Chiltepin / Tepin
Spiciness: 8 - 9 (50.000 - 90.000 SHU)
General Info: Chiltepin, also called Tepin or Chiltepin, is the original type of many existing chili varieties of Capsicum annuum. Today you can still find Chiltepin usually growing wild in the Sonora desert of North Mexico, in Texas and Arizona. In contrast to most chili varieties which are usually quite long, the Chiltepin has small, round, upright growing red berries (approx. 6 - 8 mm diameter).
The name comes from the Aztec language and means “flea chili.” According to various archaeological excavations, Chilitepin was used over 9,000 years ago in Central America as a spice and a medicine (e.g. for heartburn).
The berries of the wild plants are still laboriously harvested by hand today, which makes the Chiltepin one of the most expensive spices in the world.
Plant growth habit: Chiltepins form branched, loose shrubs, which in their natural environment can grow up to 2 metres high and can live for many years or even decades. The numerous, pea-sized red fruits are thin-fleshed and are mainly spread by birds; hence the upright growth, so they can easily be seen and reached by the birds in the foliage.
Cultivation Tips: It takes some skill to cultivate Chiltepins, as they are quite difficult to bring to germination. Sometimes they need four weeks or more to germinate. This may be because the seeds in their natural habitat usually pass through the intestinal tracts of birds, which acts as a type of pickling solution to soften the seed coat. Some chili fans swear by softening the seeds in camomile tea to reduce the germination time. In our climate, the Chiltepin should be cultivated in pots so that the plants can be overwintered.
Culinary: The small red berries are flavourful and very spicy. The berries can be dried whole and then crumbled over food or ground into a powder. In Mexico and the southern states of the USA they are an important ingredient in sauces, stews, bean and meat dishes. Due to their rarity, they are among the ten most endangered foods of the American continent in the “Ark of Taste” of Slow Food.
Chiltepin seeds can be bought in our Shop.
|Type||Capsicum annuum var. glabisculum|
|Level of spiciness||8 - 9|
|Scoville||50.000 - 90.000 SHU|
|optimal germination temperature||24 - 30 °C|
|Sowing||Dec. - Apr.|
|Plant growth habit||bushy, branched, 60 - 80 cm in height|
|Ripening||from green to red|
|Fruit appearance||small round berries, approx. 1 cm in diameter|
|Ripening time||90 - 120 days|