For well over a century, Historic City News readers and their local families have enjoyed a love affair with Saint Augustine’s most identifiable fruit — the noble datil pepper; and Saturday October 6 and Sunday October 7, as part of the St Johns County Home and Garden Show, your friends and neighbors will be looking for you at the 2012 Datil Pepper Festival.
Activities for the Sixth Annual Saint Augustine Datil Pepper Festival will include a Datil Cook-Off from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. on Saturday and an Amateur Datil Sauce Contest beginning at Noon until 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Madeline Samec told reporters that the St Johns County Extension Service will sponsoring this annual even to promote the appreciation and enjoyment of the Datil Pepper at the St Johns Agriculture Center located at 3125 Agricultural Center Drive in Saint Augustine.
The Datil pepper has been the centerpiece of Old Florida cuisine since the 1800s. The plant typically grows to be around one to two and a half feet tall and bears elongated yellow-orange colored peppers that are about 3.5 inches long. The plant takes about five months to mature.
Datils are as hot, or hotter, than habaneros but have a sweeter, fruitier flavor; especially when fully ripe. Their level of spiciness may be anywhere from 350,000 to 450,000 Scoville units.
The majority of Datil Peppers are produced in St Augustine. Although local lore suggests Datils were brought to St. Augustine by indentured workers from Minorca in the late 18th century, it is more likely they were brought from Chile around 1880 by a jelly maker named S. B. Valls.
Admission and parking are free.
You and your family are the judges for the People’s Choice Awards. When you check in at the Festival desk to buy your Tasting Coupons, you will be given a judging sheet with the name of each contestant. You will rate each dish according to your own taste and impression. When completed, the judging sheets will be taken back to the Festival table for tabulation by our volunteer poll workers.
Each contestant will provide a taste of their Datil-inspired, Datil-containing dishes when you give them a $1 Tasting Coupon. The proceeds of the Coupon sales will be shared with the contestants to offset the cost of their participation and the prizes.
It’s the HOTTEST Festival in Florida
Photo credits: © 2012 Historic City News contributed photograph by Christopher Baker