Aji Charapita – more expensive than Safran?! This chilli variety is truly something special. Not only the extremely high price is responsible for this, but also the one of a kind taste of this chilli!
The aji charapita chilli — is it really more expensive than saffron?
Aji charapita chillies are really something special, and not only because of its steep price. The taste of this rare chilli-type is equally impressive, and we think it’s about time you got to know it. So let’s take a look: Where does it come from and why should you care? This is all you need to know about the aji charapita!
Where does it originally come from?
Aji charapitas were originally grown in Peru’s tropical north, right on the border to Brazil. Due to this, it’s incredibly perceptible to the cold and - as such - is found almost nowhere else on earth.
What type of chilli is the aji charapita?
Aji charapitas are a type of Capsicum chinense, a family of bulbous chilli peppers that are commonly referred to as ‘habanero type peppers’. With their orange/yellow tint, the chillies are easy to spot, especially as they grow almost vertically.
The main characteristics of the aji charapita
Aji charapitas are special little things. Aside from being a bright yellow colour, they are also unusually small. Roughly the size of a pea, they are small yet potent. When eaten, a deliciously fruity taste is the first thing you may notice, before the burning of the capsaicin kicks in. This process begins fairly slowly, so you may even be tempted to go in for a second one before the heat hits you. According to the Scoville scale, aji charapita lies somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 Scoville heat units: About 5 to 20 times hotter than a jalapeno! These are the chillies main characteristics:
- They are about the size and shape of a pea.
- They are either yellow or red in colour.
- They have a fruity taste.
- They are very spicy.
So, what makes the aji charapita so expensive?
The market price of a kilo of aji charapita is currently around €20,000. This makes it almost twice as pricey as saffron, a spice that’s more renowned for its price tag than its taste. So why does it cost so much? Well, the main reason is the rarity of these chillies. Outside of Peru, it’s incredibly difficult to grow aji charapita chillies. In Europe especially they are almost unheard of, with only a handful of growers going to the trouble. Aside from this, as each chilli needs to be picked by hand, harvesting alone is incredibly time consuming. And if picking individual chillies wasn’t hard enough, the farmers need to be sure to pluck not only the chilli but the stalk too to avoid it drying out the moment it’s picked. As a final factor, aji charapitas have also become a favourite of leading chefs all over the world of late — boosting their popularity and spiking demand.
Get your aji charapita chillies at Pepperworld now!
Ready to try them out? At Pepperworld, we stock both aji charapita seeds and baby plants so you can grow them yourself. If you’d prefer not to wait for harvest, we also stock fresh aji charapita chillies that you can buy and enjoy immediately.
What to watch out for when growing your own
Due to the aji charapita being a plant of tropical origin, it’s important you pay close attention to where and how you plant them. We recommend using a greenhouse to grow them at home, especially one that’s warm and receives plenty of light. If you grow your own from seed, make sure that the temperature in your greenhouse doesn’t drop below 22° Celsius and doesn’t rise above 28° Celsius. Additionally, they need to remain fairly moist throughout their growth, but not wet enough that mould can invade. Here’s what you should look out for broken down:
- If possible, use a greenhouse.
- While they seed, keep the temperature constantly between 22° and 28° Celsius.
- Keep the seeds moist.
- If you over water, mould may invade and kill your plants.
Pepperworld’s final word on the aji charapita chilli
Aji charapita chillies are the most expensive spice in the world. Even saffron is cheaper to buy per kilo! The chillies themselves originally come from a small region in the north of Peru and, still today, they are seldom found anywhere else in the world. Aji charapita chillies are small plants that are similar in size to common garden peas and are instantly recognisable via their vibrant red or yellow skin. At Pepperworld, we sell a range of seeds, plantlings and fresh chillies, so whether you want to grow them yourself or get a batch of fresh aji charapita delivered to your door — we’ve got you covered!