I’m on a constant quest to find a chilli that tastes as good as a habanero with it’s beautiful fruity tang but not quite a much heat. Havana gold is touted by the seed catalogues as being such a chilli but does it live up to its reputation?
It is an Aji chilli with a Scoville rating of 500-2000 which puts it in the medium heat category. Aji’s originate from South America and Caribbean, they are a touch easier to grow than the habanero which can in a poor summer fail to fruit in the UK. The fruits of Havana Gold are about thumb sized and it is one of the most productive chillies I have ever grown.
But what about the taste? Does it stack up to the habanero? I think the answer to that is nearly. It does have a nice, fresh, citrus taste. It’s not too hot which means you do get to appreciate its flavour. However it doesn’t have the big fruity punch that a hab gives you. However as I had over 120 Havana Golds this year and no habanero I’ll definitely be growing Havana Gold again.
I snuck a bit of a cheeky first in the local village show for my offering of three Havana Gold. Really they should have been submitted as yellow for best effect, rather than the more immature white green but I didn’t have three matching yellows.
In the kitchen
Havana Gold is around 500-2000 on the Scoville range which puts it about the same level as a Jalapeño. I can eat them whole, raw especially when in their immature white/green stage but they can also be used anywhere you would use jalapeño for example in Quesadillas with refried beans, Thai Corn Cakes (Tod Man Khao Pod), Chilli Squid, Thai Corn Cakes (Tod Man Khao Pod), Massamam Curry of Squash, nom-bo-kho-dried-beef-salad, Sweetcorn with chilli and lime, Roasted Pumpkin and Chorizo Soup or Singapore Noodles With Crispy Tofu. Havana Gold would also be great in cheviche.
With my extra chillies I have frozen, dried in to chilli flakes and also made some chilli sauce. As it is thin walled, Havana Gold does dry extremely well.
Yield and plant health
I couldn’t keep up with them! I planted six plants, each one had over 20 chillies. The plants were healthy, quite large and a touch leggy for chillies of that size so I did need to give then some support to stop the chillies trailing on the ground.
I have already planted seed for next year….but not quite so many!
Chillies and peppers need a heated propagator to get going, with a steady heat of 27-30 degrees for a minimum of two weeks, but occasionally up to twelve for super hots to germinate.
In Jan/Feb, make a mix of 2/3 seed compost to 1/3 perlite. Sow a few seeds in to a three inch pot and cover with 5 mm of either the seed mix or vermiculite. Label and place in the propagator. Water sparingly (misting the surface can be ideal) until germinated.
Once germinated and you can see the first set of true leaves, gently pot on in to three inch pots in a good free draining compost and keep in a sunny spot, with a minimum temperature of 12 degrees C. If you are able to grow under LED grow lights then your plants will be stockier and more robust. Blowing on them them gently everyday will also encourage that, stimulating wind.
Water sparingly until they are 3-6 inches high when you can pot on in to 9 inch pots or, if passed the risk of frost, plant in greenhouse soil or in a sunny, sheltered position outside. Feed and water once a week.
Chillies can take varying times to start flowering. Padron peppers are very early, habanero can take 100 days. If you are growing inside you will need to fertilise the flowers yourself with a small brush. If growing in a greenhouse or conservatory ventilate well on hot days as temperatures over 36 degrees can lead to flowers dropping off.