Peppadew cottage industry

A peppadew cottage industry is only for those who love fresh spices and have no aversion to, hat on head working out in the midday-sun and pottering in the kitchen.

Our family has a long history going back more than 20 years with peppadews; they are a chilli with all the marvellous flavour of hot-capsicum but much less of the heat.

Generally sweet paprikas tend to be a bit anaemic and chillis are red hot; they burn your tongue, stomach and tomorrow your rear-end. But peppadews are a wonderful compromise; lots of the piquant flavour but little of the terror and plenty of capsaicin, the magic ingredient.

Plump red peppadews.

They are for me the queen of the peppers but I never see them for sale. If you are looking for a small challenge why not consider taking the gap? There is money to be made by the entrepreneur and they are easy to grow. They thrive on compost, manure and worm-wee. No toxic chemical sprays are needed and we have little trouble from pests. 

There are at least six-ways to make money out of peppadews.

Sell them as fresh fruit

Selling them as fresh fruit will command a price at least as good as sweet-peppers and I would suggest with careful marketing a good deal more. Organic food has greater value; it is worth a little extra.

Preserving peppadews

Preserving peppadews is so easy. The good-wife does it all the time; vinegar and a little sugar.

Freezing peppadews

Freezing peppadews is certainly my first choice out of season; it’s the least schlepp. We have a six-months supply waiting to be enjoyed.

Dried peppadews

Dry your peppadews and turn them into flakes or a powder. I do this but it is does take 20-odd hours in the drier; have you got free solar electricity?

Sell the seeds

There's a market for peppadew seeds. Spread them out on newspaper to dry; there are hundreds in each pod.

Sell the seedlings

Tiny peppadew seedlings

There is certainly a market for your peppadew seedlings.

Stuffed peppadews

We have friends who stuff their peppadews with feta cheese and other fillings. They bottle them and export them at great profit.

A bucketful of peppadews.

Peppadews are one of my absolute favourite foods. We eat them virtually every day throughout the seasons. From late summer right through autumn for about five months we enjoy them raw on our salads and gently fried in butter in Eggs-Hilton. For the rest of the year they are consumed either pickled, frozen or as dried flakes.

This peppadew sauce is a new addition to our armamentarium; it's fermented to give extra flavour and reduce the influence of so-called antinutrients. It is a natural probiotic.

Lockdown has meant time to experiment; we have been drying them and producing a pepper powder that is without equal. I never realised how much flavour is lost from oxidation in the spices one purchases in bottles. Sprinkled on Eggs Florentine or into freshly-made hummus it’s a treat. 

After citrus they are the second richest source of vitamin-C, one of the four important nutrients that help prevent frailty syndrome; and not inconsequentially at this time virus attacks.

They are rich in a phytochemical called capsaicin that is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory agent; and they turn an otherwise rather dull lettuce salad or dinner into a delight. What more could one want?

Each plant takes up about a square metre and would give you at least 100 fruit. They do need to be staked as the peppers are very heavy; otherwise they do not ripen properly and will not turn bright-red. They continue to bear for several seasons but the yield drops after the second year. We have perhaps 20 plants at our green home; they provide a riot of colour and wonderful nutrition.

Perhaps the most tiresome part is cutting the fruit open and removing the seeds prior to processing; it is time-consuming.

The seeds can be very hot. That is where much of the capsaicin is to be found though; getting a steady supply of anti-inflammatory substances from our food is what reduces the anger in our muscles and joints.

So we only remove the seeds from about half the peppadews. An apple-corer will make your life easier.

The bucket shown contains nearly 2 kilogrammes and about 150 of the fruit. At a local supermarket ordinary peppers sell for over R60/kg. A quick calculation gives them a retail value of nearly a million rand per hectare.

There is money to be made from a cottage industry of peppadews; but only for those not afraid of the midday sun and have no desire to spend their lives sitting behind a computer. Selling them at a farmers’ market or REKO should be a breeze.

Growing peppadews has been a lot of fun; the taste of your own freshly-made spice is to die for.


Gochugaru is the name given by Koreans to chili flakes. Halve and destalk the peppers; then dry them in a cool oven for a whole day with the fan switched on.

Divide them into threes; one with no seeds, another with some and the third with all of them.

Grind them and store in sealed-bags in the freezer.

We use gochugaru in making kimchi and sauerkraut.

Ground dried peppadews.

Peppadew cottage industry

Peppadew cottage industry could make you a few bob on the side.

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56 Groenekloof Rd,

Hilton, KZN

South Africa