Beaver Dam Chile Peppers
Inventory, lb : 0
Beaver Dam chile peppers are large, measuring 15 to 23 centimeters long and up to 6 centimeters wide. They have broad shoulders and large ribs with a tapered shape that may curve as it lengthens. The peppers mature from a bright, lime green to deep red, and can be harvested at any stage of maturity. The firm peppers have a crunchy texture and a flavor that is slightly sweet with the mild pungency of a pimento pepper. When eaten at the green stage, they are flavor forward with spice at the back end. Beaver Dam chile peppers are given a rating of 700 Scoville Heat Units.
Beaver Dam chile peppers are available in the summer and fall months.
Beaver Dam chile peppers are a European heirloom variety of Capsicum annuum. They were brought to the United States by Hungarian immigrants over 100 years ago and were named for the town where they were first grown. The pepper might have faded into obscurity had it not been for the efforts of the The Scrumptious Pantry owner, Lee Greene. In 2012, with help from Slow Food of Southeast Wisconsin, she organized centennial celebrations for the pepper in Chicago and Milwaukee. The Beaver Dam chile pepper’s flavor, heritage, and scarcity earned it a spot on Slow Food’s Ark of Taste.
Beaver Dam chile peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C and a very good source of vitamins B6 and A. They contain flavonoids that have beneficial antioxidant properties and essential nutrients like niacin, riboflavin and thiamin. The peppers contain minerals like potassium, manganese, iron and copper. Spicy peppers contain capsaicin, which gives the peppers their heat. Research shows the compound has anti-carcinogenic, anti-bacterial, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties.
Beaver Dam chile peppers are used both raw and cooked. The spiciness will mellow out in cooked applications, while still maintaining the flavor of the pepper. They can be roasted or grilled whole, stuffed with meats, cheeses, rice or quinoa. Julienned peppers can be added to salads, or stir-fry. Add chopped Beaver Dam chile peppers to pastas, soups, stews, or Hungarian goulash. Slice widthwise into rings and add to sandwiches or pizzas. They can be pickled, or dried and crushed into chile flake. Beaver Dam chile peppers can be frozen to preserve. Store at room temperature for up to a week, refrigerate for up to two weeks.
Beaver Dam chile peppers are included in Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, a collection of more than 800 foods in danger of extinction. Lee Greene of The Scrumptious Pantry found the Beaver Dam chile pepper listed on their site and chose them as the ingredient for her first product, pickled peppers. She found a farmer just 10 miles from the town of Beaver Dam, who was growing a few plants. Since 2011, Greene has made it a personal project to increase the pepper’s popularity by pairing with chefs and restaurants and holding Beaver Dam chile pepper celebrations. The pepper is lauded as one of the success stories of Slow Food’s project, having revitalized its popularity in the state where it was first grown.
Beaver Dam chile peppers were first brought to the United States in 1912 by the Hussli family, who immigrated to Wisconsin from Hungary. They settled in the town of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, 75 miles northeast of Milwaukee. There, the family cultivated the spicy, red peppers and shared them with friends and family in the area. Over time, local farmers grew the pepper and called it Beaver Dam after its hometown. After the 1950s when, easier to grow, hybrid pepper varieties became more popular with farmers and the Beaver Dam chile pepper fell out of favor. Due to the efforts of Lee Greene, the residents of Beaver Dam rediscovered the namesake pepper. The local Chamber of Commerce holds an annual festival in September to celebrate the pepper’s local connection and its history. Festival activities include the biggest pepper contest, an apple pepper pie eating contest and chili cook-off. Beaver Dam chile peppers can be spotted at local stores in Milwaukee and nearby Chicago and may be spotted at farmer’s markets through local growers.