Before Amazon at the previous apartment I grew a dozen varieties in small pots. I purchased the seeds online before noticing a package of dried chile pods in an Asian market. Each pod of Thai type chile contains a few seeds within it, sometimes up to a dozen, sometimes more. I could have started an entire chile farm from that single package of culinary pods. So long as the pods are not roasted, that would denature the seeds, then the seeds are still viable.
I spent a good deal of cash for the seeds. A few dollars each for tiny packages of 10 or so seeds plus shipping. It would have been much less expensive buying culinary pods, I'd have lot more seeds and the advantage is having pods for cooking.
Seeds from grocery store fresh chiles will also grow so long as the chile is not green. Green chiles are immature, the seeds within not fully developed. I tried that with green jalapeños and they didn't germinate. However, when shopping you'll notice a chile here and there beginning to change color and that would indicated the seeds inside it are most likely ready. Red ones and orange ones will have seeds that are viable.
All chiles, no matter the kind, no matter the name, no matter the country that made them famous, all of them originate from Central America. Another fantastic food item Columbus brought back to Europe that changed the world. There was no such thing as paprika until Europeans ventured across the Atlantic. Even Japanese chiles, Thai chiles and the hottest of all, ghost chiles from India, the famous piri piri of Portugal, bird's eye of South Africa, all originated in Central America. It is the terroir of those places that makes any difference, and it is the marketing of those places that made them famous while Central America sits there quietly not bragging at all about being progenitor to all of those chile types. All of them. Even the lantern types.
There are three botanical types. All that becomes very scientific and not particularly interesting
The point I want to make is what fantastic houseplants these make, how easy they are to get going, how forgiving, and how splendid the success with them. They are annuals that can behave as perennial. It is possible to get a few years out of them. I had one habanero plant that lived for three years inside, and when its time came there was no saving it. I read a woman who kept an upright type as bonsai plant taking the pot inside and out for five years at her writing. I can imagine her disappointment when it died, if it did. Surely it did by now. One becomes attached to them after all that. Producing flowers and chiles season after season like that.
A visiting friend marveled at my pequin plant. He grew up in New Mexico. I was pronouncing it pee-kin-yo, he corrected, pay-keen. He insouciantly squeezed one then popped it into his mouth. His eyes bulged and teared, he sweated, his nose ran, he cursed, "Jesus Christ! That little sonofabitch is hot!" A few minutes later he used my bathroom, then sitting down for dinner he pushed away from the table and complained with a worried look, "My dick is burning! My balls are on fire. It's getting worse. This is really bad" I said, "go back in there strip and shower, here's some oil to carry it off, then soap all the oil off." It's the only thing he could do. What a bummer. There's nothing funny about it.
Those tiny peppers are the hottest of all. The pequins are called bird's eye in South Africa, and piri piri elsewhere, although there is disagreement on that, a good deal of confusion, the leaves are different sizes grown in different places, but it is the same heat and the same lingering flavor. They spread in Africa naturally due to birds being immune to capsaicin heat. They eat the berry whole and deliver the undigested seed randomly encased in its own fertilizer packet across the whole of South Africa.
Now, this is a fine hobby to take up. Due to the ease such that even birds do it and its brilliant results. These plants will keep you interested. Watching them grow will keep you faithful watering, concerned for their light requirements. They become your living pets. They are fascinating.
Have a look, if you will, at the impressive varieties and range of colors and shapes in Google images [chile plants].
Come on. Who doesn't want that?
A brief tour of chiles available through Amazon shows the ridiculousness of buying seeds compared to the smartness of buying culinary pods.
50 Pequin seeds, $9.00 Prime
That's a very nice photograph too.
Dried Pequin pods, $7.25 Prime
You could make an outstanding sauce with these pods.
Pequin pods, $6.90 free shipping
You could line your whole driveway with these chile plants. Each pod will have a few tiny seeds.
Look, the same thing goes with piri piri.
Piri piri pods from Portugal, $4.95, free shipping
~40 Piri Piri seeds, $5.50, free shipping
See? Pod > seeds.
This system of hacking the chile seed provider source does not work for all types of chiles that may strike your fancy. Some attractive types are not used culinarily. Their flavor deemed less useful. The Bolivian rainbow plants are grown for decoration and not culinary use. The banana chile is used in some restaurants, I've seen it on menus, but only the seeds are available on Amazon. For two examples from hundreds of chile choices.
Bolivian chile plant
It just bugs me they ask so much for seeds, for the Hot Lightning D3637PEP Yellow hybrid, they're asking $8.00 for a package of 50 seeds, when we know each pod will have dozens. The plants are attractive, yes, but similar chiles are available fresh at the grocery and there you will have pod and its seeds.