Looking for something a tad different in the garden? Why not give the Italian topepo pepper a try. What is a topepo pepper? Topepo rosso peppers are Italian pimento peppers with a squat, stout, apple- or tomato-like shape and thick, meaty walls. Ripe topepo rosso peppers start out green, eventually turning bright, deep red with a mild, sweet, slightly zingy flavor.
Italian Topepo Pepper Information
Topepo rosso pepper seeds have been passed down from generation to generation. Because they have been around for more than fifty years, they qualify as heirloom vegetables. Like all heirloom varieties, topepo rosso peppers are open pollinated and never hybridized.
Also called tomato pepper because of its resemblance by some to a tomato (hence the tomato and pepper combination – topepo), this pepper variety includes yet another interesting moniker of Christmas pepper. While many believe this is due to the fruit’s bright red color, the name actually came about as the result of its popularity during the holidays. These peppers are commonly pickled in vinegar for about three months until around Christmas when they are stuffed and fried as part of a traditional Italian meal.
Growing Topepo Rosso Peppers
Topepo rosso peppers are easy to grow. Purchase small, starter plants at a greenhouse or nursery that specializes in heirloom plants or search for suppliers online. Look for healthy, compact plants and avoid those that already have peppers; they are overly mature and may not survive the transplant.
Otherwise, purchase seeds and start topepo rosso seeds indoors a few weeks before the last frost of the season. Keep the pots or tray warm with heat mats to promote germination. Once the seeds sprout, place the seedlings under grow lights or fluorescent bulbs.
Transplant topepo rosso peppers outdoors when the ground is warm and you’re sure all danger of frost has passed. The short, compact plants grow well in the ground or in containers. If frosty weather threatens, protect the young plants with row covers or hotcaps.
Like all peppers, topepo rosso peppers thrive in sunlight and heat so plant accordingly. Be sure the soil is well-drained. Water moderately.
Topepo rosso peppers are used like any other pepper – stuffed, roasted, fried or incorporated into cooked dishes. They are delicious eaten raw and one pepper is just right for a single serving.