The hot pepper family is a very diverse group, with over a thousand different varieties being grown worldwide. They come in different shapes, sizes, and even colors (not all peppers are red, green, orange, or yellow; some are brown and purple). And new varieties are coming into the spotlight almost every year thanks to the thousands of hot pepper breeders out there whose sole mission is to create the ultimate hot pepper.
However, within the realm of hot peppers emerge some of the weirdest looking and tasting pods you have ever laid your eyes on. Hot pepper connoisseur or not, these mind-blowing creations will undoubtedly make you look at hot peppers in a different light.
BISHOP CROWN HOT PEPPER
The bishop doesn’t wear a pepper crown; however, this pepper is so named because of its pod shape. A member of the Capsicum baccatum species, Bishop Crown, also known as Joker’s Hat or Christmas Bell pepper, is indigenous to the South American region; however, it is typically found in Barbados. The pod has a unique three-cornered shape with rounded tips resembling a bishop’s cap or a bell that turns a bright red color when fully ripe. What’s more, the pod is small with only an average diameter of 4 cm; and typically has a very thin flesh inside.
The pepper plant often grows to a towering two-meter height and does not exhibit the usual bush-type growth, unlike other hot peppers. Having a mild heat of only 5,000 to 30,000 SHU and a smoky paprika flavor makes Bishop Crown hot peppers a favorite salsa and salad condiment by locals. Plus, they also love processing this unique hot pepper into chili powders often used as a substitute for the paprika spice.
ALAKU SARGA PEPPER
More commonly known only as pumpkin pepper, Paradicsom Alaku Sarga pepper is one of the world’s cutest pepper varieties. A Hungarian favorite, this pepper is often referred to as Alaku Sarga, Paradicsom Alaku, or Paradicsom Alaku Sarga Szentes by locals. It was first discovered in a local market in Matrafured, Hungary; however, they later traced its origins to the town of Szentes, Hungary.
So named because of its pod’s appearance, which resembles a flat version of a mini pumpkin, the Alaku Sarga is a plump pepper that sports several deep grooves. The golden yellow pepper is very juicy, thick-fleshed, and is categorized as a sweet pepper with 0 SHU. Thanks to its sweet flavor, the Alaku Sarga is often used for salsas, salads and best cooked stuffed, fried, or roasted.
MACEDONIAN REZHA HOT PEPPER
An heirloom pepper, the Macedonian Rezha is one of the weirdest-looking hot peppers you’ll ever set your eyes on. You’d probably initially think it’s suffering from a disease due to its corking lines, which cover its entire pod surface. However, these brownish-white lines are what makes this Macedonian-native a must-have for hot pepper collectors and hobbyists, and yes, they are edible.
Also known as Vezeni Piperki, which translates to “embroidered,” the Macedonian Rheza (engraved) is a long hot pepper whose shape resembles that of okra and is about 4 to 7 inches long. The young pod is initially deep green before turning into a dark red shade when fully ripe. Furthermore, it is considered as a relatively mild hot pepper with a SHU of 1000 to 8000; however, reports have surfaced that in some cases, the pods can also turn up the notch to an even hotter level. Often used for soups or is cooked over the grill, the Macedonian Rheza sports a sweet and nutty flavor that makes it a local favorite.
Another heirloom variety coming from Capsicum annuum, the Fish Pepper is one of the oldies but goodies hot peppers originating from the Caribbean. However, its popularity skyrocketed after being brought over to America in the 1900s and has become a favorite among the Black American community and Mid-Atlantic restaurants ever since.
What makes the Fish Pepper unique is its aesthetically pleasing appearance.
Both the pod and the plant’s leaves exhibit white variegated lines and are often grown as an ornamental plant rather than kitchen use. The pepper pods are cone-shaped and grow to about two inches in length. Its skin starts with a green shade before turning into a deep red or bright orange color. However, the white streaks are more clearly shown when the pod is still immature as it often turns darker or fades out once it ripens.
Considered as a mildly hot pepper with a SHU of 5000 to 30,000, the fish pepper packs a punch with a hint of sweetness that you’ll love.
The first time I saw what this pepper looks like, I thought that maybe people were playing tricks again, photoshopping some pepper. However, digging deeper, I discovered that the Peter Pepper indeed sports a giggly appearance that will make your minds go wild.
Also considered an heirloom pepper, the Peter Pepper created some buzz thanks to its weird phallic-shaped pods. Although its origins are still unknown, the pepper is widely grown in Texas and Mexico. And it was initially cultivated as ornamental peppers before people started using them in the kitchen.
The pod’s appearance resembles an ‘uncircumcised male organ’ as experts describe it, which grows to about 3 to 4 inches in length. And comes either in red or orange varieties. It packs a relatively tongue-burning heat of 5000 to 30,000 SHU and has a fruity aftertaste, making them a favorite salsa, salad, and soup condiment. Some would even sprinkle the pepper slices on top of their pizzas, while others prefer them as their go-to hot sauce.
Peppers are well-loved not only due to their heat-kicking flavor but also for their aesthetically weird looks. With the thousands of varieties being grown in every continent, growers and collectors often go crazy every time a new variety pops up, especially if it looks bizarre. However, enthusiast or not, you will definitely appreciate how Mother Nature makes each pepper unique and stand out from the rest.