Most days you’ll find Lew Edmister at Herb’n Gardener, his urban farm at 17th Street Street and Belleview Avenue.
By ANDREA SHORES
There, on Kansas City’s West Side, Edmister grows arugula, chard, kale and more. But what really attracted a following is what Edmister does with his organic Anaheim peppers. He smokes them.
On Fridays at the Badseed Farmers’ Market, Edmister sells so many of the peppers that he now has to buy from other organic growers to meet demand.
Every weekend you can find Edmister tending to his peppers. He lays the Anaheim peppers horizontally in a barrel smoker over cherry-wood chips he sources from Tonganoxie.
Like most Kansas Citians, I associate the low-and-slow method of smoking with pork, but Edmister says it’s key to smoking his peppers, too, because the method draws the peppers’ heat from the ribbing and the seeds into the skin.
The reason Edmister uses Anaheim peppers is because they have the lowest heat value, which appeals to more people, and are large with an adequate amount of “meat” on the inside, meaning there is more to go around.
Edmister sells his smoked peppers frozen by the half pound and uses them to enhance soups, stews and chili.
I recently diced a smoked Anaheim and added it to a Chilled Corn Soup I made and its smoky heat was the perfect complement to the silky soup.
The pepper skin is easy to remove and Edmister recommends keeping the seeds and ribbing in order to maintain some of the heat and flavor. After using just one pepper I was glad I bought two pounds to stock my freezer.
Now I am looking forward to cooler temps when I plan to enhance my favorite Cuban Black Bean recipe and Kimchi Chili with the flavor of smoke and heat.
Raised by generations of cooks, farmers and green thumbs, Andrea Shores is an enthusiastic eater and curious cook. She loves sharing her passion for local food by telling farmers’ and food purveyors’ stories.