, some will use milk, I am firmly in the latter category and the label suggests using oat milk as it makes the finished product extra creamy and and thick. Unfortunately I do not have any handy so standard semi skimmed will have to do!

The instructions say to add 3 tsps to a mug while gently warming the milk, then pour a small amount of milk into the mug and make a milky chocolate paste before adding the rest stirring well and then enjoy! The powder mixes really well with the warmed milk. It smells like normal Hot Chocolate and you cannot detect the Chilli content at this point.

So for the taste, I look to Mrs Lurch for her opinion on the taste as she is the in-house expert on Hot Chocolate to see how it compares to others she has tried. I have to admit once the warm milk is added to the chocolate, the smell is amazing and something I would expect in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!

The Chilli heat is instant,and compliments the chocolate well, it let’s you know it’s there as with other chocolate/chilli combinations but isn’t overpowering. It’s a nice warming feeling which is a great addition to the standard hot chocolate. Mrs Lurch isn’t a big Chilli eater and commented that it made her tongue tingle.

Ingredients:

Raw Cacao powder 50%, Coconut Palm Sugar/Blossom, Aji Orange Chilli

The ingredients are produced to ecological standards and are agro-chemical free.

Another thing worth noting is that the product is 100% natural and free from dairy, gluten, wheat, and refined sugar, suitable for vegans and also because they use Coconut Palm sugar, the chocolate is good for diabetics due to the slow release of the sugar as its not refined sugar like some bigger companies. It is sweet but without being too sweet.

It comes in a nice silver metal tin, at £6.75 for 175g it’s a nice premium product available from Elements for Life directly and especially for Chilefoundry readers, they are offering a 15% discount on their chilli hot chocolate and their Chilli Chocolate kit, in time for Christmas. Simply add the code ajiorange at checkout on the website until the 17th December to enjoy the discount.

This would make a good stocking filler for someone in the family.

Flavour
(9/10)
Heat
(6/10)
Packaging
(9/10)
Value (7/10)
Overall
(8/10)

 

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When I read a label on a chilli product which contains 6.4 and 12 million Chilli extract, it always fills me with dread, the thought of the stomach cramps you get with excessive consumption. Well here we have Chilli Pepper Pete’s “Sphincter Shrincter” chilli sauce, and sits somewhere between their Naga Headhunter and Dragons Blood heatwise.

The guys at CPP are no strangers to using extract in their products with the likes of Dragons Blood, Satan’s Sh*t which are top sellers. It makes me laugh that it is described as an everyday sauce, I would like to meet the people who eat extract based sauces everyday!

The labelling is similar to a few of their “novelty” sauces as I call them, with a cartoony look to them. You will always see tasters of these sauces at shows, allowing those showing off to their friends to be bought to their knees begging for milk!  This is actually a sauce I have not tried before mainly due to my extract issues!

The sauce itself is a dark brown chocolatey colour with dark flecks, and once open it smells rather nice. I can pick up the Soy beans and the tamarind but there is a very fruity element to it, but it is definately a savoury sauce.

Ingredients:

Onions, Soya Sauce (Water, Soybeans, Salt, Sugar, Wheat Flour), Green Chilli, Prunes, Fruit Juice, Urfa Chilli, Naga Chilli, Tamarind, Garlic, Ancho Chilli extract, Paprika extract, 6.4m and 12m SHU Chilli extract, Spices.

Bottle kindly supplied by Chilli Pepper Pete

As you can see the fruitiness comes from Prunes, so if the Extract doesnt make me go, the Prunes will!

So on to the taste, here we go, I put my finger over the end and invert the bottle. It leaves behind a thick dark brown residue on my finger and in it goes. I am immediately hit by the fruitiness, but not by the extreme heat I was expecting.

The heat level builds very quickly but its slightly slower than normal. Dont get me wrong, this is a hot sauce, the bottle says “Seriously Hot Sauce” and I would agree. Quite often the burn from extract affects different areas of the mouth but this is an all over burn, maybe because of the other chilli elements in the sauce.

To the unexperienced, this sauce would catch them by surprise, big time, I wouldn’t want to use this neat, you can forget trying a full teaspoon, it isn’t going to happen! Like most extract sauces, a little goes a long long way.

You can buy a 140ml bottle from the Chilli Pepper Pete website for £5 which will last you ages.

Flavour
(6/10)
Heat
(10/10)
Packaging
(7/10)
Value (7/10)
Overall
(7/10)

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I love it when a new variety of Chilli suddenly bursts on to the scene, seemingly out of nowhere, grown in almost secrecy for many seasons. It must be very difficult to keep these chillies quiet, and that is what Jim Duffy and Jay have done here with the  Jay’s Ghost Scorpion. Not much is known about Jay who developed the Chilli but we all know Jim is the owner of Refining Fire Chiles, selling seeds, plants and some other goodies.

Jay’s Red & Peach Ghost Scorpion- (Capsicum chinense) These are an extremely hot chilli which have been developed by a Mennonite farmer named Jay in Eastern Pennsylvania, United States. They have been growing for 4 years and are a cross between a Ghost Chilli (Bhut Jolokia) and a Trinidad Scorpion. The Peach variety was created by taking the lighter shades of colour from the parent chilli plants to get the Peach colour.

This variety grows into many contorted shapes, some having very long tails and will also look like an extremely twisted bumpy Ghost Chilli. Most paler coloured Superhots are milder in heat than the darker shades, but not this chilli! The flavour is floral but slightly sweet.

We received a package of dried pods through the post a while back from Jim and as soon as I opened the Jiffy Bag I knew these were going to be special, the smell took my breath away! I took a bite and it took my breath away too! The burn was instant, no hanging around waiting, and it was an intense burn throughout the mouth and very quickly on to the throat. As I swallowed the small piece of dried flesh, I could feel it burning all the way down.

Then last week I received another pack from Jim, this time some fresh pods which had softened but still held their shape. The fresh pods are just as deadly as dried, they just look like they have been made in hell and are melting in your hands!

Seeds are available direct from Jim at Refining Fire Chillies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Now, for those of you that do not know Jim Duffy’s story with Chillies, here it is in his own words;

“I won’t claim that if you start growing and eating chile peppers your life will change, but mine certainly did. When God created chiles, He made them unique. It is amazing how a small pod can hold so much heat, not to mention that the nutritional profile of a chile surpasses many other fruits and vegetables. Each chile variety possesses it’s own heat level, as well as a unique flavor, and the beautiful colors of the chile can rival an exotic flower.

My chile story started in 2003, when some co-workers, Rudy Moreno and Marcos Anguiano, began sharing their food with me. This included homemade salsas and sauces, which began an odyssey for my taste buds. Since I liked to cook, I asked questions and started making my own salsa. I experimented with various chiles, and eventually added habaneros to my recipe.

My inspiration grew as I pleased the taste buds of my Mexican friends. One day Rudy paid me the ultimate compliment, “If you make extra, I will buy it from you.” I made more than enough for Rudy and began selling salsa to my friends from work and church.

By that winter it was hard to find good habaneros, so I opted to grow them myself. The seeds were not available locally, so I went online where the world of chiles opened up to me. I stayed up ’till 3AM that first night, looking at site after site. I could not believe how many varieties of habaneros there were… so many colors and shapes. I was like a kid in a candy store. After three more nights of searching and a missed day at work, I emerged with 20 varieties of seeds for my first chile garden in the spring of 2004. I used drip irrigation and started small with only 100 plants. Some plants failed, while others improved the flavor of my salsa.

The following year I did better, but bought most of my plants online. It was more costly, but I did produce more chiles. In the late summer of 2005 I wandered into one of our church’s youth centers called Youth Venture where my friend was volunteering. As usual, I brought chips and salsa with me. I noticed that some of the kids were eating like it was their only meal of the day. This touched my heart, so I began showing up every Wednesday with meals for them and made spicy dishes with my chiles whenever I could. The kids loved them. They especially requested my spicy chicken soup made with habaneros.

By the end of the year I found myself at a second youth center in El Cajon, where my daughter, Michelle, was volunteering. Now I was feeding kids twice a week. In order to fund these dinners, I began catering part time and occasionally sold my chiles and salsa at local farmers’ markets. In February of 2006, I sent some of the kids to local college athletic events. Most of them came from single parent families and had never been to a sporting event.

In the summer of 2006 I began growing primarily Red Savina and Chocolate Habaneros, along with some Scotch Bonnet and Congo Yellow. By the end of summer I started visiting a third youth center, also in El Cajon. Now I was feeding kids at three centers a week and sending them in groups to San Diego State athletic events. By the end of 2006, my little journey with chiles had given me the resources to provide over 800 meals to youth and send over 400 of them to events!

By the end of 2006 my little journey with Chiles had given me the resources to provide over 800 meals and send over 400 children to events!

In the winter of 2007, my close friend, Larry Bridgeforth, introduced me to hydroponic gardening, which was intimidating to say the least. Was this method feasible for me? What if I failed and lost all my plants? In the spring of the following year, I planted 120 plants in my first NFT Hydroponic system purchased from IGS Hydroponics in Mira Mesa. An NFT system consists of tubes that hold the plant roots in a constant stream of water that contains nutrients. Larry was very busy raising five boys, so with the aid of the web and many phone calls I got the system up and running on my own. I planted 30 Bhut Jolokia, 40 Red Savina, 40 Chocolate Habaneros, and some assorted South American Ajis.

By July of 2007 I had a jungle. The roots had even pushed some of the plants up out of the tubes. “Too many” peppers caused several of the plants to fall over and even break. I started selling the chiles in various web ads, but they were not moving fast enough. Soon, a well-known restaurant in Chicago contacted me and bought almost everything I had. They eventually requested that I become their regular supplier. They host a “Hot as a Mother” dinner every year where my chiles are a big hit.

In 2008, I planted 40 each of Bhut Jolokia, Red Savina and Chocolate Habanero. I purchased better supplies from City Farmer’s Nursery in San Diego. It was Bill from City Farmer’s who gave me some guidance that first year. I expect to have at least 30% more chiles this year than last. I cannot fit between the two-foot rows, which means crawling under the system to harvest. Thank goodness the tubes are three feet above ground.

As far as I know, I am the only person growing the world’s three hottest chiles in an NFT Hydroponic System. My vision is to expand the business, find more restaurants, and market my salsa, which will facilitate more activities with the youth in East County, San Diego. I am glad that God made chiles because they have blessed my life – and the lives of others – in such unexpected ways.

In 2012 we have added some rare and diverse hot chilies. Some of these have never been sold before in the U.S.A.”

So that’s it, the Ghost Scorpions are due to be heat tested very soon so will we see a new record holder? watch this space……

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