Early and prolific classic Japanese pepper has 3-4" thin-walled fruits with a very subtle heat. Usually eaten green and unripe, they are also delicious when red. Roast or sauté in oil until they just begin to blister and serve with sea salt, or batter and fry as tempura. Every 10 or 20 peppers will be a little hotter, though the vast majority have a Scoville heat rating of 50-200: only a bit spicier than a bell pepper.
The name Shishito is a Japanese abbreviation for the combination of shishi or jishi (lion's head) and tōgarashi (tip of the chili pepper), as the tips look like lion's heads. It is known as kkwari-gochu or ground cherry chili in Korean. One theory is that shishitos are a Japanese selection of the Padrón pepper from Spain. Chili peppers originate in what is now Mexico and have been adapted to various soils, cultures, and tastes throughout the world. We received seeds from this variety from our friends at Kitazawa Seed Company, the oldest seed company in America specializing in Asian vegetable seeds, founded in 1917. We recommend checking them out for more Asian varieties!
Days to maturity: 60
Seeds per pack: 25
Germination rate: 76% on 02/12/2021
Planting / harvesting notes
Start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost and transplant into garden well after the danger of frost. Keep seedlings moist but do not overwater. Transplants should be initially watered in well, and plants will be most productive with regular irrigation and full sun. Traditionally harvested green, though red fruits are also tasty.
Seed keeping notes
Peppers are generally self-pollinating, though we isolate different varieties of the same species by at least 50 feet, in hopes that flying insects will not cross pollinate them unexpectedly. There are several important species of peppers, so check your scientific names! Pepper seeds are ripe when the fruits have turned their final fiery color - in this case, sunset-orange. Cut the fruit, scrape out seeds, and lay them out to dry on a labeled screen or paper product in a ventilated place away from direct sunlight for a week or two. Drying the peppers before seed extraction can slightly lower your germination rates, but works fine for home seed saving as long as the peppers do not rot.