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Datil Peppers: The First Settlers

Datil Peppers were among the first settlers on the First Coast.

As legend has it, datil peppers were brought to St. Augustine’s coast by indentured workers from Minorca (one of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain) in the late 18th century.

Today, datil peppers are cultivated throughout the United States, but the majority are still produced in St. Augustine. Most visitors have never even heard of a datil pepper but it’s been a centerpiece of Old Florida cuisine since the 1800s.

If you’re one of those who has not heard of this culinary treasure, we present you Datil Pepper 101. This small pepper’s scientific name is capsicum chinense, also known as “yellow lantern chili”. Datil peppers grow to be anywhere from ¼ inch to 4 inches long and turn from green to yellow-orange once ripe.

Datil peppers are hot - similar in heat index to the habanero pepper. On the Scoville scale (used to measure a pepper’s spiciness), the datil pepper ranks at 100,000 to 350,000 units. This is 120 times hotter than a jalapeno pepper. However, unlike it’s habanero cousin, datil peppers are sweet with a fruitful tangy taste.

The datil pepper is one of the most popular locally-grown products and is in fact the Official Plant of St. Johns County. During the first weekend of October, the little pepper even has its own event, the Datil Pepper Fall Festival, hosted by the UF IFAS Extension.

Minorcan Mike’s uses the datil pepper to create sauce, jelly and salsa that are “sweet with a little heat.” The products are versatile and applications plentiful. Minorcan Mike’s Datil Pepper Sauce is truly good on everything! Check out our Recipes for inspiration. You won’t be disappointed!

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