Ark of Taste
Hinkelhatz Hot Pepper
Named by its Pennsylvania Dutch* growers, the 'Hinkelhatz' is a rare heirloom pepper which translates to “chicken heart,” a description of its size and shape. The variety is one of the oldest preserved by this group of Mennonites, cultivated for well over 150 years. It was illustrated in Charles L’Ecluse’s 1611 Curae Posteriores, though without a mentioned origin (presumed to be Mexico). The peppers are usually red or yellow, though a very rare orange variant exists preserved among a small group of Mennonite farmers in Maxatawy, Pennsylvania and is slightly more toplike in shape. Its flavor is described as “stocky” and it is considered to be quite hot. The Hinkelhatz is traditionally used exclusively for pickling. The Pennsylvania Dutch cooked and pureed it to make a pepper vinegar, a condiment often sprinkled on sauerkraut. A recipe appears in 1848 in Die Geschickte Hausfrau. Though its production area has spread across the country, the seeds are still quite rare and carried only by a select few seed companies.
The Hinkelhatz is a prolific producer as well as being cold tolerant, lending itself to a longer season than the average hot pepper, with resistance to pests and disease. The pods are covered with tiny bumps and wrinkles and measure 1 1/4 inches in length tapering to a blunt point. The plant is bushlike, small and compact, measuring 1 1/2 to 2 feet tall. The Hinkelhatz ripens late in the season, which is usually by mid-September in Pennsylvania.
*Dutch is actually a corruption of Deutsch, i.e. German, not as in from the Netherlands
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