I thought it might be fun and helpful to do a few 'suggest your favorite' type posts for different vegetables. When someone's first trying to get started, there's an endless stream of which plants to grow (carrots, leaf lettuce, etc), but if we're honest, that narrows it down to several dozen or even several hundred options. (I'm looking at you tomatoes!) Those of us who've had a chance to grow a number of varieties often find ourselves drawn to one or two varieties specifically that we return to every year. If you have a favorite pepper or two, why not suggest them and explain what it is about them that makes them your favorite. Of course, I will go first since I'm opening the show.
Sweet Peppers: Gypsy Queen
So what is it about this pepper that puts it at the top of my list? I worked for several years in a greenhouse. I like peppers well enough and use green peppers and sweet peppers regularly enough in my cooking. That said, I honestly could take or leave them in many cases. They added texture and a bit of flavor, but if they were missing I wasn't going to shed any tears. Being a greenhouse, everything was raised with hydroponics. Sure, the plants grew in a soil medium, but it didn't contribute anything to them. All they got was the big three in terms of nutrients. We mostly sold small starter packs, but also grew out some larger pots with tomatoes, peppers, and similar vegetables.
As you can imagine, they generally tasted pretty basic. On par with a lot of what you find in grocery stores. Peppers would taste bland to mildly sweet at best. Still, I hate waste and one of my jobs was to remove any fully ripe fruits so that they wouldn't fall and rot. In some cases, this also encouraged further production which encouraged sales. Rather than pitching things, I was allowed to take them home. The final year I worked there, the owners began growing something called a gypsy pepper. It was a hybrid that could be picked at yellow stage and beyond. I found that at yellow stage, it was as sweet as the best sweet pepper, but at red stage, it was nearly candy sweet. This shocked me considering (as I said before) they didn't have any nutrients beyond the basic 3 needed to look good and grow well.
When I bought one and planted it, it became even better! I loved it. However, I make a point of generally favoring open pollinated plants and the hybrid nature of it meant it could be snatched away any year by a company that didn't feel like carrying it anymore. I decided that I would dehybridize it once I had more than a porch garden to work with. Several years had passed and I didn't even have access to a porch garden anymore when I discovered a company had beaten me to the punch. Redubbed the Gypsy Queen, it was most of the way to a stable variety with the flavor trait I loved so much. Once I have a full garden again, I doubt I will dedicate a lot of space to peppers, but this one is going to be taking up the majority of that space. Zucchini relish just isn't the same with any other pepper and it's a real stand-out on my salads.
I'm still searching on this one. I use hot sauce for a few things, but don't have much use for hot peppers beyond that. I'm mostly unaffected by an average hot pepper and don't particularly crave spicy in my foods. More than anything, I will generally use hot peppers as a deterrent for pests by making it into solutions that can be sprayed on other plants. Still, since I do use hot sauces in a few dishes, I am on the lookout for a good pepper to ferment and turn into homemade hot sauce. It would also need to be a variety that makes a decent chili powder. So far, I'm favoring the more decorative varieties like the Chinese 5-color or the Fish Pepper, since they would be nice for landscaping and still bring some heat and flavor. There's a lot of options and since I have so little use for hot peppers, it will take me a long time to go through and find the right one for me. Maybe some of the favorites of others will inspire me to try a variety that ends up making my list.