It is a rare find for a plant to receive an official name in honor of someone, but the Jimmy Nardello pepper is just that; an homage to a family that has cultivated and had a love for pepper for many generations. Officially named the Jimmy Nardello Italian Pepper, this is a sweet pepper that can be eaten raw or dried and fried to transform that sweet taste in to one that has a bit of a slight bite to it which is along the lines of a black peppercorns.
Jimmy Nardello, the man, was the fourth of eleven children of Italian immigrants Giuseppe and Angella Nardello. The couple immigrated to the United States from Southern Italy and brought their love of peppers with them and some seeds which they used in their home garden in their new hometown of Naugatuck, Connecticut.
The Jimmy Nardello is a hearty pepper that grows rather quickly and produces bright red and long, skinny peppers that are ideal for frying as they can be fried whole or sliced lengthwise to expose the seeds. Right off of the vine, at maturity, the Jimmy Nardello pepper is a deep and rich red and when bitten into has a sweet and almost fruity flavor. However, those who prefer this pepper enjoy the versatility. The six to nine inch long thin peppers are a perfect pairing for cooking or adding to salads raw; making it a highly versatile pepper.
It is an ideal pepper for both Italian cuisine and also Mexican and South American as it can be dried and fried to make for an ideal substitution for commercial red pepper flakes as it retains some sweetness but has a slight bite that pairs well with most dishes.
An intriguing point about the Jimmy Nardello is that before his death in 1983, he donated his seeds to the Seed Savers Exchange so that the seeds could be preserved and maintained after his passing. The pepper is commonly called the Jimmy Nardello but the official name through the Seed Savers Exchange is the Jimmy Nardello Sweet Italian Frying Pepper.
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