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Aji Crystal Chile Peppers
Inventory, 5 lbs : 0
Aji Crystal chile peppers are straight or slightly curved, averaging 7 to 10 centimeters in length, and have an elongated, conical, and tapered shape. The smooth, waxy, and somewhat wrinkled skin is light green when young, transforming to pale yellow and then orange-red when mature. Underneath the medium-thick skin, the flesh is crisp and aqueous, encasing a central cavity filled with many small, round, cream-colored seeds. Aji Crystal chile peppers have a subtle citrus flavor and are often harvested young when they are light green-yellow and when the heat is less intense. When bright orange-red and fully ripe, the peppers develop a much hotter level of spice and the citrus flavors deepen into a smokier, fruity taste.
Aji Crystal chile peppers are available year-round, with a peak season in the summer through fall.
Aji Crystal, botanically classified as Capsicum baccatum, are small peppers found on bushes or shrubs that can reach up to one meter in height and belong to the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Also known as Aji Cristal chile peppers, Aji Crystal chile peppers are native to South America and vary in heat intensity, with some mature pods reaching over 30,000 SHU on the Scoville scale. The Capsicum baccatum species of chile peppers is one of the least cultivated of the five domesticated species, but the plants are highly prolific, and the pods are well-known for their smoky, fruity flavor that is unique to the species. Aji Crystal chile peppers are regarded to have the most flavor when harvested at an early stage and are commonly used in hot sauces and condiments.
Aji Crystal chile peppers are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and also contain some potassium, magnesium, and iron. The capsaicin in the peppers provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and gives the pods their varying levels of heat.
Aji Crystal chile peppers are most often used when the pods are still immature and have a pale-yellow hue indicating lower levels of heat. The young peppers can be stuffed with cheese or rice, roasted or baked, and served as an appetizer, or they can be chopped into fresh salsas and mixed into salads. The peppers can also be added soups, stews, chilis, and casseroles, or used to flavor braised meats. The more mature, red peppers can be pickled for extended use or dried to make chile powder, used as a flavoring for cooked meats, stir-fries, and vegetable dishes. Aji Crystal chile peppers pair well with smoked or barbequed meats, beans, rice, garlic, onions, potatoes, and bell peppers. The young peppers will keep up to two weeks when stored in the refrigerator, while more mature peppers will keep up to one week. Aji Crystal chile peppers can also be cooked and frozen or pickled and stored for up to three months in the freezer or refrigerator.
In Chile, Aji Crystal chile peppers are commonly used to make a salsa called pebre, which is traditionally made with onions, garlic, Aji Crystal chiles, oil, salt, and pepper. The salsa is often served in restaurants alongside bread and butter as a table sauce and is a traditional condiment at barbeques served with meats, sausages, or boiled potatoes. Pebre is also popular on sandwiches, and some Chileans enjoy dipping French bread into the salsa.
Aji Crystal chile peppers are native to Curico, Chile and have been cultivated since ancient times. Today the pepper is centralized to South America, especially to Chile, Bolivia, and Peru, and is not commercially cultivated on a large scale. Aji Crystal chile peppers can be found in home gardens and through small farms in South America, and they can also be found through online seed catalogs for home garden use in Central America, the United States, and Europe.