The lemon drop chili pepper, also known as Aji Limon, Aji Lemo, or Hot Lemon, is a spicy but citrusy flavored chili pepper, whose lemon taste has made it a popular food seasoning in Peru (where it is known as qillu uchu.
This pepper is a member of the baccatum species and has a very distinctive appearance. Perhaps predictable off the back of its name – these chilies are bright, lemony yellow when ripe, with some crinkling of the flesh.
It has a cone shape and is around 60 mm long and 12 mm wide. Intriguingly, they have fewer seeds than other regular chili peppers of the same size, containing only 15 seeds on average.
The chili’s mother pant can grow up to 2 m in height in their first year. The leaves of the plant are dark green and shaped like pointed ovals. Flower petals are white, with greenish yellow spots at the base.
Lemon drop chilies are a high-yielding chili plant, with each plant able to produce a crop of over 100 fruits in just one season. The time between fertilization and the production of ripe, edible fruit is around 80 days.
These are rated as shaving a fairly hot taste, ranging from 15,000 to 30,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) on the Scoville Scale, depending on the pepper’s growing conditions.
They are more than their Scoville scale rating – in addition to packing a fair punch, they are also full of flavor complexity – they have a sparkling citrus flavor, reminiscent of lemon and finger limes.
Due to their citrusy notes, these chili peppers do perform best when paired with similar bright and almost acidic flavors. Hence, consider adding them to dishes that already contain vinegar, garlic, and coriander in partnership with white meats, fish, or curry sauces.
As with many herbs, spices, and seasoning, these peppers do being to lose the strength of flavor if they are overcooked, so either keep cooking to a minimum or add the chili peppers later in the cooking process.
In ground, dried or powdered forms, these chilies can be used in soup, sprinkled over chips, fries, pizza, or popcorn.
They can be added to all the usual places that you’d used chili peppers, from curries to stir-fries to salsa. You can make them into a delicious dipping sauce and chutney.