I love the idea of hot peppers much more than my body likes it when I eat them. For that reason I am always on the look out for what West Indians call “seasoning peppers.” That is, varieties that impart the flavour of hot peppers without the heat.* One of the best seasoning peppers that I have found is a beautiful, bright yellow-orange scotch bonnet aka habanero-type variety called ‘Trinidad Perfume.’
As the name suggests, this variety is perfumed like a typical habanero, but carries little to no heat. The peppers are incredibly flavourful and aromatic. They are fruity and sweet with a strong citrus flavour, yet I can bite into one without burning my mouth or destroying my digestive tract. I have enjoyed them chopped up finely and served fresh in tuna salad, added to fresh salsa/pico de gallo, or cooked/stewed with meat and vegetables much in the way you would use a regular habanero. I have also used it in pickles, and I imagine that it would work wonderfully this way all on its own. The time has passed this year, but the fruity flavour would also work well in a peach jam.
Over the last two years I have grown this variety among the many that I keep in pots on my sunny front stoop, overwintering the first plant in addition to starting a new one from self-collected seed. The plant looks just like the other habanero types I have grown in the past (it is also Capsicum chinense) and requires the same growing conditions.
Be forewarned that some plants can revert and produce hot fruit. If heat is a problem for you, I suggest tasting the first fruit carefully to ascertain its heat level before adding them to food. In fact, I tend to taste a small piece of each fruit before I use it, just in case.
- Final height is about 2 feet.
- Grow in full sun in well-draining soil. Allow the top inch of soil to dry slightly between waterings.
- Requires about 100 days to fruit. Start seed very early. I start mine as early as January in zone 5b.
- Save seed from ripe, unblemished fruit.
- Fruit forms green and transforms to bright yellow-orange. Harvest once this colour has developed.
- Container Growing: I have only grown it in containers so far. This is a tall plant so choose a pot that is at least 12″ deep.
- Overwinter indoors near a bright light source. I keep mine in a large south-facing window. Bring indoors well before the hard frost hits your region.
I bought my seeds from Solana Seeds in Quebec, but there are several other vendors online.
*Note that seasoning peppers can be a little spicy. However, their main purpose is imparting flavour to a dish.