Just a week after posting the last update on my hydroponic Aji Lemon project, I was finally able to pick a several ripe peppers. Just about all of them went into making a sauce using the simper simple recipe I posted a while back. A couple more peppers went into my lunch that day to glorious effect. And one last one was kept aside to review and compare against the review of a pod from my outdoor plant.

Aji Lemon pepper photo

My first haul from teh hydroponic plant results in 11 peppers of varying sizes, but overall the lot averaged larger in size than my outdoor plant and much more vibrant in color. The photo below has a couple of fresh peppers next to a couple that were pulled from the freezer (they were picked in late Summer from outdoors). As you can see, the indoor peppers — grown under nearly ideal conditions — are much fuller, a bit more vibrant in color and a little smoother in texture.

Aji Lemon pepper photo

That differences in appearance are all well and good, but how does the flavor of the hydroponic pepper compare to that of the outdoor Aji Lemon? For the most part, they are just about identical, but with slight variations in the more subtle flavor characteristics.

Aji Lemon pepper photo

Visually, I’ve mentioned the outside differences above, but once we open up the pepper, the interior is very similar. I would say that the seeds are maybe a bit different in color, perhaps from having absorbed the hydroponic solution (which is a bit of a brownish color). Other than that, both look very much alike inside.

Cutting into the pepper, the aroma of lemongrass and citrus fill the air nearby. There’s probably a bit more citrus here when compared to the earthiness of the outdoor plant. The aroma is clean and with just a hint of heat lingering at the edges. I think I prefer aroma of the indoor plant more so than the outdoor peppers that I had picked.

Aji Lemon pepper photo

The flavor is packed with a more pronounced lemon and citrus flavor as you crunch through the medium-walled skin. The pepper feels much juicier than the outdoor plant. The burn is very similar (concentrated in the placenta), spreading across the sides of the tongue and a back-of-the-throat tingle that is mellow in nature. The flavor, overall, is similar but with a livelier nature and a bit less earthiness.

Aji Lemon pepper photo

After eating this pepper, as well as the sauce I made, I can see the allure to growing via hydroponics. The ability to control every aspect of the plants growth and development certainly shows through in the end result. The peppers were bigger, more vibrant in flavor and just as tasty as always. If I had more room available in the house, I’d be tempted to move more plants indoors. As it stands, I can’t, but I’m going to fully enjoy the pods that are continuing to ripen on this one little plant.