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Orange Fresno Chile Peppers
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Orange Fresno chile peppers are small, slightly curved to straight pods, averaging 5 to 7 centimeters in length, and have a conical shape that tapers to a rounded point on the non-stem end. The semi-thin skin is smooth, firm, and waxy with a glossy sheen and ripens from green to orange when mature. Underneath the skin, the flesh is crisp, aqueous, and pale orange-white, encasing a central cavity filled with thin membranes and round, flat, cream-colored seeds. Orange Fresno chile peppers have an earthy and subtly sweet flavor with a moderate to hot level of heat, considered slightly hotter than a jalapeno or serrano chile. When cooked, the peppers develop a smoky, sweet flavor.
Orange Fresno chile peppers are available in the fall.
Orange Fresno chile peppers, botanically classified as Capsicum annuum, are a rare variety of Fresno pepper that belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Considered to be slightly hotter than the red Fresno, Orange Fresno chile peppers range 2,500 to 10,000 SHU on the Scoville scale. Orange Fresno chile peppers are primarily found in European markets and are difficult to find in the United States outside of home gardens. The pepper is favored as a specialty variety with a sweet, fruity flavor and is commonly infused into oils, hot sauces, and salsas.
Orange Fresno chile peppers are a good source of beta-carotene, which gives the fruit its bright orange hue and contains vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that can help boost the immune system. The peppers also contain capsaicin, which is a chemical compound that triggers pain receptors in our body to feel the sensation of burning. Capsaicin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and causes the body to release endorphins to counteract the perceived pain.
Orange Fresno chile peppers are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as stir-frying, sautéing, roasting, baking, and grilling. The peppers can be pureed into a hot sauce, chopped into salsa, or diced into ceviche for added spice. Orange Fresno chile peppers can also be sliced and added to salads, pasta, pizza, tacos, sandwiches, and burgers, or they can be mixed into stir-fries, served with barbecued meats, and stirred into soups, stews, and casseroles. It is important to note that immature Orange Fresno chile peppers won’t be nearly as spicy as when they are mature, but they can still be used in the same manner. Orange Fresno chile peppers can also be pickled, sliced and used to infuse vinegar, or added to cocktails for a spicy kick. Orange Fresno chile peppers pair well with cilantro, mint, lime juice, strawberries, avocado, black beans, rice, and cheeses such as cotija, feta, and cheddar. The fresh peppers will keep up to one week when stored whole and unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Fresno chile peppers were first grown and developed in Fresno County, California on a small farm near Clovis. The farm was owned by Clarence Brown Hamlin, who created the Clarence Brown Seed Company, and Hamlin was self-taught when it came to creating new plant varieties. Hamlin, known as “Brownie” by his friends, passed away shortly after the Fresno chile pepper’s release in the late 1950s and due to his passing, the variety was never fully marketed to gain worldwide recognition. Since then, his nephew, Casey Hamlin, has now taken up his uncle’s work in growing and marketing the pepper and uses heirloom seeds originally saved by his uncle.
Fresno chile peppers were first introduced in 1952 by seed company owner Clarence Brown Hamlin, and the peppers were named after his home county of Fresno, California. It is unknown when and where the Orange Fresno chile pepper was developed, but today the peppers are mainly available through European seed companies as a specialty, home garden variety.