Chris takes us to Tomatero Farms in Watsonville, California where they are growing organic Shishimai peppers. Their process is organic, over plastic and under hoophouses. Chris explains how and when to harvest Shishimai and gives us some pointers for getting the most from our plants.
Shishimai is a Solanaceae flowering plant, unique because it has both male and female organs in the same flower. It can be pollinated easily, by bees or wind. It is a very robust plant that will continue to flower as it produces fruit.
Shishimai should be harvested when they reach about 3 inches in length. If you wait too long to harvest, it will eventually turn red and its Scoville heat units could increase. The Scoville scale provides a range of hotness for peppers, measured by the amount of capsaicin it contains. Shishimai are not spicy hot peppers, they are sweet and smoky with a more intense flavor than bell peppers but not as strong as a jalapeño.
Harvesting Shishimai is easy, but it is important to continuously harvest so that it keeps producing. When harvesting, remove the tassel from the stem of plant, not the fruit.
You can increase your yields by asking, “What is the plant doing?”
It’s trying to reproduce itself by setting seeds. Seeds are in the fruit. The fruit came from flowers. In order to bring on more flowers you need to harvest the fruit. If you do not continuously harvest the fruit, plant productivity and flower set will slow down.
If you remove Shishimai from the plant, it will tell itself to continue to produce flowers and you will be rewarded with a larger, longer harvest. Remember to get the Shishimai fruit off of your plant so that it will continuously create flowers. This will allow your plant to produce for weeks on end. When your Shishimai are ready to be eaten, check out our recipes here!