A relative of the Red Cayenne pepper, the Charleston pepper was created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in an effort to create a pepper variety that was resistant to root-knot nematode – a parasite that attacks the roots of plants. The Charleston pepper is nematode resistant. It was not bred for its heat, but it is much hotter than a traditional Red Cayenne. It’s almost as hot as an Habanero pepper, but with a great Cayenne flavor. The Charleston pepper is a popular option for those seeking a flavorful pepper that is hotter than the Red Cayenne pepper. In fact, the Charleston pepper is nearly double the spiciness of the Red Cayenne pepper and still delivers a delicious Cayenne flavor. The Charleston pepper can be used fresh in hot sauces and salsas, and it’s a terrific pepper for drying to use as a powder or as pepper flakes in a variety of foods including pasta and pizza.
Charleston peppers range from 70,000 to 100,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). They are relatively easy to grow, and the plant itself has a compact profile that works for smaller spaces and container gardening.