Since the 18th century, chili has been grown in Sweden. Kerstin Rosengren has been solely specializing in the cultivation of this exotic fruit for about twelve years. "I was shown a picture of the Black Scorpion Tongue (capsicum annuum) and thought: I want to cultivate it," she says.
Twelve years ago Kerstin Rosengren fell in love with the chili pepper. She started growing it in a few pots, and expanded it progressively. At first she was only searching for that beautiful lilac pepper, until she discovered the enormous diversity in varieties. "I now cultivate more than three hundred varieties. There are five to six hundred stable varieties and 20,000 to 30,000 hybrids."
She has written down her knowledge in a book: Chili, 222 sorter att odla och äta (Chili peppers, 222 varieties for cultivating and eating, published in Swedish by Bonnier Fakta - ed.) "In the past there was mainly a demand for the strongest varieties, the Carolina Reaper, but now there is a broader interest in the extensive taste palette," Kerstin says. She went to visit Ed Currie, the grower of the Carolina Reaper, in the USA several times. He tries to cultivate an even stronger pepper, in the hope that it can be used to fight cancer.
Five important species
- Chili or Capsicum annuum, with varieties such as Jalapeño, Cayenne, Padron, Poblano and the common pepper.
- Capsicum Baccatum or Aji.
- Capsicum chinense, with the Habanero, some Ajis, the British Dorset Naga, and the hottest chili pepper so far, the Carolina Reaper.
- Capsicum frutescens, with the Tabasco peppers and Piri Piri.
- Capsicum pubescens or rocoto, the least common type.