One of the most commonly used peppers in Trinidad is a slender, pungent, yet not bitter (hot), one we have named the pimento. Our favourite seasoning pepper is probably the least understood and has remained basically unnamed. The pimento refers to Jamaica’s allspice or Hungary’s bright red pimento pepper used to stuff seedless green olives. Our pimento has the appearance of the Italian pepperoncini—but that pepper remains green, while ours matures to a bright red or orange.
All peppers originated in Central and South America and botanists believe our pimento is from the Amazon Basin area.
Christopher Columbus discovered peppers among the Amerindians and quickly explorers carried seeds to every corner of the tropical and temperate globe.
Scientifically, capsicum annuum covers every type of pepper, from the sweet bull nose bell pepper to the hotter chilli, and to the absolutely hottest Trinidad scorpion. Our pimento is qualified as “non-pungent” and although it is always present in Trinidad and some of the other eastern Caribbean islands, it is difficult to locate in other countries.
Hotter and spicier types of peppers have begun to dominate the world’s tastes. The East Indian chilli is crucial in their cuisine, just as our prized pimento is integral in our green sauce.
Our tasty pimento has become the subject of intellectual scientific arguments as to whether all peppers should be classified the same. It is obvious their taste buds must be non-functioning if they can’t tell the difference between a big, dark green, sweet bell, a smoking hot/bitter yellow Congo/Scotch Bonnet, or a savoury slender rainbow of pimentos.
The Net’s Wikipedia attributes Trinidad’s pimento’s botanical name of capsicum chinense, or Chinese capsicum, to Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin, a Dutch botanist who mistakenly named the species in 1776 because he believed the peppers originated in China. He obviously never made it to the Chaguanas market.
Our pimento is designed for our tastes, or our tastes crave the pimento. Whichever it is, the pimento is a great addition to every garden, whether grown in a container like a bucket, a small kitchen seasoning’s grow box or a traditional plot garden.
It can also be used as a decorative pepper plant, even accenting flower gardens.
Pimento pepper trees can grow up to more than a metre tall. I had one that grew for almost nine months and reached eight feet. Every two days, I picked more than a dozen peppers. The trick is giving the pimento space, plenty of sun with just enough water. With proper care, most container-grown pimentos can produce for at least six months.
The pimento is actually easy to grow, providing you get healthy seedlings without any brown spots on the leaves.
Over-watering is its biggest enemy. If you grow these seasoning peppers in suitable containers, you can move them to a dry area during heavy rains.
Whether container, grow box or plot planting, I recommend forking the soil, breaking it as fine as possible, mixing in some well-rotted chicken manure and about an eighth cup of lime per plant.
Mix everything, breaking down any clumps of dirt, and make a slight mound so that water will drain away from the roots. Be certain your containers have adequate drain holes.
You can raise pimento from seeds of a type you found tasty. First dry the seeds and put one or two in a small Styrotex cup with growing medium or fine soil.
A small family can use about two or three pimento trees.
At first, water every other day, but never drench the plants. The main pests of pimento are mites, and any garden shop can recommend an insecticide. I recommend spraying or drenching the roots weekly with a combination of Rizolex and Banrot.
Keep a close eye that this spraying or drenching does not uncover and erode the roots where the sun can burn and damage your plants.
These chemicals can be used to prevent root disease on almost every garden vegetable and they will dissipate by the time the vegetable bears.
Pimentos require adequate fertiliser, but too much will “burn” them. Use about a soda-bottle cap of 12-12-17-2 blue fertiliser and you should enjoy these tasty cooking peppers for quite a while. I recommend replanting just a few every three months to have a constant supply.
Four pimento peppers have about ten calories with little food value, except they add necessary Caribbean zest to most kitchen creations.
Medicinally, spicy peppers have been used to reduce indigestion and gas. Pimentos improve the stomach’s functions and there is no doubt their aroma and taste increase the appetite.
Peppers in general act as a stimulant to increase the circulation of blood, and work as an overall body systems tonic. These same seasoning peppers are reported to have hypoglycaemic properties.
PIMENTO STIR-FRY BEEF
• 6 pimento peppers, chopped
• 1 lb beef clod/steak, chopped into small pieces
• 1 cup vegetable broth
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 TBS oil for frying
• spices such as bay leaves, thyme and salt to taste
• In a deep frying pan, brown the beef in the oil. Add the broth, peppers, garlic, onion and spices.
• Bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat, covered, for an hour.
This is perfect for sandwiches. Serve on toasted hops, garnished with lettuce and tomato, and perhaps a
slice of cheddar.
• 1 dozen pimentos, sort of big, various colours, seeded
• 2 oz cream cheese
• 1 medium onion, minced
• pinch ground chilli pepper
• Parmesan cheese
• Split the side of the pimento and remove the seeds.
• Combine all other ingredients until it forms a thick paste.
• Carefully fill the cavity of the pimento, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
• On a suitable tray, put in a 350°F oven for 4 to 6