New kid on the block
Whilst many chillies have histories thousands of years old, certain Chillies are comparatively new kids on the block.
The Fresno Chilli falls into a category called New Mexican chillies, which are varieties that have been fairly recently developed through selective breeding to achieve specific characteristics. A pioneer in this field was Dr Fabian Garcia
Of the New Mexico State University, and he has been joined by many other great developers of great new Chillies.
The Fresno Chilli was released to the market by the Clarence Brown seed company in 1952. The company’s founder was Clarence Brown Hamlin of Clovis, Fresno County, who developed this specific variety. According to his nephew in an article on Fresnochili.com, the Chilli was developed by Hamlin by accident. He had apparently been trying to develop a hybrid with a different taste when he found himself with the Fresno. What a great accident!
The Fresno is more or less the same as the Jalapeno, with a similar size and shape. Both turn from a green to red when they mature, and to a certain extent, when young, even taste the same. Genetically, however, they are distinctly different. The Jalapeno grows with its pods facing downwards, whereas the Fresno grows pods pointing up. The Jalapeno has a thicker skin and has a meatier texture than the Fresno. From a heat intensity point of view – the Fresno is hotter than the Jalapeno, with a higher-end Scoville rating of 10000 versus 5000 SHU. So not quite the same peas in a pod!
Besides normal day to day uses, like making burgers, the Fresno is excellent in salsas and can be stuffed with fillings like cream cheese. Their thinner skins mean that they don’t need to be char-grilled or steamed before doing this. Not that chargrilling is a bad thing for the Fresno. A wonderful pesto can be made by chargrilling the peppers and mixing them with nuts, parmesan cheese, and a few other ingredients to make a stunning appetizer. See Roasted Red Fresno Pepper Pesto Recipe
Looking forward to many more!