Customer Reviews: The Complete Chile Pepper Book: A Gardener's Guide to Choosing, Growing, Preserving, and Cooking
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on February 4, 2010
this is a good book for those who are not already familiar with chiles (for which "peppers" is a misnomer), have limited gardening experience and/or reference materials, and who want a few recipes wrapped up into a sort of "one stop shopping" text.

it is also a great book for those who wish primarily to concentrate on chile gardening, and who have exhausted more rudimentary texts.

the book offers a modest history of chiles. the cultivation information is pretty extensive and fascinating, and may prove to enhance my gardening experience this season. the canning and preservation sections are very informative, and if you like a sampling of specialty recipes in something other than a cookbook (which i really do not), there are some good looking ones here.

the section actually cataloging individual varieties of chiles left me flat. here dewitt and bosland have listed the "top hundred (or so) chile peppers for the garden", including a brief description of each. the descriptions are often VERY brief, and uninformative. there is no consistency in what can be expected from them, such as quantified heat levels (expressed in "scoville heat units"), flavor characteristics, sizes, expected yields, and typical days to maturity.

the greatest issue i have with this section of the book is the inclusion of only these varieties, leaving out a number of interesting and flavorful chiles, among them hungarians (indeed the only mention of paprika, was in the similarly incomplete "heat scale for chile varieties and commercial products"), and the "fish pepper" (a chesapeake bay favorite). notably, the "peter pepper" IS included, with two sentences ignoring any horticultural, or culinary qualities, and focusing solely on what some might find an unsavory description of its shape and nomenclature (apparently written to enlighten those who might not infer it).

i accept that buying online leaves one with the responsibility for making semi-informed choices and living with them, and that i could have gone to a brick and mortar bookstore, to peruse the contents of this manual. that said, i would have preferred a more exhaustive encyclopedic reference work dealing with the varieties of chiles, and might gladly have purchased as a separate text, the horticultural and preservation information contained herein (the best part of the book). the recipes could have been included in yet another, more extensive specialty cookbook, at a modest price, which i would not have been inclined to put on my shelf.

on the whole, this book is a well illustrated coffee table entertainment, with a 148 page chile horticulture and preservation narrative grafted into the middle of it, and i probably would not have purchased it as it stands, had i leafed through it.

i guess i mainly take exception to the misleading title, as this is certainly not a "complete" chile pepper book.

do not let me stop you from buying it, though- it may be exactly what you are looking for. the gardening and preservation section alone is probably worth the amazon price.
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on June 2, 2010
Like reviewer Davis, the greatest problems I have with this book are the lack of indications of a range of plant sizes and a range of days-to-harvest for the chiles that they deign to cover. They describe the "top hundred (or so) chile peppers for the garden" in fewer than 50 pages (with quite a few excellent photos, though). The amount and type of information given for each chile variety is too variable. For some, but not all entries, you MIGHT find out how big the plant can get, how big the fruit is, what is the heat level (in Scoville units), is it ever a perennial? Both the authors are professors at New Mexico State University. I would be amazed if they would accept a graduate student's thesis with such a degree of inconsistency.

Because they are at NMSU and author Bosland is the Director of the Chile Pepper Institute, I must give credit for their considerably better than usual descriptions of a good number of the "Numex" chiles. For anyone who doesn't know, these were all originally developed at NMSU, with some going back to the late 1800's! (yeah, they have history!) The "Numex" breeding program continues in several directions today.

The cultivation chapter, the longest in the book, is the best. Based on experiences with commercial growers and home gardeners of variable expertise, the book discusses soil preparation and amendments, seed starting and growing on, water issues, too cold, too hot (? surprising!), too little light or too much (again, a surprise). There are some pages on container growing, and just a few hints about hydroponic, aeroponic, and other soil-less grow systems. There is a very good section on diseases and pests. This chapter also includes short sections on chiles as bonsai (yes!) and breeding and hybridizing chiles.

The chapter on processing and preserving chiles has some good points.

The chapter on cooking with chiles should have been left out to make way for a more encyclopedic listing of more varieties of chiles. Get a book written by Diana Kennedy or Rick Bayless if you want recipes.

I've reviewed this book from a library copy and it should probably be recommended to your library if there are many home gardeners in your area. At Amazon's price, I'll probably get a copy for my own library.
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on December 7, 2009
As an amateur gardener, avid cook and, most importantly, a spicy food aficionado, this book really has it all for me. Reading this late in November made me ready to pull out the seed catalogues and start preparing for spring. The authors provide a wealth of information on the subject of chili peppers. The first portion of the book is devoted to gardening. Without turning into a general gardening book, enough basic information is covered to assist the new gardener. I especially appreciated the in-depth description of pepper varieties, both for spring gardening choices, but also for produce shopping.
In addition to a lot of great gardening information and inspirational photography, it provides botanical information, as well. The graphics and charts really contribute to the very readable quality of this book.
But, my favorite part of the book is the recipe section. A number of easy, unusual recipes are included. The pepper infused vodka is so superior to anything you can buy at the store and was a huge hit at Thanksgiving when I used it to make my marinated cherry tomato appetizer! I brought the Double Trouble chocolate truffles to a party and they were the focus of conversation while they lasted! My family's favorites, so far, are Pasta with Green Chile Pesto and Thai Chile and Artichoke Pasta. But, I have a lot more on my list to try. In addition to recipes, a lot of good information is provided on preservation, including candied peppers, salt substitutes, pickling and canning.
A comprehensive glossary, bibliography and resource list provide even more information.
I appreciate having a book in my collection that covers all aspects of peppers. I know where to turn now for gardening questions, and, of course, really interesting recipes!
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on August 5, 2016
Really good books that covers almost all the basics of chile pepper growing. I have been growing peppers for a couple years before I got this book and still learned a ton. This books covers the different chile families, different methods of growing, different planting arrangements, common issues and how to fix them, and also includes some recipes for all the chiles you will be growing.

I have already pulled this book off the shelf multiple times to diagnose issues and to make sure I am doing everything right to maximize my harvests. So far my pepper garden is absolutely exploding with peppers and I think some of that has to do with this book.

I would highly recommend this books to anyone growing chiles whether just a couple plants or a whole green house full of them.
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on November 24, 2015
This is a great pepper book. Great info on all kinds of peppers from all over the world and what I liked most was all the ideas on how to use all those peppers. The picots where also many and good quality. I highly recommend this book if you are really into peppers.
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on March 5, 2013
If you like hot peppers, you will LOVE this book. Wear a bib while reading so you don't drool all over the pictures and the recipies. However this is a dangerous book as soon you'll be growing all the varieties mentioned since they're nearly impossible to obtain locally. Happy sweating.
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on August 7, 2015
Saw the author at WDW giving talk on peppers and had to get the book. Love the complete coverage and history of peppers. Made some of my own hot sauces and was helped immensely by the things I learned in this book!
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on October 11, 2014
Excellent book with more than enough information for most people. My only gripe and small one at best is to add to the top 100 favorite peppers and update your information to include the Carolina Reaper as the hottest pepper. Great book overall!
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on January 28, 2016
Not much detailed information, just touches on every aspect but very little detail. As a brand new grower, I found way more information on random web searches and took very little information away from this book. Also very short book, took maybe 2 days of casual reading to finish all but the cooking section.. Nice to add to the repetoir though I guess.
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on August 22, 2011
Complete...well that's a relative term & I'm not sure if it's possible to have a "complete" book in just one volume, unless it was a massive tome! Nonetheless, this IS a very good book containing much information on the subjects described; even though there are only 5 genera of chiles, there are so many species it's hard to cover them all - but DeWitt & Bosland do a remarkable job covering what they set out to do. It's very informative, helpful & has some tasteful recipes included! I would definitely recommend this highly educational and entertaining book to anyone with a "burning interest" in chiles!
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