On September 7th 2012, I attended the 17th annual Chili Pepper Festival, in Bowers PA. I had a great time listening to live music, browsing and sampling the pepper related wares of the vendors, trying unusual foods containing peppers, and picking my own peppers. I came home with several pounds of peppers, 2 pepper plants, a bottle of strawberry jalapeno wine, and a bag of cayenne pepper peanut brittle. I will definitely be going back next year, but I will plan better.
The highlight of the pepper festival was picking my own peppers on the field excursion at Meadow View Farm. There were thousands of pepper plants, and over 200 varieties, it was a bit overwhelming. With so many beautifully colorful peppers, it was difficult to choose which ones to pick, I wanted them all. There were sheets available listing the names of the peppers, where in the field to find them, their heat rating, and their price. The prices were great, $1.00 a pound for heavy or large hot peppers, $3.00 a pound for all other hot peppers.
The first thing I purchased at the festival was some pepper plants! I don’t remember who was selling them, but they were selling many different varieties of pepper plants, all edible, and all $15.00 each. I got two, a peach habanero, and a mystery plant that I felt like I needed because it’s so colorful! I should really figure out what the mystery plant is, they told me, but I forgot. The people selling the plants said that they will continue to grow and produce peppers throughout the year, and for many years to come, as long as I keep them indoors when it’s cold. I very excited about having peppers all year long!
There were many unusual foods, most of them containing peppers. There was pepper ice cream, pepper peanut brittle, many different kinds of stuffed peppers, jalapeno cheddar pirogies, a lot a chili, and so many more that I just can’t remember them all. I tried a couple different things, kielbasa chili, crabby stuffed peppers, and zucchini carrot pancakes, and some cayenne pepper peanut brittle. The kielbasa chili was very good, probably my favorite of all the foods there, but it was a bit more like a soup than a chili. Of course it was full of peppers, onions, beans, and usual chili spices, but contained pieces of sliced kielbasa in like a hot spicy chunky tomato base. I found the crappy stuffed peppers a bit disappointing. They were expensive for what you got, you got one small jalapeno pepper for $3.00, it was stuffed with cream cheese and crab meat, and smoked. The smoky flavor overpowered all of the other flavors, and I felt like there was too much cream cheese, and it was cold. I liked the zucchini carrot pancake a lot. It was like a potato pancake, but made with carrot and zucchini instead of potato. I purchased some cayenne pepper peanut brittle to take home, it’s not overpoweringly spicy like some of the things there were. I’m going to try to make some similar peanut brittle of my own.
I will definitely be attending the pepper festival next year, and hopefully I will be more organized. I am going to make a list of what varieties of peppers, and the quantity of each that I will be purchasing. I ended up making a whole bunch of jams and jellies, (I will be putting up pictures and recipes later) and drying whatever was leftover. Oh, and next year I’m bringing a real camera, fully charged.