Lemon Drop Pepper – Origin, Flavor, Uses, Heat Reviewed

Aji Lemon Drop, also known as Aji Limo or Aji Limon, is a deliciously flavorful Andean pepper that has been popular long before the Columbian times. The bright yellow pods and the clean, sharp, and citrus flavor of lemon are the distinctive features of this pepper. All the more, it’s spicy enough to make your dishes hot. Adding a few finely chopped slices of this pepper can produce flavor, color, and heat to a dish.

If a combination of citrus tang and peppery spice is appealing to you, then you must learn about the lemon drop pepper. Disappointingly, it’s a scarce and rarely found chili outside Peru. Growing in popularity, today this chili has many takers, both for eating and ornamental purposes.

What are Lemon Drop Peppers?

The Lemon Drop chili or Aji Limon is a citrus-like, hot, lemon-flavored yellow pepper, a Peruvian seasoning pepper. In Peru, it’s known as qillu uchu. A member of the baccatum species, the lemon drop is a cone pepper that measures around 60 mm long and 12 mm wide.

The Aji Limo plant is a typical representative of the species Capsicum baccatum. On average, the plant grows to a height of 4.5 feet and grows upright with multiple branches. The leaves are narrow and dark green, and the plant produces whitish flower petals with green spots on the base. It’s a high-yielding capsicum plant that produces about 100 fruits in a year; the first batch of fruits ripens in about 80 days of planting. The waxy-skinned fruit turns from light green to golden yellow when fully ripe.

Key Facts In A Gist 

  • Origin: Peru
  • Capsicum species: Baccatum
  • Scoville: 15,000 – 30,000 SHU
  • Median heat: 22,500 SHU
  • Size: Ranges from 2 to 3 inches long, tapered
  • Flavor: Sweet, Fruity, Citrusy
  • Color: Changes from light green to golden yellow
  • Use: Culinary and ornamental

Aji Lemon Pepper Scoville

Don’t take this lemony pepper light-heartedly. It’s not only tangy but surprisingly hot as well. The heat is meaningful but not overwhelming. Aji Limo’s heat ranges between 15,000 to 30,000 SHU on the Scoville Scale.

Yes, it’s a medium-hot pepper that comes in the range of more popular chilies like cayenne and tabasco peppers. In comparison to Jalapeno, lemon drop pepper is four to twelve times spicier.

A well-balanced ratio of heat and tanginess makes this chili equally favorable for both spicy f00d lovers and citrus food fans. To your advantage, the heat does not overshadow the other flavors or your recipe.

Known to produce an instant bout of heat, Aji Limon doesn’t have a lingering heat like most other hot peppers.

How Does It Taste Like?

The name “lemon” attached to this pepper is already an indication of its strong citrusy taste. In short, it tastes like a true lemon. However, the taste of chili or any fruit will vary according to the growing conditions, the taste buds of the user, and the maturity of the fruit. Basically, it has a lemony taste with rich notes of fruits and lemongrass. The fruitiness of this pepper is comparable to Scotch Bonnet or Habanero, though they are hotter. If you are in for a medium-hot pepper, then Aji Lemon Drop pepper is a good substitute for Scotch Bonnet and Habanero.

Uses of Aji Lemon Drop Pepper

Packed with a good punch of heat and a wonderful lemony tang, the Aji Limo pepper is excellent for citrus-based hot sauces and spicy salsas. The fruitiness of this pepper is a wonderful addition to any medium-hot vegetable dish. Similarly, the cluster of citrusy flavor and medium heat in this pepper can be a wonderful addition to most types of chicken and fish dishes. Also, this chili works great as a garnish or fresh squeeze of lemon over grilled meats, fish, and vegetable dishes; it adds elegant color and flavor to them. In Peru, Aji Lemon Drop is a regular ingredient in several hot chips and spicy snacks. Lemon drop pepper powder is a popular condiment used for adding tang and heat to slices of fruits, juices, popcorn, soups, sauces, and many more.

Where to Get Aji Lemon Drop Pepper?

The cultivation and popularity of Aji Limon are mostly limited to a few regions in Peru. Honestly, it’s hard to find this citrus-flavored golden yellow fresh pepper outside Peru. Probably, you’ll have to search for local farmers who grow this chili in your locality. With little effort, you can get dried and ground versions of this pepper, as well as its heirloom seeds, from online vendors in popular e-commerce portals. There is no better option than growing this chili in your home garden for your use in cooking.

Other Varieties of Aji Peppers

There are many different strains of Peruvian and South American aji peppers and here are the links to some of the most popular aji peppers: