When I was knee-high to an angry headmaster, I was a whizz at marbles. Lying on my belly, I could roll those mesmerizingly colourful little spheres what seemed like ten or twenty feet across the playground, to clack into my opponents’, and I’d go home with his too. Kids love them (or used to, before we invented video games, ADHD and Ritalin). Marbles Hot peppers are about the same size, and are just as beautiful. Under a spray of white flowers, Marbles Hots grow into a striking rainbow of gorgeous little round fruits. Pretty similar then. Except, Marbles Hots can quietly harbour a kick like a scorned mule. Perhaps not for small people then.
Varying between individual plants, Marbles Hot peppers contain quite a broad range of capsaicin levels. Some offer a mild tease of 300 to 500 Scoville Heat Units – about the same friendly slap you’d get from various types of Tabasco sauce. Other Marbles Hots meanwhile, provide a more full-on punch. The FBI (Fire-Breathing Idiot), or Ted to his friends – the chilli aficionado and famous taster – rates some Marbles Hots (of the Aji Bolivian variety) at 55,000 SHU’s. That’s around 15 times hotter than a fiery Jalepeño, and is not to be sneezed at. Of course, this is incomparable to the Titans of the chilli world – the 7 Pots, Morugas, Nagas and the like, but not everyone is up for dicing with rocket fuel at dinnertime. Marbles Hots offer a respectable, manageable, pleasant heat.
Another Marbles Hots reviewer offered: “They are HOT! I thought they would be milder and bit into one and wasn’t expecting the good amount of heat I got”.
And how do they taste? Back to the FBI (bless his singed soul) and his respected opinions on the matter: “fruity, very sweet”. Thank you Ted. They make a tasty and endearingly colourful addition to salsas, salads and sauces.
Chilli gurus are happily messing with breeds all the time, to create extra-pretty or (more commonly) extra-hot strains. But as far as I know, at present there are for now 4 varieties of Marbles Hot pepper: the good old standard Marbles Hot, Holiday Marbles Hot, Marbles 5-Colour Hot, and Aji Bolivian Marbles Hot.
Marbles Hot peppers are of the taxonomic group Capsicum annuum, and grow ½-inch-wide round chillies. They turn from green to cream or white, then yellow, orange, purple, and then red when mature. The small Marbles Hot pepper plants are adored by gardeners for their beauty. Marbles Hots are all over many farmers’ markets and horticultural shows as ‘edible ornamentals’. Oregon State University, USA, had a hand in manipulating them to the form they are in now, but they are said to originate from either South America or Mexico. Serious gardening website myfolia.com says from Mexico. My money’s on them.
Holiday Marbles Hots can be less colourful, usually green or red. They perhaps get their name from the opinion that they – as furthered by Reimer Seeds – make great ornamental plants for the holidays. How cute. But that doesn’t help us chilliheads.
Marbles 5-Colour Hots are as Holiday Marbles Hots, but instead of turning green to red, they bring pleasure to the eyeballs by going from white to yellow, to purple, to orange, to red when mature.
They can be classed as ‘hot’, ranging in pungency from 5,000 to 30,000 Scoville Units (thanks Dave’s Garden for those figures).
Aji Bolivian Marbles Hots are the most ferocious, some over 50,000 SHU’s, and hail from (zero points for guessing) Bolivia.
Marbles Hots and other chilli peppers are also astoundingly good for us. They stimulate the metabolism. They fight cancer. They help diabetics. They are vitamin-rich and contain immune-boosting antioxidants. They reduce cholesterol… click on the Benefits of Peppers header of our website for the comprehensive rundown of the amazing and reassuring things they have in their health-giving arsenal.