While my weekend wasn’t exactly “All About Peppers,” one hour of my Sunday afternoon was. I visited Chicago’s Botanic Gardens to discover everything about peppers there is to discover, and let me tell you, my purse still smells like peppers.

While we missed the tour of the 17 different pepper plants they grow at the Botanic Gardens, as well as the cooking demonstration (sorry Talia!) we were still able to pepper our own batch of free popcorn, mix and take home our own chili powder (yea…I think that leaked in my purse, hence the smell) for a homemade pepper lime butter, and read handout after handout of pepper facts. There were artists painting peppers and making garlands out of dried peppers.

And…we even got to take home a mini broccoli plant! I still have no idea what this had to do with peppers…except that they gave us a Peppered Broccoli Salad recipe to take home with it.

What did I learn? Well, pepper plants use to be cultivated exclusively in the Americas, and it wasn’t until the Christopher Columbus era that they were spread around the world. Despite this, they originated millions of years ago is the lands of what is now Bolivia, and it is thought that birds brought them over to the Americas.

I also learned that there are way more things to do with peppers than I thought: you can roast them, pickle them, make vinegar out of them, make jelly out of them, and even….make pepper (the ground kind) – go figure! But really…pepper jelly? Who knew? They had a demo jelly on hand and it was bright green; I don’t think pepper jelly is really my thing.

The exhibit would not have been complete without a whole slew of pepper products and their vendors, and I assure you it was complete. Seen here are some of the many seasonings made by Let’s Spice it Up.

The events and exhibits were all great fun but let’s just say, after this lingering pepper smell I can’t get rid of, I’m a bit peppered out.

-Hillary, welcoming Sarah back to the blog!
Editor, Recipe4Living

  • Michelle

    You visited my blog today and saw the Habanero Jelly. I live in the Chicago Area and will have to keep an eye out for another Pepper Festival at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Thanks so much for the information and for visiting my blog.

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