Never heard of a datil pepper? Well you are not alone. I grew up in Florida, but did not know about the datil myself until I was grown and started vacationing at St Augustine’s beautiful beach every summer. St Augustine, the nation’s oldest city is home to this unique species of pepper plants. We joined the multitude of tourists who “discovered” the datil pepper and took it home with us. Local restaurants use it in recipes like Minorcan clam chowder, and as a sauce on fish and seafood. Farmer’s market vendors sell small plants and their own versions of datil sauces. And there is an annual Datil Pepper Festival with a Datil Cook-off.
St Augustine is all about the datil. But people outside of the area have never heard of the datil pepper. My goal is to change that. I want to educate America about the datil pepper one customer at a time while using only the finest quality, all-natural ingredients. I want everyone to be as excited about the datil pepper as I am!
What Does A Datil Pepper Taste Like?
Datils are not like any other pepper you have ever tasted. These golden yellow gems have been described as a cross between the sweet, slightly fruity flavor of a bell pepper and the heat of a habanero. It comes in at around 100,000–300,000 on the Scoville heat scale or Scoville Heat Units (SHU). As a comparison, the Carolina reaper and ghost pepper typically are much hotter and are in the 855,000–2,480,000 SHU range. Banana peppers and jalapeno peppers are from 3,500–10,000 SHU, Cubanelle peppers fall between 100–1,000 SHU, and the sweet bell pepper registers a 0 on the Scoville heat scale.
Where in the world did the Datil Pepper come from?
The origin of the datil pepper is unknown. Numerous theories and legends abound, but the most common focuses on a group of people known as the Minorcans who brought the seeds to Florida in 1763 from Menorca in the Balaeric Islands off the coast of Spain.
In 1763, Dr Andrew Turnbull, a Scottish physician received a land grant to colonize what was then British East Florida. He recruited people from Italy, Corsica, Greece, and Menorca. These colonists, as indentured servants, arrived in New Smyrna, Florida, and were contracted for nine years to provide labor on Dr. Turnbull’s indigo plantation. In exchange, at the end of the nine years, they were to be granted their freedom and their own parcel of land.
Conditions were hard. In addition to being beaten and treated poorly by Dr. Turnbull and his overseers, food and resources were scarce and malaria and other illnesses killed off many of the settlers. Dr. Turnbull reneged on the contracts and many of the settlers revolted. They walked over 70 miles north to St Augustine, and were freed by Governor Tonyn in 1777. The Minorcans, as the colonists called themselves collectively at that time, settled in St. Augustine and began to farm their own small plots of land, growing among other things, datil peppers from seeds they lovingly carried with them. Many proud descendants of those original Minorcan settlers live in St Augustine and the surrounding area to this day.
Datil peppers resemble the fatali pepper from Africa, so another legend is that they were brought into St Augustine by slave traders. The fatali pepper is believed to originate in the Central African Republic, and is widely used in African cooking.
The Complete Chili Pepper Book by Dave DeWitt and Paul W. Bosland, suggests that the datil pepper was introduced to St. Augustine in 1880 by S.B. Valls, a jelly maker from Cuba. This is a beautiful book, full of incredible color photographs, and information on what they describe as the “top 100” chili peppers which can be grown in a home garden.
Although there are other accounts of how the datil pepper made its way to North East Florida, no definitive origin has been discovered. Regardless of where it came from, Minorcans and the city of St. Augustine embrace the datil as their own treasured pepper. Its fiery flavor is so special that local families hand down their treasured recipes for datil pepper hot sauce from one generation to another.
Speaking of hot sauces, did I introduce myself? Let me back up a bit. My name is Angela Bean. My family moved to St. Augustine about 7 years ago. I make datil pepper products and cook with them every day. I love to create new recipes, and my family loves datil peppers, so I began making salsa and sauces using fresh, locally grow datil peppers. It seems I was constantly getting requests from family and friends for a jar of one of my sauces. I was giving it away as fast as I could make it, and the idea for a business was born. I started out with just a medium salsa and the business has grown exponentially. I never dreamed it possible to take something I love and turn it into a business. I want to share my passion for fiery foods and creative menus to help you spice up your life.
Old St Augustine Gourmet Datil Pepper Hot Sauces are amazing! We use only the ripest golden datil peppers, and only the finest quality, fresh ingredients with no additives or preservatives. Both our original Snake Bite and new Venom hot sauce are the perfect addition to any table. They are so versatile, you can use them on practically everything.
Snake Bite Datil Pepper Hot Sauce brings a medium level of heat. It adds a kick of datil pepper heat to eggs, soups and stews, meats, sandwiches, and just about any savory food. If you like your hot sauce in the medium heat range, this is definitely the one for you. Put some real Bite in your life!
Venom Datil Pepper Hot Sauce is for the chili-heads out there who want even more fiery heat, and that spicy-hot datil pepper taste. Venom was just added in response to the numerous requests we received from customers who wanted to kick it up a notch. You spoke, and we listened. Venom is definitely here to stay. Hot, but not over the top, I have a son that can practically drink the stuff out of the bottle. If you are looking for a blast of datil pepper heat, you need some Venom in your life.
Looking for delicious recipes using Datil Pepper hot sauce?
Here are two of my personal favorite appetizers. They are both easy to make and crowd pleasing. You can adjust the heat by decreasing or increasing the amount of hot sauce you add. Datil peppers will add a new taste sensation to anything you make.
Snake Bite Blazing Buffalo Chicken Dip
There are lots of Buffalo Chicken Dip recipes out there, so if you already have a personal favorite, try substituting Old St Augustine Datil Pepper Hot Sauces for whichever brand you are currently using and notice the difference a datil makes.