This was also the first year using gloves, which rescued me from hours and days of intense pain. The amount of pigment and capsacin that accumulates on the gloves, knife, cutting board, and counter is remarkable. As is the variation of number of seeds, wall thickness, ease of extraction, and liquid content in each type of pepper. Add to that the acrid fumes that fill the work area and it is quite sneezing, coughing, eye watering good fun! The big surprise is the Fatalii cross that arose from one of my plantings. Fatalii is a Habanero relative, but one of my seedlings had purplish foliage, indicating a cross. The plant that resulted from this purple tinged seedling was a monster, 4 feet tall, well branched, with slender, 3 inch long colorful peppers (deep lavendar to yellow to orange to deep red, as they ripened) similar to a Thai type of pepper, and nothing like the wrinkled, bright orange fruit that Fatalii produces when in the pure state. As I cut those slender red peppers I expected nothing worse than the typical capsacin aroma from C. annum varieties. Imagine my surprise when the ripe fruity/cherry aroma and sneeze-inducing extreme heat of the Fatalii character filled the air!
Pepper seeds are easy to save from that point on - I loosely stack the just-extracted seeds on labeled paper plates, one type per plate. Our dining room table is strewn with the piles of plates. After a few days, I carefully separate the plates (a few seeds always get stuck to the bottom of the plates and care is needed to ensure they are released back to the correct plate!), use a business card to scrape the seeds apart and off of the plate and move them into a loose single layer. After a few weeks of further drying, they are ready to be placed into air proof containers (plastic or glass vials), labeled, and readied for next growing season or sharing with others.