Pimiento de Padron is the traditional tapas chilli from Galicia in Northwest Spain, where the young green fruit are harvested when about 5cm long. At this stage, the seeds are soft and the skin tender, and the fruit are fried in olive oil, sprinkled with a little salt and eaten whole, seeds and all. Though they are usually mild, a hot one occasionally sneaks in, creating a culinary game of Russian roulette.
Left on the plant, the fruit will eventually grow to about 3 x 10cm, turning from green to red as they mature. At this stage, the fruit are thin-fleshed, quite hot and useful as a spice.
The large plants come on early, and we have seen them growing outside as far north as Worksop in Nottinghamshire. They are, however, better suited to a tunnel or greenhouse, where they should go in the ground rather than in a container. As a last resort, however, they could be grown in a large pot or growbag.
Approximate heat level: Immature fruit – the stage they are used in tapas – are almost heatless; mature fruit are 12,000 SHU.