Barker's Hot

  • Sun: Full sun
  • Harvest Size: 5 to 7 inches long, 1 to 2 inches wide
  • Days to Harvest: 75 to 85
  • Plant size: 24 to 36 inches tall, 18 inches wide
  • Scoville heat units: 15,000 to 30,000 (medium)

Barker’s Hot is the hottest New Mexico-type pepper. This heirloom chile blends good flavor with moderate heat. With thin skins, this pepper prepares quickly in the kitchen, making it a good candidate for roasting, frying whole, or stuffing. Many people refer to Barker’s Hot as a hot Anaheim; use it as you would Anaheim chiles.

Green fruits ripen to bright red; heat increases as peppers become redder. Although plants produce well in many regions, Barker’s Hot was selected from a native New Mexican chile. That means these plants thrive and bear most heavily in the Desert Southwest.

Plant spacing: 18-24 inches apart in rows 30 inches apart; 12 to 18 inches in intensive gardens. One plant per 18-inch container. Plants per person: 2 for fresh use; 4 for freezing, canning, and drying.

Secrets to Success »

Peppers are very cold-sensitive. Don’t set plants out in the garden until two weeks after the last frost. Moisture is vital for fruit development. To help soil retain moisture, mix compost into planting holes, and mulch soil around plants. Pepper branches are brittle. Stake plants as fruits start to form, tying pepper-laden branches to stakes, or use small tomato cages for support.

Harvest and Use »

Snip stems of individual peppers using a sharp knife or clippers, leaving a small portion of stem attached. Rinse and dry peppers; store in the refrigerator. The more peppers you pick, the more you’ll get. Pick at any stage—from green to red—until you determine the stage and heat your family enjoys. Remember that red peppers are the hottest.

Handle hot peppers with care; it’s best to wear disposable rubber or plastic gloves when harvesting or handling fruit. To avoid burning sensations, don’t touch your eyes, mouth, or nasal areas while working with hot peppers. Wash your hands before using the bathroom, even if you’ve been wearing gloves.

Capsaicin, the compound that produces the heat in a hot pepper, is primarily concentrated in the veins, ribs, and seeds, but sensitivity to it varies. Use caution until you know how you’ll react. If pepper juice gets in your eye or nose, flush immediately with cold water. When the fire is in your mouth, grab milk or yogurt to counteract the burn. Do not re-use wash cloths or towels that may have capsaicin on them; launder them to avoid spreading the chemical.

Use Barker’s Hot chiles to craft a signature pico de gallo. These fruits also make a great addition to chile sauce, guacamole, or hot pepper relish. Stuff to create chile rellenos, or roast to enhance the smoky flavor. Harvest green for pickling or preparing spicy hot pepper vinegar. Chop peppers into soups and chili.

Substitute Barker’s Hot peppers in recipes calling for Anaheim peppers when you want a fiery flavor. These are good peppers for canning. You can also dry fruits and grind into flakes for seasoning soups and stews.

Try These Garden Companions »

  • Cilantro, tomatoes, and onions—all the ingredients you need for creating hot and spicy pico de gallo.
  • Habanero pepper, Anaheim pepper, Poblano/Ancho pepper, onions, and tomatoes to blend a signature hot pepper sauce.
  • Sweet onion, Thai basil, tomatillo, crookneck squash, and cherry tomatoes for stir-fry
  • Petunias and marigolds—colorful-fruited peppers look great tucked into flower beds.

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