The Q&A Archives: Mild peppers supposed to be hot

Question: My chili peppers were supposed to be hot, but after I cooked them they tasted quite mild. It's the same hot variety I usually grow. What happened? Lean Smith Topanga, CA

Answer: Either your peppers were mislabled - at the seed company or in the nursery - or the growing conditions produced a milder pepper. Nursery plants labeled simply chili peppers may look similar to the one you have been growing but are actually mild varieties, such as 'Anaheim TMR'. Environmental factors while the peppers are ripening can also cause a noticeable decline in pungency. The chemical that makes peppers hot - capsaicin - is produced in larger quantities when temperatures are above 80 F during the day and above 60 F at night during ripening, and when the plant is stressed for water or fertilizer. If the weather becomes cool as the fruits are maturing, place a floating row cover over the plants to keep night temperatures higher. Also, stop fertilizing once fruits have set and cut back on watering as the fruits mature.

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