Cascabella peppers are small, mildly spicy wax-type peppers, usually around 2 inches in length. They form small cone shapes that end in a rounded point. The chilies start out yellow, eventually turning orange and then red as they ripen.
However, they’re typically eaten when they’re in the yellow stage. They shouldn’t be confused with cascabel peppers. The names might be similar, but the peppers themselves are anything but.
Cascabel peppers are a deep, dark brown colour, are shaped somewhat like cherries, and rattle when shaken.
What Can Cascabella Peppers Be Used For?
Cascabella peppers are one of the milder chili peppers that you’ll come across. Not quite as mild as, say, a padron pepper, but pretty mild all the same. They range in heat from 1500 to 6000 Scoville Heat Units, which puts them around the same spice level as jalapeños.
This means that while they do have a clearly noticeable spice, it’s only at a low level and isn’t going to make your mouth burn. Overall, their flavor is fruity with a mild sweetness, somewhat comparable to a particularly sweet bell pepper.
As mentioned above, they’re often eaten when they’re yellow, which means they’re sometimes mistaken for banana peppers.
Cascabella peppers are often pickled and you’ve probably seen them sold pickled in jars in supermarkets. However, they are frequently sold as “pickled chili peppers” rather than being sold under the name cascabella peppers.
They have a crisp, slightly tart flavor that is enhanced by the pickling process, and you might have eaten sliced pickled cascabella peppers instead of a pickled gherkin in a burger.
This is particularly common in some parts of California, where several fast food chains serve cascabella peppers with their food under the name “mezzetta hot chili peppers”.
Cascabella peppers are also great to use in salads, where their tart crunch can add new dimensions of flavor and a gentle heat.
Chefs often like to make use of the cascabella’s heat to add a hit of spice to dishes because they also bring that fruity sweetness to the mix without adding any extra salt. Another way to do this is to use them to make sauces.
With the addition of a little oil, vinegar, sugar, and water, they can easily be whipped up into a great hot sauce, either in combination with other types of chili pepper, or as the star ingredient by themselves.
If you’re going to be cutting them up, use caution and remember that they’re spicy peppers.
Sure, they’re not particularly spicy as far as chili peppers are concerned, but if you chop up some cascabella peppers without washing your hands afterwards and then touch a sensitive area of your body, you’re still going to regret it.
Growing Cascabella Peppers
Cascabella peppers are relatively easy to grow and will reach maturity in around 80 days without too much help from you beyond the basics. The best way to start growing cascabella peppers, as with most peppers, is to start them indoors in the early spring, before the last spring frost has come and gone.
Do not put them outside until well after the last frost, as they are very sensitive to the cold and could easily be killed off if you do.
Don’t plant them too deep – a quarter of an inch is enough – and make sure they stay moist and don’t dry out until they germinate. Once they’ve done this, they can be moved, either into individual pots or the soil of your garden.
An extra bonus of growing cascabella peppers is that the plants themselves look lovely. With green leaves and pretty white flowers, they’re an attractive addition to any garden, even when they’re not fruiting.
The pepper is thought to have originated in Mexico and likes sunlight, so make sure you plant it somewhere where it’s going to get full sun.
It needs moderate amounts of water, so it’s best to water it little and often – take particular care not to flood or waterlog it. Loamy, sandy soil with a P.H. of between 7 and 8.5 is ideal as the cascabella plant, like most chili peppers, likes neutral to mildly alkaline soil types.