Aji Cristal peppers are small, spicy chili peppers native to Curico, Chile, that ripen to a fiery orange-red color. They are widely used in local cuisine.
Scoville Heat Units: 30,000 SHU.
Aji Cristal peppers are small, spicy chili peppers native to Curico, Chile. Most aji peppers are local to South America, and are used in many different cultural dishes. These peppers are not commercially grown in the area, though have been popularized by small farms selling the pods.
Appearance and Flavor of the Aji Cristal
Aji Cristal peppers grow up to 4 inches long. They are wider at the stem and taper to a smaller, round end. The peppers start light green in color, then ripen to yellow and finally a vibrant orange-red color.
The pepper flesh has a medium thickness, and is somewhat waxy. When eating them fresh, they are quite crunchy, and offer a slightly citrus flavor and aroma.
How Hot is the Aji Cristal?
The Aji Cristal measures at 30,000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville Scale. Compare that to a jalapeno, which averages 5,000 Scoville Heat Units, making a typical aji cristal about 6 times hotter than the average jalapenos.
Cooking with Aji Cristal Peppers
The most common use for aji cristal peppers is for making a famous Chilean condiment called "Pebre". Pebre is Chile’s answer to pico de gallo., and is quite delicious, made with aji peppers, olive oil, garlic and cilantro. See my pebre recipe so you can make it on your own.
You can cook with these peppers as you cook with any peppers, by chopping and cooking them up as part of your main dish, as part of the mire poix. Use them to spice up soups and stews, pots of chili, or pretty much any dish.
They are small, so not ideal for stuffing. But, because of the vibrant color and spicy heat, I love them for making fresh salsas or for dehydrating and grind them into chili flakes or chili powders.
I have grown these peppers in my garden and can attest that the plants are easy to grown and are quite prolific. If you want a lot of peppers, grow aji cristal peppers, or any aji pepper.
Try some of these recipes that feature aji peppers:
- Fermented Aji-Garlic Hot Sauce
- Aji-Lime-Kiwi Sweet Pepper Jam
- Aji Picante Sauce
- Aji Pineapple Hot Sauce
- Pebre with Aji Chili Peppers
Where Can I Buy Aji Cristal Seeds?
You can find aji cristal pepper seeds online at seed sellers. Here is an affiliate link to help you get started - Buy Aji Cristal Pepper Seeds. Good luck with your garden!
TYPES OF AJI CHILI PEPPERS
There are many different strains of Peruvian aji peppers, and the plants are typically very productive. A few popular aji are: