A Little Datil Do Ya

Parrot Heads & Gardening

One major commonality between my early childhood growing up outside Cincinnati and living in northeast Florida for almost 25 years – Parrot Heads. As a Jimmy Buffet fan and gardener, there is one song I have slightly changed the lyrics to because of its connection to Northeast Florida Gardeners. Alongside songs like Barefoot Children, A Pirate Looks a Forty, and Cuban Crime of Passion (to name a few), one of my favorite songs is Pencil Thin Mustache. At the end of the song, the lyrics say, “Bryl-cream, a little dab’ll do ya.” Somewhere along the way, I began singing, “Bryl-cream, a little datil do ya,” because of our tasty, yet spicy, NE Florida pepper – The Datil Pepper. If you are unfamiliar with datil peppers (Capsicum sinense), they’re a delicious pepper from NE Florida, specifically St Augustine.

A Spicy Pepper w/ a Cool History

Datil peppers provide a fruity and mighty spice while adding a wonderful flavor to foods. Slowly, as its popularity has grown with backyard gardeners, you may find different sauces and recipes including Datil peppers. Not only is it a great addition to foods, but its story and use have embedded itself into the history of St Augustine – our own ethnobotanical connection.

Datil peppers’ origins in St Augustine are unknown, but there are two popularly accepted origin stories. Some people believe the peppers were brought and used by the Spanish Menorcan population arriving in St Augustine as indentured servants in the 1800s. Others believe, because of the pepper’s similarities to Fatalii, a pepper from Central and Southern Africa, that it was brought to St Augustine because of the slave trade.

Understand the *Spice*

In essence, Datil Peppers are spicy. Scoville units are the measured amount of spiciness on the Scoville scale. Scoville units measure the concentration of capsaicinoids within peppers, the more capsaicin in peppers, the spicier the pepper. Datil Peppers average 100,000 – 300,000 Scoville units; the equivalent of a Habanero. A jalapeno, as a reference, is around 2,000 – 8,000 Scoville units.

Growing Datil Peppers

If you have experience growing any pepper, you can be successful growing Datil peppers. UF/IFAS Extension St Johns County’s Terra Freeman’s fact sheet helps outline the specific details in helping grow your own Datil Peppers.

After harvesting your Datil peppers be prepared for a delicious, sweet, yet spicy addition to your foods! When visiting farmers’ markets or local restaurants and stores, be on the lookout for Datil pepper sauce. But remember to enjoy your delicious venture into a uniquely Floridian pepper and that, “a little datil do ya.”

Other Datil Pepper Resources

How to Reach Us!

If you have any questions about planting, selecting, and maintaining your garden, reach out to our Master Gardener Volunteer Help Desk at Nassau County’s extension office for more tips. For all your questions about managing your gardens and landscapes, you may reach out to the Nassau County Master Gardener Volunteers at NassauMGV@ifas.ufl.edu.


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More Information:

The Good Gardener – An MGV Newsletter

UF/IFAS Extension Nassau County

UF/IFAS Extension Blogs – Taylor Clem

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Posted: June 15, 2024

Category: Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Fruits & Vegetables, Home Landscapes
Tags: Datil Pepper, Extension, Gardening, Nassau County, NE Florida, Pepprs, Vegetable Gardening

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