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Purple Reaper Peppers

The Carolina reaper is cool. Being the hottest pepper on Earth demands a lot of respect. However, I think the purple reaper may be even more awesome (and not just for how it looks).

Purple peppers are nothing new, but growing a purple variant of the hottest pepper in the world is just plain cool. The purple reaper is still unstable, but our plant grew vigorously, producing well over 60 pods in a single season.

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Unripe Purple Carolina Reaper
Purple reaper pepper on plant.

Appearance and Plant

The first thing you’ll notice is that this plant is stunning to look at. Not just the peppers, but the foliage and branches stand out against typical pepper varieties.

The leaves, stems, and pods are a dark purple, almost black color. The more sunlight they receive, the darker they will become. This is thanks to high levels of anthocyanins, or purple pigments.

As the peppers ripen, they turn from deep purple/green to a rich, almost burgundy red. However, the stems remain their dark purple color, making them really stand out.

Purple reaper peppers ripe and unripe
Unripe and ripe purple reapers.

Aside from the beautiful coloration, the plant was also very fast growing, and grew to be quite large. Planting in the ground in New England leads to somewhat reduced plant size (since we have to wait until early June to transplant).

However, the purple reaper plant still achieved a height of around 5 feet, the tallest in our in-ground bed! All of this despite being eaten by deer on multiple occasions. I can’t imagine the surprise of those poor deer if they accidentally chomped into a fruit…


Heat

I love spicy food, but I am no Johnny Scoville. However, I did take a bite of a fresh purple reaper to test the heat, and I was impressed. I have tried many superhots, but this one seemed a cut above the rest.

There hasn’t been any Scoville testing for the purple reaper, but I imagine it is equivalent to the Carolina reaper. This means the purple reaper likely averages around 1,600,000 SHUs on the Scoville scale!

Purple reaper pod ripe next to plant
Ripe purple reaper pepper.

I even sampled a purple reaper against a normal Carolina reaper, and found the purple variety to be more of a challenge. This is purely anecdotal, but the purple reaper seems more fierce!


Flavor

When it comes to flavor, the Carolina reaper was never my favorite. It just doesn’t have that fruity and welcoming sweetness that some of the Caribbean varieties do.

Unfortunately, the purple reaper is no different. It tastes fine, but it was slightly bitter, and, in my opinion, overly floral. If you grow these, don’t do it for the taste, do it for the heat.

Unripe purple reaper pepper
Unripe purple reaper pod.

Seeds and Growing

If you’d like to grow purple reapers yourself, try finding some seeds on our favorite places to buy pepper seeds online. The place we got our seeds no longer has them in stock, so browse around and hopefully you’ll have some luck.

Growing superhots can be a challenge, especially if you live in a very cold climate. The plants require a long season, so starting seeds indoors early is a must.

Purple Reaper Peppers with Foliage
Purple reapers and foliage (unripe pods).

The world of strange and interesting pepper varieties continues to grow. This is one of the reasons we became Pepper Geeks in the first place, and I can’t wait to see what the future will bring.

Calvin Thumbnail

Calvin

One of the original Pepper Geeks! When Calvin isn’t gardening or learning more about peppers and botany, he might be traveling new places or playing some music.