Datil Pepper Challenge

by Melody Larson

Posted 10/14/19

Datil peppers growing in the St. Francis courtyard

What is the datil pepper? The datil pepper is a small hot yellow/orange pepper grown locally only in St. Augustine. The datil pepper ranges from 100,000 to 300,000 Scoville heat units. The datil pepper is on par with the more infamous habanero and Scotch bonnet peppers.

Some say the pepper originated from the island of Minorca with the early immigrants bringing them over in the 1700’s. Historians have found a mention of the datil pepper in Florida from a book in 1880. It is one of the most popular locally grown products. It is equivalent to the key lime pie in Key West, the Georgia peach, the Florida orange or the pineapple in Hawaii. Almost every restaurant in St. Augustine has their own unique take on the datil pepper from datil pepper chicken wings, pizza and even a datil pepper burger. There are even datil pepper doughnuts and popsicles.

There is an annual Datil Pepper Festival. The local chefs compete for the best datil pepper dish in a Datil Pepper Restaurant cook-off contest. You can buy datil pepper plants here and taste lots of datil pepper dishes.

So let’s go on this datil pepper challenge and try some datil pepper foods. I have only ever tried the datil pepper chocolate at Whetstone Chocolates, the datil pepper seasoning and the salsa so I’m excited to try more. Those items were not that spicy. I did just buy some datil pepper seeds to try growing them at home. Datil pepper ice cream and popsicles? Let’s try it.

I will rate the spicy level also from 1-3 datil pepper spicy. I prefer spicy level 1 and I like medium hot only occasionally. The Level 3 might be too hot for me. Here is my personal spicy rating scale that I will rate the food.

  • Spicy level 1 is mild (Example: You can barely taste it. Only slightly spicy.)
  • Spicy level 2 is medium (Example: It makes you sniffle.)
  • Spicy level 3 is hot (Example: A hot sauce. You need a glass of water or milk.)

Note: Menu items can change and may not always be available. Check the restaurant website menu or call before going if you are looking for a specific datil pepper item. The datil pepper offerings were current as of the writing of this article.

Whetstone Chocolates datil pepper dark chocolate ganache

Stop 1: Datil pepper ganache dark chocolate

Whetstone Chocolates: We started our datil pepper day at Whetstone Chocolates at the King Street location on our drive into town. The datil pepper ganache dark chocolate is melt in your mouth creamy with a little spice at the end. It was not too spicy. It was the perfect mix of the chocolate sweetness and the spicy. We also got some Florida flavors chocolate shells to snack on.

Datil pepper spicy rating: Level 1 mild.

Park at Bed & Breakfast and walk

We drove to the St. Francis Inn where we were staying and parked our car in the inn parking lot. We were able to check in since our room was ready early. If the room was not ready yet you can still park in the inn parking lot. You can just give them your car make/model information and come back in a few hours.

Stop 2: Datil Pepper Lunch

Spicy melt with datil-chipotle mayo at The Floridian

The Floridian: We walked about 10 minutes to The Floridian restaurant for lunch. There was a sandwich and a burrito on the menu with datil-chipotle mayo in them. I had the spicy melt with tofu with datil-chipotle mayo. We loved the datil-chipotle mayo so much we asked for extra to dip our chips in it. I am going to try making this datil-chipotle mayo at home.

Datil pepper spicy rating: Level 1 mild.

Stop 3: Datil pepper shops

Nothin’ but Datil

The Women’s Exchange of St Augustine store: We went to The Women’s Exchange of St Augustine store on St. George Street to buy some datil pepper items to take home. You can find datil pepper items here ranging from hot sauce, jelly, jam and seasoning. The employee there said the datil pepper berry jam was her favorite and even recommended a way to it. She said she loves the jam so much that she doesn’t like sharing it at home. I bought the Nuthin’ But datil (ground datil peppers), Dixie Datil berry jam and some datil marinate.

  • Nuthin’ but datil (ground datil peppers): OK this should be used in moderation. I used it at home and it made me reach for some milk. Very hot! This was the hottest one I tried. Datil pepper spicy rating level 3 hot. 
  • Datil marinate: Datil pepper spicy rating: Level 1 mild.
  • Dixie Datil berry jam: I tried this at home spread on some crackers with cream cheese. The cream cheese helped tone down the spicy level. Datil pepper spicy rating level 2 medium.

Datil berry jam

Stop 4: Datil pepper ice cream

Datil dark chocolate ice cream at Mayday Ice Cream

We stopped at Mayday Ice Cream for the datil pepper ice cream. I got the Datil Dark ice cream. It was dark chocolate filled with cocoa nibs and datil pepper. This ice cream was delicious. The datil spice delay doesn’t hit until the very end. I first I said “I don’t taste the datil.” The employee said give it a moment. Wait for it. Pause. Then that spicy kick! Oh there it is. This was my favorite datil pepper item we tried.

Datil pepper spicy rating: Level 1 mild.

Stop 5: Datil pepper gourmet ice pops

Strawberry datil gourmet Popsicle at The Hyppo

Our datil pepper adventure last stop was the The Hyppo. I had the strawberry datil gourmet ice pops. It tasted like strawberry with just a slight kick of datil. It was not too spicy.

Datil pepper spicy rating: Level 1 mild.

Datil pepper challenge summary

I learned that datil pepper can be used in a variety of ways. I’m going to try making the datil-chipotle mayo at home and growing my own datil pepper from seeds. You can make dishes with datil ranging from not that spicy or super spicy. My favorite was the datil dark ice cream.

Datil pepper seeds

Buy a live datil pepper plant

More datil pepper food and drinks

NOTE: All items were purchased personally. None of the items were sponsored or hosted in exchange for a review. The author was not contacted by any of the vendors for a review.

About the Author/Photographer:

Melody Larson has lived in Orlando for 21 years and is a UCF alumna. Her adventures have included bunny yoga, bungee jumping, parasailing, horseback riding on the beach and holding an alligator. Find her @orlandoadventuring on Instagram and www.orlandoadventuring.com. All images copyright Melody Larson unless otherwise noted. The images are not to be used without permission.

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