Friday, January 31, 2014

Getting the Most out of your Pepper Harvest

Do you want to add value to your pepper harvest? In this post, we’ll first discuss choosing the correct pepper variety, then cover finding creative ways to package your peppers, and lastly, we will refer to a few common value-added processes.


Carmen (F1)
Choosing the correct pepper variety:
Before the seed is ordered, it’s important to make the correct varietal choices. Ask yourself the following questions: What types of peppers perform best in my region? Are there regional favorites that my customers have asked for? What is the intended end use for the peppers? Are there under-served ethnic markets or restaurants?

Here at Johnny’s, we help our customers clearly identify the main benefits and attributes of each of our pepper varieties, including their intended end use. It pays to research the specific demands in your region before picking a type or variety of pepper.

Check out what other growers are selling at local farmers markets. If you have adventurous customers and most growers there are not growing specialty peppers, this might present you with an opportunity. If your customers are culinarily conservative, maybe the standard pepper varieties are best for you. Another good idea is to contact restaurants in your area to find out what they are looking for. You can show them pictures of unique varieties in Johnny’s catalog or on our website.  It’s better to do your homework ahead of time so you don’t get stuck with peppers you can’t sell.

Creative Packaging:
If you’re looking for a new, unique way to package your pepper varieties, try some of the ideas below:

  •           Sell your snack peppers in mixed pints of small bags and market them as the perfect-sized, healthy snack
  •           Offer different colored bell peppers in mixed packages
  •           Combine similarly-sized specialty peppers such as Aura, Glow, and Lipstick and offer them as a colorful snack-pack  

Red Flame (F1) (OG)
Value-Added Processing

  • Ristras: They take a bit of effort, but they typically sell quite well. String the peppers before they are dry to prevent breakage. Red Flame is a good choice for Ristras and wreaths. Bangkok would also make a nice mini ristra or wreath.
  • Chiles: Chiles can also be dried and ground to sell as powder or flakes. Please note, this requires eye protection and a respirator so you won’t burn your eyes or lungs in the process. Again, it’s important to research the demand for this type of product in your area, as the selling price of this product would have to be quite high to justify the effort. 
  •  Jalapenos and Serranos: Peppers can be smoked and sold as whole or powdered chipotles.
  •  Anchos (Poblanos): These can be dried and powdered and made into mole sauce.
  • Anaheims (Numex): These peppers are easily roasted and can be sold for several times what unroasted peppers fetch.

Specific Pepper Varieties:

Highlander (F1) (OG)

Continue exploring additional resources on the topic of value-added processing at Johnnyseeds.com by reviewing  “Getting Started with Value-Added Crops”. This article covers finding your niche and business basics for value-added processors. Also, be sure to read our profile on Johnny’s customer, Freedom Farms in Maine, where we discuss their process for roasting peppers.

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