The Datil is an exceptionally hot pepper, a variety of the species Capsicum chinense. The correct pronounciation is: DAA-til (sounds like the A in Dad).
Most visitors to St. Augustine, Florida, have never heard of St. Augustine’s most beloved treasure, the Datil pepper, but it has been the centerpiece of Old Florida cuisine since the 1800s. The plant typically grows to be around one to two and a half feet tall and bears elongated yellow/orange colored peppers. The plant takes about five months to mature and has been affected by pepper weevils and adverse weather conditions.
Datils are as hot or hotter than habaneros but have a sweeter, fruitier flavor especially when fully ripe. Their level of spiciness may be anywhere from 350,000 to 450,000 Scoville units. Mature peppers are about 3.5 inches long and yellow-orange in color.
Datil peppers are cultivated throughout the United States and elsewhere, but the majority are produced in St. Augustine, Florida. Although local lore suggests Datils were brought to St. Augustine by indentured workers from Minorca in the late 18th century, it is more likely they were brought from Chile around 1880 by a jelly maker named S. B. Valls. Datil peppers are used by the Minorcan community in many recipes. There are many commercial manufacturers of Datil pepper products in St. Augustine, and there is an annual Datil Pepper Festival in the fall.