I’ve never grown a Hot Portugal prior to this season. In fact, I’d never even really heard of the pepper before picking up a small plant back in mid-June on a lark at a local nursery. That plant has since tripled in size, delivered three ripe peppers and is right now packed with another dozen or so. I may not have raised this one from see, but that’s not going to stop me from enjoying the heck out of some peppers.

Portugal Hot pepper fruit

You may not be able to tell in the photo above, just how big these things are, but the largest measured in at about five inches in length and roughly an inch in diameter at its widest. For such a smallish plant at the time I picked these, I wasn’t expecting it to produce such large fruit. Besides their overall carrot-like appearance and size, the pods are smooth skinned and bright read when fully ripe — you can see the transition from green above.

Once cut open, the Hot Portugal reveals a fairly thick skin with a solid placenta toward the stem that veins down near the other end. There’s a good number of seeds in this particular fruit, unlike the smaller once I harvested prior to these two.

Portugal Hot pepper fruit

The aroma is fairly subtle, with a smell that is like a cross between your standard red bell pepper (without the sweetness) and a cayenne. It’s got a fairly vegetal presence with a hint of that cayenne smokiness at the edges. The fruit doesn’t smell “spicy.”

In the photo of the pepper above showing the cut, you can see just how juicy this one is — it left a trail on the plate as I sliced it open. It chews with a nice crunch with a flavor that matches the nose almost to a tee. It’s got a standard red bell pepper base flavor with a mild sweetness and distant cayenne-like smokiness. For a lack of a better description, the flavor is fairly straightforward with a light fruitiness echoing late after each swallow.

Portugal Hot pepper fruit

There’s actually a decent bit of heat on this one. The Hot Portugal is obviously not a super-hot or even really that fiery, but it did provide a nice tongue burn that almost triggered a hiccup or two. It’s about on par (maybe a touch warmer) with a serrano or jalapeno, peaking cleanly after about five minutes or so. It fades nicely, leaving a touch of whiskey chest in its wake.

With the relatively benign flavor of the Hot Portugal and its middle-of-the-road heat levels, you’d be hard pressed to find a food this one wouldn’t be good with. It will add just a bit of heat to any dish without really affecting the overall flavor. I’ve tossed pieces of it in scrambled eggs and on tacos, adding a tingle of heat.

I’m not sure this one is worth the hassle of collecting and storing seeds as it’s a pepper that is readily available at local shops, but there are still plenty of fruit on the plant for me to fully make a decision for next season.