Hot Peppers: The Flouring Inferno

Want to amp up your cooking? Here's a little info about assorted hot peppers and some recipes to get you started.

| December 1998/January 1999

  • 171-hot-peppers-06-habaneros.jpg
    With a Scoville unit rating of up to 300,000, habaneros are the hottest of the hot peppers. They are lantern-shaped and usuallyyellow-orange in color, though sometimes red. Don't eat them raw unless you want to blast off.
    ILLUSTRATION: KRISTINE REAM
  • 171-hot-peppers-08-poblano.jpg
    The poblano is a skinny, darker version of green pepper with just enough hot stuff to make recipes more lively. If ripened until they turn red or a brownish-red, they'll become hot. Poblanos are great roasted, and can be frozen raw or roasted in freezer bags. Use in omelettes and bean salads.
    KRISTINE REAM
  • 171-hot-peppers-02-ancho.jpg
    The ancho is a smoked and dried poblano, which transforms it into a brownish wrinkled chili. It can be found in Latino grocery stores and is rehydrated to make sauces and soups, giving dishes a smoky flavor.
    KRISTINE REAM
  • 171-hot-peppers-09-chipotle.jpg
    A chipotle pepper is just a smoked and dried jalapeño, which is usually found canned at the Mexican grocery or in the imported foods aisle. Chipotles add a rich, smoky flavor to salsas and sauces.
    KRISTINE REAM
  • 171-hot-peppers-07-anaheim.jpg
    Long, lime green Anaheim chilies are usually mild (sweet), so they're a perfect replacement for green peppers in salads. Since they have a thick skin, they can also be roasted, peeled, and added to recipes. 
    KRISTINE REAM
  • 171-hot-peppers-01-banana.jpg
    Banana peppers are crisp, pale yellow to orange-red,  mild to slightly hot, and easy to grow. Like the Anaheim, they can be used as a sweet pepper.  
    KRISTINE REAM
  • 171-hot-peppers-03-jalapeno.jpg
    Probably the most flrequently used and most available chili, jalapeño peppers are picked green commercially. If ripened until they're red they're even hotter. This firm, compact chili is easy to chop up and use in dishes that call for some heat.
    KRISTINE REAM
  • 171-hot-peppers-04-cayenne.jpg
    Bright red cayenne peppers usually grow to about six inches in length. These chilies are typically dried and ground into spice powder or used for bottled hot sauces.
    KRISTINE REAM
  • 171-076-i09
    With a Scoville unit rating of up to 300,000, habaneros are the hottest of the hot peppers. They are lantern-shaped and usuallyyellow-orange in color, though sometimes red. Don't eat them raw unless you want to blast off.
    ILLUSTRATION: KRISTINE REAM
  • 171-hot-peppers-05-serrano.jpg
    Serranos are a green, bullet-shaped, firm pepper with a fresh flavor and consistent level of heat that make them perfect for salsas.
    KRISTINE REAM

  • 171-hot-peppers-06-habaneros.jpg
  • 171-hot-peppers-08-poblano.jpg
  • 171-hot-peppers-02-ancho.jpg
  • 171-hot-peppers-09-chipotle.jpg
  • 171-hot-peppers-07-anaheim.jpg
  • 171-hot-peppers-01-banana.jpg
  • 171-hot-peppers-03-jalapeno.jpg
  • 171-hot-peppers-04-cayenne.jpg
  • 171-076-i09
  • 171-hot-peppers-05-serrano.jpg

Everyone, it seems, has their own story about hot peppers. Maybe you've burst out of a Thai restaurant with sweat oozing from your every pore. Perhaps in your ancient past there's a hot pepper fraternity initiation. Or you might have taken revenge on your bratty little brother by poisoning his food, otherwise known as "the hot pepper pudding incident." (I never stooped to such a level; my tactics were more devious, as my brothers will testify.)

My own chili experiences consist of burning my hands, face, and eyes, and trashing my contact lenses, due to improper chili handling. I've had repeat performances, because I was in a cooking frenzy and didn't feel like wearing surgical gloves.

My son has a weird reaction if he eats a food that's too hot and spicy for him; he hiccups nonstop for about ten minutes. He's the in-house hot meter. If Matt hiccups, then Mom overdid it with Dad's garden peppers.

Before my husband's garden existed, a chili was considered a dangerously hot pepper, only to be used sparingly in Mexican food. It never occurred to us that each variety of chili has its own distinct flavor and unique hotness. So what makes a chili so damned hot? The heat comes from capsaicinoids, which act on your mouth's pain receptors, resulting in tearing eyes, runny nose, and a sweating body. A euphoric high then occurs when your brain releases endorphins in response to the pain caused by the peppers. Capsaicin (capSAY-ah-sin) is an oil found mainly in the veins, or white parts, of the chili, which can be removed for a milder flavor. It's also a good idea to remove the seeds with the veins so you won't find any floating in your salsa. The heat of a pepper is measured by Scoville units, developed in 1912 by food scientist Wilbur Scoville. For example, a bell pepper without any capsaicin would be zero, a jalapeño rates about 4,000 units, and a habanero chili scores up to 300,000 units. In general, the smaller and pointier the pepper, the hotter it tastes.



After reminiscing on our hot pepper experiences, we wonder why we'd want to continue to consume the hot stuff. Aside from flavoring the food, chilies have other benefits. They contain cancer-fighting antioxidants such as beta carotene and are high in vitamins A and C. Capsaicin helps you to bum more calories by increasing your metabolism, and it stimulates circulation in the stomach and intestine, resulting in better digestion. Cayenne pepper lowers cholesterol by lowering the LDLs (low density lipids) without affecting the HDLs (high density lipids). Research has disproved the theory that peppers cause ulcers and intestinal damage. People with existing ulcers may want to check with their doctors before eating peppers.

Growing peppers is as fun as eating them. Here are a few ideas for storing your garden chilies.






Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: February, 16-17 2019
Belton, TX

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

LEARN MORE






Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters