Philli Chillies - A touch of heat in deepest Norfolk!
Ever wondered what you would do if and when redundancy strikes when you are in your mid 50’s ( not to mention registered as blind!)? Scary and challenging! Well, I decided to start up my own business, Philli Chillies, doing what I love best, gardening and cooking. I have always loved chillies so what better than to focus on them. I now grow more than 35 varieties of chilli (there are thousands!), sell the plants, grow the chillies, harvest and sell them and use them to make delicious chutneys, sauces, relishes, flavoured vinegars and oils.
I began by researching my subject thoroughly and became an expert (!?) on growing and using chillies. My wife did what she does best and trawled book shops for recipe and information books on chillies. I used money inherited from my Mother to buy a large greenhouse (how she would have loved it!) and set about acquiring various essential bits of equipment (seed trays, pots etc).
Next came the exciting bit-choosing the varieties to grow and buying the seeds. Do you know how many shapes, sizes and heat ratings chillies come in? Phew! Glancing at my stock list I see not only the hot varieties such as -Scotch Bonnet (green-red), Rocoto (red -yellow), Naga Jolokia-(green-orange)-but also medium heat chillies-Jalapeno-(green-red) Prairie Fire (green-yellow-orange-red) -and mild almost sweet pepper tasting chillies such as Black Hungarian (black!) and Mulato Isleno ( a gorgeous lime green-chocolate brown).
A year spent growing all 35 varieties soon passed. Many of these plants will grow and thrive outdoors and you will be finding and picking chillies until the first frosts arrive. Others like a greenhouse or windowsill and some, like the Bolivian Rainbow, will reward you with tiny multi coloured chillies to eat and enjoy for months well into the winter! Many of my neighbours bought plants from me and have shared their experiences of growing , cooking and eating the fruits.
After harvesting the chillies a new phase was reached when I began experimenting with various recipes for preserves before deciding on my favourites. I decided that I was more interested in taste than “burn” and all my recipes have a heat rating to allow the “nervous” to taste with confidence and those who know how hot they like their food to have no unexpected surprises! I have converted many an “I don’t like chillies” doubter with a taste of mild chilli chutney!
I then developed, with my three talented daughters’ help, a “corporate logo and identity”-a red chilli on a yellow background-and the name Philli Chillies making my produce instantly and uniquely recognisable.
Having prepared a variety of chilli based chutneys, relishes, oils, vinegars and sauces I then began sell at local fairs, Farmer’s Markets and by word of mouth. I am a member of that excellent organisation Produced In Norfolk and advertise in their brochure together with many other local producers and craftsmen.
I am heavily involved in Great Hockham Farmer’s Market which runs every second Saturday in the Village Hall and sell at Watton Farmers’ Market on the first Saturday of the month, Dickleburgh on the 3rd Sunday and Lopham on the 4th Saturday..
I am also involved in Thetford Healthy Town Festival in August when local people will be encouraged to abandon the take away and pre packaged goods and try cooking with locally sourced foods.
So, if you fancy sampling something a bit different or need a special gift, find us at local outlets and markets as listed in our website www.phillichillies.co.uk or through our e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 01953 498517or call in and see us where you see the logo at Great Hockham!
Phil Brownlow -Philli Chillies