A Chile Pepper Primer: Mild to Medium Chiles


rocotillo resize 

Rocotillo pepper.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

I live in Arizona very near to the border of both Old Mexico and New Mexico. Chile peppers are a way of life here but figuring out what’s what can be a bit confusing. Some look the same but have different names. Some don’t look at all the same and have the same name. The dried version can have different name than the fresh. I’m going to attempt to clear up some of this confusion. It’s such a big subject I have to do it in two parts. I’m going to confine this discovery to chiles that we can easily get and grow here in North America. In Part One I’m going to talk about common mild chiles and Part Two I'll talk about hot chiles. I won’t be able to discuss every last chile in the world. This would take a book and there are good ones!

A (Very) Brief History of Chiles

Chiles have been domesticated since pre-Columbian times. The word “pepper” comes from the Sanskrit pippali. Pepper, as we all know, is the, well, peppery dried berry from the Malabar coast of India. Later on in the 16th century, people added the term pepper to the unrelated New World chile and this combination has been confusing us ever since. The name “chile” comes from the Nahuatl word “chilli." The Nahuatl peoples were native to southern Mexico and Central America. This group includes the Aztecs.

Mild Chile Peppers

Let’s start with a few common mild chile peppers that fall on the least heat end of the Scoville heat index*.

Bell Peppers

Scoville Heat Units: 0

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9/30/2021 12:13:53 PM

very thorough article!

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