Q&A Beaver Dam Pepper

Q&A Beaver Dam Pepper

Oh my pepperazzi has there has been a lot of coverage on the Beaver Dam Pepper this month! The pepper has been discussed on two radio stations, AM1170 WFDL and Wisconsin Public Radio, mentioned in in the news locally and out of state, been the topic of conversation at a Friends of Real Food event, featured in a cooking demonstration at the South Shore Farmers’ Market & Fondy Farmers’ Market, and there’s still more to come!

Here are the answers to some of the questions we have gotten about this fantastic pepper!

What is the Beaver Dam Pepper? Where did it come from?

The Beaver Dam Pepper (or BDP for short) is a rare heirloom varietal brought to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin by the Hussli Family in 1912. The Hussli’s were Hungarian immigrants and brought this special vegetable with them in order to grow it in the new country.

What does it taste like? Is it spicy?

The pepper is a very large pepper about 9 inches in size that can be sweet and also slightly spicy. The spiciness tends to build over time and will linger slightly.

How do you grow it?

In Wisconsin, it’s best to plant the seeds indoors, about ¼” deep, 8 weeks before the last frost (late March, early April). Peppers germinate best in warm soil, so gentle bottom heat may be helpful until seedlings emerge. Once the soil is warm (end of May, early June), it’s time to transplant your precious seedlings. Find a sunny area outdoors and dig small holes for each of your BDP seedlings 1.5 to 2 feet apart. Put a little compost (such as Purple Cow) in the bottom of the hole. Then place your BDP seedlings and mound the soil slightly around it.  Eventually the plants will need to be trellised to support their large size. The peppers are ripe and ready to be picked when they turn red.

Read more tips on growing peppers (and tomatoes and eggplants) in Wisconsin here, from the University of Wisconsin – Extension.

Where can I get Beaver Dam Pepper seeds?

Seeds can be purchased through Seed Savers Exchange. Also check with your local gardener to see if they supply them. Some may also supply the seedlings. Additionally, stay tuned in Spring 2014 for information on our next Ark of Taste Grow Out. We likely will be growing out more BDP seedlings for you!

Is the Beaver Dam Pepper on the Ark of Taste? What is the Ark of Taste?

Yes, the Beaver Dam Pepper is on the Slow Food Ark of Taste list as an almost extinct varietal. The Ark of Taste in the USA is a catalog of over 200 delicious foods in danger of extinction. By promoting and eating Ark products we help ensure they remain in production and on our plates. Read more about the Ark of Taste here or view Jennifer Casey’s presentation given on our September 11th Friends of Real Food Potluck here.

What are some ways to cook the Beaver Dam Pepper?

The BDP can be enjoyed in many ways! Raw, cooked, or preserved!

Here are some ideas:

  • goulash – click here for some original Hungarian Goulash recipes
  • raw with hummus
  • in a stir fry
  • in a grilled cheese sandwich
  • roasted on the grill
  • creamy chicken pepper sauce over rice or noodles (onions, garlic, beaver dam peppers, cream and chicken)
  • make your own Beaver Dam pepper pickles! Visit Lisa Kingery’s Local Global Kitchen website for information on How to Can Safely. **Note: Always follow the proper canning steps and use a research-tested recipe to prevent food-borne illnesses.**

Have some other ideas or recipes you’d like to share? Comment below or email them to Amy at agiffin@slowfoodwise.org to post on our blog!

Where can I purchase Beaver Dam Peppers without having to grow them myself?

Ask around at your local farmers’ market. You can also purchase preserved BDPs from the Scrumptious Pantry. In Milwaukee, they are available at Glorioso’s Italian Market.

What events are occurring in September that feature the Beaver Dam Pepper?

View all the events on our Events Page.

Have any other questions about the Beaver Dam Pepper that you would like answered?

Post your questions below or email them to Amy Giffin at agiffin@slowfoodwise.org

Amy Giffin
This post was written by
Amy Giffin was raised in Kohler, Wisconsin and has always had a love for cooking and eating delicious and healthful food. She followed her passion by obtaining a degree in Nutritional Science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2009 and then moved to Milwaukee in 2010 to complete a dietetic internship through Mount Mary College. She now is a SouthEast Wisconsin Master Gardener Volunteer and Registered Dietitian.

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