A pile of datil peppers
What Are Datil Peppers And Why Are They So Special To St. Augustine, FL?
From mild bell peppers to the tongue-numbing Pepper X, peppers are usually defined by their heat level, but the rare datil pepper is unique for balancing sweet and heat.
Bright reddish-orange and tiny, datil peppers are a spicy, sweet pepper that has grown almost exclusively in St. Augustine, Florida since the late 1800s.
It’s most likely that the datil pepper came from Chile with South American businessman S.B. Vallas, who set up his pepper jelly trade in St. Augustine in 1880.
In terms of spiciness, the datil ranks closely to the habanero, ranging from 100,000 to 300,000 on the Scoville scale, but this is balanced by a fruity sweetness.
Since they're not overwhelmingly hot, datil peppers are very versatile. For less spice, remove the white pith inside the peppers, wearing gloves and goggles to shield your eyes.
The datil pepper is commonly used in the cuisine of Florida’s Minorcan population, from clam chowder to a rice dish called pilau. It also makes a great hot sauce.
Fresh datil peppers are rare to find outside of St. Augustine, and they're an emblem of the city. You may be able to find datil sauces or jellies in stores, or grow your own.