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Aji Limo

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ají Limo is a Peruvian chili that is vibrant in color and varies from yellow, green, red, or purple.  The chili packs quite a punch and can be quite hot, in fact it registers in on the Scoville scale as 5,000 to 30,000 Scoville units or just plain HOT!  The chili itself is a unique species of the chili pepper, known scientifically as Capsicum baccatum of which other popularly known Peruvian ajís belong to. 

Ají limo is the fruit that grows on the South American plant called Capsicum Baccatum var. Pendulum (which belongs to the family of Magnoliopsida: Asteridae: Solanales: Solanaceae), a plant identifiable by it's cream coloured floweres w/ green/gold corolla markings on them.  The ají limo is typically elongated but also can be found in it's short and stubby size as well.  Common to the Andes region the ají limo grows at mid-elevation altitudes, but is also grown along the coast and in the northern Amazonían jungles of Peru.  Ají limo along with all other baccatums are credited for their great resistance to cold temperatures and weather, making them great candidates for cultivation in the many parts of the US.   

The Ají was discovered by archeologists and historians to have been a principle food ingredient of many Peruvian indiginous groups, with several ceramics created in the spicy fruit's honor.  In Perú, the ají limo is a staple ingredient along with all its other varieties among the people of the Sierra (highlands/andes region) and Costa (coast).  In Quechua, the word for ají is "Uchu".  Ají limo is most commonly used in fresh form but can also be found dehydrated, dried, diced, frozen, canned, jarred, in many markets in Perú.  Eat in a cebicheria in Lima and you will soon find that ají limo is used with great frequency in many seafood dishes like choritos a la chalaca, sudado, tiraditos, just to name a few.     

Today like with other ají's, the ají limo is exported to markets, restaurants, and homes all over the world as the spicy chili continues to gain popularity and awareness.  In the US ají limo can be purchased in many markets for those looking to purchase the chili in whole form.  Those interested in growing ají limo can purchase it through several seed companies who market it under the following names: ‘Aji Limón,’ ‘Lemon Drop’ and ‘Peru Yellow.’ 

For those interested in purchasing ají seeds here is a link to an author who provides a few reliable sources as well as planting tips/advice for growing the chili. 

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