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Thread: All About Chili Peppers
October 16th, 2005, 12:43 PM #1
All About Chili Peppers
All About Chili Peppers
Wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water when you are through handling peppers.
Rub your hands with cooking oil before handling hot peppers if you feel it is impossible to work with rubber gloves. The oil protects the skin.
Soak your hands in milk to soothe them if you feel the tingling irritation that is a sign of pepper burn.
Flush eyes immediately with cold water if a hot pepper comes in contact with the eyes or mucous membranes.
From the outside, there is no sure-fire way to tell how hot a chili is, but a few guidelines will make the task easier.
Here is a flavor guide to chilis:
Remember that the smallest, thin-fleshed or narrowest peppers are the hottest. That's because they are more primitive, and the closer they are to the original wild peppers, the hotter they are. The same is true for small, pea-shaped or roundish peppers. They are very hot.
The larger, wider and thicker the chili, the more ''advanced'' and the milder it is. To cultivate cooler varieties with more substance and weight, people have been developing larger chilis for centuries.
Following this logic, the long, pencil-thin japones chilis (No. 13) will be much hotter than the thick, heavy-fleshed poblano chilis (No. 1).
The elongated, but thick California chilis (No. 14) are somewhere in between. But watch out; chili plants cross-pollinate in the blink of an eye, leading to hundreds of local varieties and new chili types.
The following is a list of some well-known chilis.
1. Poblano: Mild to mildly hot. Its thick, sturdy flesh is very flavorful, similar to a bell pepper. Frequently stuffed with cheese for chilis rellenos. Also good in fresh salsas, cooked sauces and Mexican foods.
2. California (canned): Usually mild. The vein, skin and peel already are removed. Use in salsas, enchiladas and baked dishes.
3. Serrano: Very hot. Sometimes sold pickled and fresh. Good in moderation in salsas, Caribbean and African stews and Oriental dishes.
4. Jalapeno: Very hot. Often sold pickled or fresh. Jalapenos are frequently used to add hotness but little flavor to nachos, salsas, conch salads and ceviche. (See also chipotle.)
5. New Mexico Red (dried): Variable, mild to hot. This is the shiny, brick red ristra, or strung chili of the Southwest. It has a deep, full flavor and rich aroma. Use to make cooked sauces, enchiladas, beans, or chili con carne.
6. Guajillo: Hot. Dried red Mexican chili used to make cooked red sauces for meat or chicken. Often sold ground or crushed.
7. Chipotle (canned): Very hot. Smoked, dried jalapeno peppers usually imported from Mexico. They have an exotic, smoky taste and are traditional in the Mexican meat marinating sauce called adobo. For less heat in stews or sauces, mix with other dried chiles, such as ancho, pasilla negro, New Mexican red or California.
8. Chipotle (dried): Very hot. Use the same way as canned, but soak in water to soften skin.
9. Pasilla Negro: Medium to hot. Dried Mexican chile. One traditional ingredient in mole, the famous Mexican sauce made of seeds, spices, chili and unsweetened chocolate. Use also in other Mexican cooked sauces.
10. California (dried): Mild. Usually sold ground and made into chili powders and chili mixes. Use in sauces, stews, beans and chili con carne.
11. Ancho (dried): Mild to medium. The traditional Mexican chile for mole. Ancho is very flavorful because it's the dried poblano chili. Use in red sauces, salsas, stews and chili con carne.
12. Mulato (dried): Mild to medium. A flavorful Mexican chili sometimes confused with ancho. It's darker and slightly larger, but can be used in place of ancho, New Mexican red or California chilis.
13. Japones (dried): Very hot. Sometimes called Hontaka, this chili is widely used in Oriental, Latin American and Caribbean cooking.
14. California (fresh): Mild. Can be very flavorful when roasted and peeled. Use in salsas, enchiladas, chilis rellenos and green chili stew.
15. Guero: Very hot. Shiny Mexican chilis sometimes confused with Hungarian Wax peppers or yellow jalapenos. Use in Latin American, Oriental, Caribbean and African cooking.
HOW HOT IS HOT?
In 1912 pharmacologist Wilbur Scoville devised a system to determine the degree of heat in chili peppers. That system measures pepper heat in Scoville units.
The more Scoville units, the hotter the pepper. The hotter the pepper, the greater the body's physiological response. Experts say chilies offer a mother lode of medicinal benefits.
Here's a sampler of chilies, from searing to mild.
Scoville Units Chili Rating (approx.) Varieties
10 100,000 - 300,000 Habanero, Bahamian
9 50,000 - 100,000 Santaka, Chiltepin, Thai
8 30,000 - 50,000 Aji, Rocoto, Piquin, Cayenne, Tabasco
7 15,000 - 30,000 de Arbol
6 5,000 - 15,000 Yellow wax, Serrano
5 2,500 - 5,000 Jalapeno, Mirasol
4 1,500 - 2,500 Sandia, Cascabel
3 1,000 - 1,500 Ancho, Pasilla, Espanola
2 500 - 1,000 NuMex, Big Jim
1 100 - 500 Mexi-Bell, Cherry
0 0 Mild bells, Pimento, Sweet banana
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