The Beaver Dam Pepper. What is it? Why would one want to grow this variety? We were introduced to the pepper by Tim Csiacsek (pronounced Chee Check) who is a decedent of the family who brought these peppers from Hungary to Beaver Dam, WI in the early 1900s.
We met Tim while buying products for our several home improvement projects. He works for Chase Lumber. We do not really remember how the subject came up, but Tim was instrumental in telling us the story of this tasty pepper and his family’s involvement in the popularity and continued success including the annual festival every September.
The 2023 Beaver Dam Pepper Festival is scheduled for September 9th…but that is a post for another day.
This Hungarian heirloom was brought to Beaver Dam in 1912 by the Joe Hussli family. The Husslis were Hungarian immigrants who brought this special vegetable with them in order to grow it in the new country.
Chris and Tim Csiacsek say the Husslis were not the only ones to recognize the value of bringing the seed from this outstanding pepper with them when they came to this country. Seeds were actually brought here by a couple of families. Chris is organizing pepper genology for a booth at the festival that features the history of this heirloom vegetable.
The pepper’s first fruits mature 80 days after transplanting, at which point they ripen from lime-green to red. The crunchy fruits are mildly hot and when seeded, they hold an excellent flavor. Heat rated as a three on a scale of one to five, the Beaver Dam pepper is perfect for making fresh batches of cool tangy salsas.
“Tim’s grandma Anna, at age 14, came to this country in around 1920 and she also brought the seed along,” said Chris. “Anna taught her children, grand children and great grandchildren how to grow it and harvest the seed head, dry it and save it for planting in years to come.”
Here in Zone 5A Tim tells us that St. Patty’s Day is the best time to start plants from seed indoors.
The pepper seed is available from just a handful of mail order seed companies in the United States and Canada, and its future is largely in the hands of these seed-saving companies.
We gleaned seeds from most of the peppers we consumed in 2022. If anyone is having trouble finding seeds and wishes to start their own plants from seed, let us know. We will work something out.