Tag Archives: Learning

Rocoto – Capiscum Pubescens – the hairy chilli from South America (updated with additional photos Dec 17)

RocotoThis rather gorgeous chilli plant is known in Peru as rocoto. Sometimes it is called the hairy chilli, think of a pubescent boy! And Wiki tells me it will have black seeds which distinguish it from other species of chilli. Thanks to Rhizowen for confirming the id too!

It will overwinter providing it is protected from frost and its stems become woody, so it is also sometimes called a tree chilli and can live up to 15 years!

Neil and Jo were lucky enough to be gifted a two year old plant by Henleaze Garden Shop  for Blaise Community Garden – HGS is an independent garden centre where the owner and  family grow all sorts of unusual plants in their greenhouses , sharing Neil’s chilli passion – at the back of the shop – and thus are able to offer something different to their customers as well as the stock that comes in from nurseries. Henleaze Garden Shop is next to the Tesco garage on Henleaze High Street and always worth a visit as it is packed with plants and is a genuine local family business.

rocoto fruit.jpg

The Blaise plant is being lovingly tended by Neil in Greenhouse 1 and at the moment is flowering and setting fruit. When fully ripe the fruit will be red and resemble a small bell pepper. Jo has been told it is a hot chilli with a short burst of heat! Can’t wait to try it!


From Wikipedia :

Like all other species of the genus Capsicum, plants of the species Capsicum pubescens grow as a shrub, but sometimes as climbing plants. They grow into four-meter woody plants relatively quickly, and live up to 15 years, which gives them, especially with age, an almost tree-like appearance.[10] After a first impulse is formed, the plant branches at a height of about 30 cm for the first time, and forms during growth by further dividing into a bushy appearance. More shoots develop from the leaf axils. Some varieties have purple discoloration on the branches, as can be observed in other Capsicums pecies. The leaves have a 5–12 mm long petiole and a leaf blade ovate to 5–12 cm long, 2.5 to 4 cm wide, tapering at the top and the base is wedge-shaped.[11]

In addition to the relatively long life, Capsicum pubescens differs in many other characteristics from related species.


The flowers appear singly or in pairs (rarely up to four) on the shoots, and the branches are at about 1 cm long flower stems, which extend on the fruit to around 4–5 cm. The calyx has five triangular pointed teeth, which have in the fruit a length of about 1 mm. A characteristic different from other cultivated species of the genus Capsicum is the blue-violet-colored petals, brighter in the centre. The anthers are partly purple, partly white.[7]

PS  I found this on the Scoville Scale ( I am growing Anaheim at home this year because I am a wimp!)

Image result for rocoto wiki

Joanna Baron July 2017


Update December 2017

I thought I would update this with some photos of the ripe fruits and a simple recipe for making a red pepper sauce which you can make as hot or as mild as you like and then freeze in little quantities for later use.


By the end of August the first of the fruits were ripening and ready to harvest. The plant was heavy with fruit and its stems would snap off occasionally under the weight.

They are ovoid and smooth and have thick fleshy walls and black seeds

I dried some of them for Neil using a dehydrator, cutting them in half as otherwise it would take forever.


and I made a version of Turkish pepper paste with just one of them (!) and about a kg of sweet red peppers. To do this you roast the peppers and the chilli whole in the oven till the skin is blackened and soft, skin the fruits, and remove the seeds and then pulp the roasted flesh to a smooth paste, add salt to taste, spread on a tray and put back in the oven to darken and become thick and sticky. Then scrape off the tray and store in little pots. It is a fabulous base for dishes like Enzo the Bride red lentil soup, recipe in Sally Butcher’s Veggistan book,  adding sweetness, piquancy and heat.

Sourdough at The Loaf in Crich

I received this lovely email and photos from Anne yesterday and I asked her if I could share it with you all. So she has kindly agreed to let me post it as a guest post. 

Much to tell !

Baking Course at the Loaf in Crich

On Sunday, I attended the first Sourdough course held at the loaf in Crich, my first bread course ever.

And what a day it was !

it started with the drive to Crich in Derbyshire. After leaving the hustle and bustle of the A38, we followed quiet, narrow, windy roads, past Heage and its working windmill and up the hills to Crich. The village was still sleepy, enveloped in a blanket of fog. As I stepped through the threshold of the café, I thought I had entered a new world.

It felt as when I go back to southern France my home: as the plane lands and the exit doors open, I am engulfed in a warm comforting blanket of warmth, light, smell of my Garrigue and noise of crickets with one thought forming and dominating in my head: “I am home!”.

The café was inundated with light, cosy, the happy chatty community enjoying their breakfast.

Although the team was busy with an already important clientèle on this Sunday morning, they quickly served us with a choice of fruit juices, hot drinks, croissants and brioches.

Seven bakers were present to follow a day-long course on sourdough orchestrated by Andrew. Indeed, Andrew organised, planned the day and directed the bakers as a real conductor.

A very nice person and teacher, he passed on to us more than techniques and knowledge but his passion for the art.

Andrew was patiently demonstrating, correcting, encouraging and complimenting the bakers through each step of the bread baking process – weighing out, mixing, autolyse, kneading , rising, folding, shaping, proving, slashing, steaming, baking, and cooling.

I really benefited from being shown how to knead the French way:   until now, I had a tendency to ease my frustration at working wet sticky dough (usually 70% hydration) by adding a bit of flour on the counter. Here, Andrew even added more water to our baguette dough (!!!)  so we would understand how our vigorous slapping and kneading would start the gluten development and with it the elasticity and stretch. Reaching the point when the dough is smooth and silky was more obvious than any book description read so far.

The Crich dough with both rye and wheat leavens was prepared using the no-knead bread method. At 79% hydration, the dough was easier to work that way.

Understanding the pre-bulk was demonstrated by the 100 % rye bread: no vigorous kneading required, but learning to work with rye and judging the critical moment when the dough is ready to be shaped.

Bench rest followed by shaping: we formed bâtards, baguettes, boules and rolls.

Taken from Anne's phone! Wow look at those holes!

I have recently followed several times a Spelt and Corn rolls recipe from Dan Lepard adapted to sourdough but the polenta makes firmer dough and therefore facilitate the shaping. Rolls with the baguette sourdough excess were a different matter: I had to  understand the dough more and look at it: its aspect, its elasticity and how these are affected by how long/how we shape, how much flour on the work surface and our hands.

Slashing: That takes practice ! and practice and practice ! and obviously, I have not practiced enough on wet dough.

Many questions were asked always answered with expertise and honesty: bread baking is a science and who knows exactly what those millions and millions of wild yeast and bacteria will do! It was obvious that Andrew had more than techniques and books to share but also true passion, He presented different ways to work: machine or hand-knead, low / high hydration levain and its effect on flavour and acidity, wet dough or not depending on how aerated you want your bread to turn out. Never too technical or overly scientific but always all easily explained.

It was after 5 by the time our loaves were out of the oven and cooling. Andrew had been up since 5 o’clock in the morning but was the only one still alert: all seven amateur bakers were exhausted!

On Monday, his day off, Andrew will be busy baking in preparation for Christmas. With cafés in Crich and Matlock, supplying to wholesale, participating in weekly markets and Christmas market, organising many bread courses, one wonders what is next!

For me, I will wait impatiently all week until I can finally on Friday evening take from the fridge this magical starter and as it feeds on flour and water, it will come alive again.

In the meantime, I will enjoy savouring those lovely loaves baked at The Loaf !

Enjoy your week!

All text and photos taken by Anne and shown by permission.