Balcony Habaneros: From Seed to Sauce

Back in March 2020 we started the seeds for our balcony garden. We were lucky enough to grab some seeds from the hardware store before things started to get really locked down, and also bought some online from a company out west. The habaneros came from Home Depot.

They got planted in the little pod kit we bought along with the rest of our seeds. They are pretty great space savers, but I’m not sure we will go this route again. They were a bit of a pain to transplant into intermediate containers and then again into the large pots for outside.

They got transplanted to plastic cups on April 15th while we waiting to be safe from frost. The leaves are so beautiful and glossy, it was a delight to watch them grow under the grow light. The photos below are from April 15th and April 30th and you can really see how both the lettuce and the peppers thrived.

We finally got them outside on May 16th. There was some experimentation with pruning. We topped some of the plants and not the others. Most of the plants were excellent producers, so we’re not sure we can say there was a benefit.

The plants thrived. We started getting our first fruits in the beginning of August, and they are still producing (very slowly) into the end of September. Throughout August we harvested from the plants almost every day and have so far ended up with 338 g of peppers, which is more than we know what to do with…

These peppers are so gorgeous! We put some aside to ferment, and processed the rest for the freezer. We have been pulling them out if the freezer to make salsa with as well as to add to baked beans.

Fermenting Peppers

We’re not the most spice tolerant people out there, so we tried a fermented sauce. The recipe we decided to go with was a mango habanero sauce which we found on Farm Steady. Gloves were worn.

There was nothing really notable about the ferment, except for maybe the lack of visible activity. There was some bubbling, but this is nothing like a kimchi or other sugar heavy ferment, which we found surprising because that was a delicious and juicy mango we used!

After fermenting the sauce was still hot, but some of the edge had been taken off from both the sweet mango and the fermentation process. We kept the large jar and one of the small jars for ourselves and gave the other small jar away.

Will we grow habaneros again?

We didn’t get much use out of the peppers apart from in the fermented sauce – of which we have enough for a very, very long time. I think next year we will likely grow some more peppers if the seeds are still viable, but we will add less hot peppers like jalapenos into the mix as well.

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