Carolina Reaper Pepper Harvest

We just had our first snowstorm:
Snowstorm 11-03-2013 A
With a hard freeze coming this morning.
So I thought it best to harvest the Carolina Reaper peppers from the high tunnel. These are from seeds planted in two batches: 12-05-2012 (see early blog postings) and 3-12-2013. Plants from the later batch nearly caught up with the earlier in terms of size and production. Both reached around 6 ft. tall in the high tunnel and put out about 10 pods per plant. Those planted in the open field, however, reached only about 2 ft. tall and produced nothing before frost stopped them.

Two basic pod forms:

Stinger –

Pepper, Carolina Reaper 11-03-2013 B revPepper, Carolina Reaper 11-03-2013 F revPepper, Carolina Reaper 11-03-2013 D rev

And “standard” pod –

Pepper, Carolina Reaper 11-03-2013 H revPepper, Carolina Reaper 11-03-2013 I rev

Heat level?? Indescribably intense. An explosion of pain with violent physiological responses, then it’s like trying to survive a terrible nightmare that just seems like it will never end while the heat very slowly subsides over 30 minutes or so. You’ve gotta have a streak of masochism to even try this one – that or you don’t have the same taste buds and heat receptors that I have!

Seeds are ready for sending.  See:

= = = = = = = = = =

Update, 11-10-2013

Yesterday it took me nearly three hours to extract seeds from 75 pods, each with about 6-15 seeds.  This is insanity!  I purchased two boxes (2 sizes) of vinyl gloves and two high-quality dust masks.  With two pair of gloves my hands were over 90% protected from the capsaicin oil.  The insides of the pods were very slippery, almost dripping with capsaicin oil.  One layer of vinyl absolutely is not enough for these super-hot peppers –  I’ll wear three next time.

So I made the mistake of setting the pair of scissors I was using on my pant leg, then leaning my arm against the same spot.  It took me a very short time to realize that was a bad decision.  Now, 36 hours later, my leg still burns (the oil had no trouble seeping through thick cotton) and my arm still burns.  Even after vigorous cleaning.  But this is nothing compared to the fumes!

The entire house became permeated by fumes and everybody was coughing.  I had to close up the processing room.  Worse, much worse, even after processing and leaving the area, I continued to cough violently for more than an hour before it occurred to me that all my clothing was contaminated.  My neck muscles, throat and diaphragm are still sore from the worst coughing fit I’ve ever experienced.  And I’ve been through almost an entire box of tissue paper.  I still have to wear a dust mask to even be able to enter the processing room.  Doorknobs and such might be contaminated for weeks.

Then there was the fleck of Bhut Jolokia pod that flipped up into my eye a few days ago while I was packaging seeds.  Tough to describe the sensation – think gasoline in your eye!

Note to self for next year when processing Carolina Reaper pods

  • Do not cut pods indoors
  • Use a fan if need to assure excellent air circulation
  • Wear 3 pairs of vinyl gloves
  • Use a better dust mask
  • Wear goggles
  • Wear full protective hazmat disposable clothing
  • Immediately clean all tools and surfaces
  • Dry seeds outside of living areas

I’ve processed several batches of Bhut Jolokia seeds over the past couple of years.  Those were bad enough.  But Carolina Reaper takes processing hot peppers to a whole new level of suffering!  What am I, insane or something?

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