I hadn’t planned on growing this pepper variety for the 2020 season. In fact, I didn’t even know I owned seeds for this particular plant, but what was supposed to be a Caramel Scorponero turned out to be a back of at least two different varieties – some random peach scorpion and these, what I believe to be Aji Rojo.

Ajo Rojo peppers

Of the two surprise plants, this one was by far my favorite. The plant is incredibly prolific, producing more fresh pods than I could keep up with. Several dozen went to neighbors. As for the actual fruit themselves, well, the number of bags of frozen pods in my freezer and jar of dried flakes are evidence enough that it’s a keeper.

Each ripe fruit on the Aji Rojo was consistent with the rest, all roughly three inches in length with bright red, smooth skin. Inside, a thin line of placenta stretches the entire length with seeds clustered near the stem end of the fruit.

Ajo Rojo peppers

The aroma carries a soft floral note and distant citrus for an appealing character. It does smell like it may be hotter than it’s initially letting on. Biting into the fruit produces a pleasing crunch with a solid amount of juiciness and an up-front sweetness. The placenta is a bit on the bitter side, but that passes quickly with distant floral and grassy notes.

The Aji Rojo sits with a moderate tongue burn that slowly spreads to the roof of the mouth. It’s almost Cayenne-like but a touch more intense. The burn is quite pleasing, swelling smoothly to a peak before ultimately fading into the distant lazily.

As stated above, I’ve been putting dried Aji Rojo flakes on just about everything the past week or so – from eggs at breakfast to the wife’s lasagna. The flavor of the pepper isn’t enough to alter the experience of the base foods that it’s being applied to, but does provide a welcome amount of heat that hits just a bit harder than your store-bought red pepper flake.