November Column: Upton Cheyney Chilli Company

Published on: 09 Nov 2012

November Column: Upton Cheyney Chilli Company

This really has been a strange weather year, and to avoid frost damage we were forced to close the doors on the polytunnels in October – earlier than ever before. Using bananas to speed up ripening

Late October saw the first frost of the winter (and snow in some parts of the country – a once in 50 years occurrence), which is not good for chillies. Fortunately, with the doors shut, the tunnels remain frost free, although this early cold spell is not good news as we still have many thousands of unripe pods that are waiting to be harvested.

As a means to accelerate the maturing of the pods, we have gone to extreme measures, hacking away at the leaves on the plants to allow extra sunlight (!) to flood in, as well as the good old banana trick where we place out of date bananas near the pods. The bananas release ethylene gas which will help – although this is a desperate measure as we need many thousands of bananas to have a real impact.

Most chillies will start green before maturing to either red, yellow, orange, black or indeed brown – often referred to as chocolate. Be aware, however, there is no chocolate flavour! Some chillies do, however, start life in other colours, including purple and even black. Examples of immature black pods can still be seen in our Bart Ingredients tunnel where their mono-crop of Hungarian Blacks look stunning.

Last year we were fortunate with the weather and were harvesting up until the last weeks of December. Fingers crossed for lots of sunshine over the next few weeks!

Outside harvesting, we are really pleased to have added a new product range to our line. In conjunction with local farmers Bath Harvest, we now offer two different flavoured rapeseed oils. An absolutely delicious Oak Smoked Chipotle and a wickedly hot Bhut Jolokia (ghost chilli) version. Outside of the chilli genre, they offer a variety of flavours and, keeping in line with our product range, we will also be selling their garlic version.

If you visit Manor Farm on a weekday over the next few days, you may well be blessed with the aroma of chilli sauce in manufacture. We are in full production as we prepare stock for the busy Christmas markets. We are thoroughly looking forward to exhibiting at Keynsham’s Victorian evening on November 30 and look forward to seeing some of you there. If you can’t wait till then, Manor Farm’s Christmas Market is on November 23 in our Tithe Barn.

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