The Datil Pepper

By: Jerry Delany

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I was born and raised in the Nations Oldest City, St. Augustine, Fl. and my Minorcan heritage dates back to 1540 to Menorca Spain.

I was requested by the owner of the web site,, Ernest Jones (distant cousin on our Andreu side) to write a story about the "Datil Peppers. We use them in just about everything we cook, my favorite is sausage pilau. We refer to the pepper as the Minorcan Datil Pepper but I'm not sure it came from Menorca Spain.

Let's start with what the datil pepper plant (bush) looks like and explain a little about it. Every Minorcan Family in St. Augustine has one or more datil pepper plants,,,we use the peppers in just about everything we cook.

I want to show you what the datil pepper plant looks like and give you information along with pictures.
Notice the small white flower blooms,,,that is the first stage of the development of a mature datil pepper. Look close and you will see hundreds of bloom,,,future datil peppers. They are easy to grow but there are a few things you should know. You can start a plant from one or more of the seeds taken from the inside of a mature pepper but there is no guarantee it will sprout. The best way is to purchase a pepper "set" from a grower or feed store. We have people that have green houses with controlled conditions that grow beautiful sets. The "set" will usually be 5 to 6 inch tall and you can either plant it in the ground or a five gallon bucket with drilled holes in the bottom,,,,I like the bucket the best. It will take about three to four months for the bloom to appear and then about two weeks for a mature pepper.

The bush requires much direct sunlight,,,at least 4 hours per day and it will look wilted and required watering every other day. You should fertilize it with milorganite about every 2 to 3 weeks. I will give you some notes later in the article as to the care necessary during the winter months.

If you are not familiar in using Datil Peppers for your seasoning, I suggest you be very careful in handling them and the amount you use. The peppers give the foods a delicious flavoring with a little Kick. The Kick can be mild, hot, hotter to Blazing. Depending on how many peppers you use and I suggest starting off on the mild side.

You will notice the pepper seeds in the picture above. I opened a half matured pepper to show the seeds. The orange colored pepper is fully matured. From just one pepper bush you will get as many as 80 to 100 peppers. We take the peppers and place them in a zip lock bag and freeze them until we are ready to use some of them. We use both the green and orange colored peppers.

You can look on the Internet and type in "datil pepper". You will find many places where you can purchase datil pepper items as well as recipes for cooking. My cousin Donald uses the peppers with peanuts. You can look up Rogero Farms as one means of using the peppers. We use them in seasoning dried lima beans, all types of pilau's, clam chowder, fish chowder, sauces and dips. You should be able to get two years growth from a plant especially if you grow the plant in a bucket. During the winter months just protect it like you would any of your delicate blooming plants and by November or December fertilize and care for it and put it in the sun with water.

This picture will show and demonstrate the stages of growth. I have to tell you again to be careful in handling the peppers. Following my taking the pictures and handling the peppers I washed my hands three times. I later put my fingers to my mouth and my lips started burning from the pepper juices,,so be careful.

Do a little research on the internet for more information about Datil Peppers and Recipe's