Often grown for their brightly colored fruits, ornamental peppers are the same species of peppers (Capsicum annuum) that provide us with hot and sweet peppers. But are ornamental peppers edible? Can you eat them?
Yes, you can eat ornamental peppers; they’re as edible as every other pepper you’re used to. But it’s worth noting that most of them are too hot to really enjoy their flavors – and their leaves are toxic to both humans and pets.
You can cook ornamental peppers with spices such as garlic and ginger to give soups and even stews excellent taste.
In general, you can use ornamental peppers in cooking anytime a hot spice is required, alongside chili.
Types of Ornamental Peppers
Ornamental peppers come in different varieties, which include:
Medusa ornamental peppers
Dwarf medusa is ideal for containers; it grows just about 6 to 8 inches tall. This variety produces long-lasting, upright, sweet fruits safe for a children’s garden.
These peppers are twisty, which may remind you of the medusa snake-like hairdo.
Black pearl ornamental peppers
Black pearls were the first black-leafed ornamental peppers on the market. The plants should be better used in mixed beds or containers so the glossy foliage can really stand out. It is beautifully grown alongside plants with silver, blue or yellow foliage flowers.
Chilly chili ornamental peppers
Just like the medusa peppers, this flower is not pungent and can be suitable for children’s gardens. The fruits start out greenish-yellow and gradually turn orange or dark red in color. Chilly chili is about 9 to 10 inches tall.
Purple flash ornamental pepper
Purple flash has small, round, black fruits that are extremely hot and unsuitable for children’s playgrounds. It is also not recommended for eating purposes. Its foliage is really dark with hints of purple.
Other ornamental pepper types worth mentioning are:
- Tangerine dream ornamental pepper
- Aurora ornamental pepper
- Sangria ornamental pepper
- Chines 5-color pepper
- Cajun bell pepper
Are Ornamental Peppers Edible?
Like I mentioned earlier, ornamental peppers are very much edible as they are not poisonous and are sometimes grown to be eaten.
However, because these peppers are very hot and mostly grown for their bright colors, their taste might be disappointing.
What Does Ornamental Peppers Taste Like?
Since ornamental peppers are bred for their aesthetics, flavors are somewhat secondary. Their heat is often intense surprisingly, while peppery in flavor, there’s often not a lot of nuances in the flavor.
Again, they are grown for their beautiful looks, not to enhance their unique flavor traits.
Furthermore, you will discover that ornamental peppers don’t have the most complex pepper flavor, but their punch of heat is found to work incredibly well in foods with complementing flavors such as salsas.
They also work well when properly dried and grounded into hot pepper flakes. Therefore, if spice isn’t your thing, don’t dismiss the idea of incorporating the fruits into your dishes!
What Can I Do with Ornamental Peppers?
You can cook them as you would, along with garlic as a spicy base. These lovely veggies enhance the flower garden and vase as much as they do our recipes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Ornamental Peppers Taste Good?
Ornamental peppers taste good, but their taste might be quite disappointing. Most people consider them too hot to enjoy the authentic flavors. This can be justified as they were not grown to be eaten but are normally grown for their attractive colors. Peppers grown for culinary use produce better fruits for eating.
Do Ornamental Peppers Come Back Every Year?
As ornamental pepper can be grown as perennials in USDA growing zones, they are typically grown as annuals. Although summer and autumn are the perfect times to grow them, they will grow year-round if kept under the right conditions.
Are Ornamental Peppers Poisonous?
Ornamental peppers are not poisonous, but you absolutely must keep small children from eating these peppers as they may be too hot for them to handle. Still, they can be used in preparing dishes in minimal quantities.
Can You Eat Ornamental Thai Peppers?
Yes, the fruits are edible, although they are extremely hot. Thai ornamental hot peppers have a Scoville of 50,000 to 100,000. A tiny portion of Thai ornamental peppers is enough to flavor most cuisines. You can dry and ground Thai peppers into a powder to flavor curries and salsas.
How Long Do Ornamental Peppers Last?
You can expect ornamental peppers to produce fruits for up to 6 weeks. It will not bear fruits again and is usually treated as temporary house plants and discarded after the peppers have dried up.
Do Deer Eat Ornamental Peppers?
Deer do not eat ornamental hot peppers as they try their best to avoid sweet peppers; they only occasionally avoid green peppers. One way to protect your gardens from deer is to plant vegetables that deer do not eat and also fence the gardens, so these animals do not have access to it.
Are Ornamental Peppers Toxic to Dogs?
The ornamental peppers are very toxic to dogs due to their solanine content, a poison found in tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes. They are part of the nightshade family, which is known to cause serious intestinal disorders and central nervous system damages.
Can You Eat Sangria Ornamental Peppers?
These peppers are edible, but they are not typically grown for their flavors like most ornamental peppers. Young sangria peppers appear green but march onto a glorious, excellent parade color- orange, purple, and finally red.
Can You Eat Medusa?
As a culinary chili, the low heat sweetness makes the medusa pepper a sweet substitute to bell peppers in many recipes. You can try them fresh in salads and soups or grilled for use in sandwiches.
Ornamental peppers are very nice for aesthetic purposes, but for eating, you should try checking out other culinary peppers that are less in heat as children might not like the taste of foods with too much peppers.
But if used in minimal quantities, they might be a bit suitable for eating. Some good examples of culinary peppers include bell peppers, green peppers, banana peppers, and even pimento pepper.
Eat whatever you want as long as you enjoy it, and it doesn’t affect your health.