Many varieties of chili peppers are obtainable in the market, each with a unique flavor, color, shape and heat factor. Chilli pepper, chilli, chillie, chili, or chile, or chili hot peppers are the different names of Chili Pepper depending on region. Chili Peppers are classified into two ways such as heat and shape.
Chili pepper is the fruit of the plants belonging to the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Chili peppers are mainly grown in California, New Mexico, and Texas in the United States. Chili peppers derived in the Americas and are indigenous to South and Central America. Since at least 7500 BC, chili peppers have been a part of the human diet in the Americas. One of the first Europeans to come across chili peppers was Christopher Columbus who named them “peppers” as their similarity in taste with the Old World black peppers of the Piper genus.
The fiery or sharp taste is attributed to a chemical component called capsaicin which is the active ingredient in chili peppers. Capsaicin arouses the skin membrane with sensation of “pain” or “hotness”. In a chili pepper around 80 percent of the capsaicin is in its ribs and seeds. Capsaicin and four connected chemicals together named as capsaicinoids. Every capsaicinoid has a different result on the mouth and different varieties produce conflicting sensations because of variation in the proportions of these chemical. If capsaicin is consumed in large amounts, it causes pain and inflammation and on contact in high concentrations can even burn the skin.
Types of Chili Peppers
In the mountainous regions of the Mexican states of Puebla and Hidalgo the serrano pepper is originated. Raw serrano is green in color and ripens to red, brown, orange, or yellow. It is usually 1-2 inch long and fleshy to eat. Serrano pepper has thin walls and generally used in salsa and sauces. The serrano pepper taste is crisp, bright, and biting, notably about 5 times hotter than the Jalapeno pepper. As they are fleshy, they don’t dry well. 10,000 to 25,000 is the Scoville rating of serrano pepper.
The habanero chilies are one of the hottest chilies and also named as the Chinese pepper. The shape of habanero chilies are like small lantern and have thin-walls as well as fruity taste. Habanero is derived from ‘Havana’ and common colors are green, orange and red, but white, brown, and pink are also seen. Habanero is two and half inches long and has a unique floral flavor, and a very strong heat that affects the nasal passages. 100,000–350,000 is the Scoville rating of Habanero chili peppers. It is used as a seasoning for sauces, marinades and chutneys.
Bell peppers are roundly shaped and come in diverse sizes and colors such as red, green, red, orange, yellow, purple, brown and black. Bell peppers are commonly consumed in its unripe form as they are not hot as they contain some or no capsaicin. For any of the large bell shaped capsicum the word “bell pepper” or “pepper” or “capsicum” is used in spite of their color. Compared to red, yellow or orange peppers, green are less sweet and slightly bitter. Red peppers have more vitamins and nutrients as well as include the antioxidant lycopene. Red peppers have twice the vitamin C content of green peppers and the level of carotene is also nine times higher.
The poblano chilies are green mild-tasting medium-sized chilies which are originating in the State of Puebla. Dried poblano chilies are recognized as ancho chilies. It comes in heart shape and it is generally used for stuffing. Poblano chilies have thick walls. Ancho chilies are about 3 inches wide and 4 inches long with a sweet hot flavor. Poblano peppers have deep purple-green color when immature and as they age ultimately turn dark red and black. 1,000 – 2,000 is the Scoville rating of the poblano chilies.
Jalapeno chilies are green medium-sized cylindrical shaped chilies and its name is derived from the Xalapa of Mexico. They are very hot and used in Mexican food. It is about 4-6 inches long and smoked jalapeno chili pepper is called chipotle. Jalapeno chilies are short and stubby with thick meaty walls. Jalapeno heat level differs from mild to hot depending on agriculture and preparation. While cutting, skinning, or seeding Jalapenos some handlers wear latex or vinyl gloves. 2,500 – 8,000 is the Scoville rating of the Jalapeno chilies.
The word Cayenne is originated from the city of Cayenne in French Guiana and it is also recognized as Guinea spice, Ginnie pepper, Cow Horn pepper, finger chili, and bird pepper. Cayenne pepper is one of the most common chili pepper which is long, curved peppers with two cells and thin crumpled skin. It is green to red in color around 2 to 3 inches long and 1/2 inch in diameter. Cayenne pepper is hot in taste and used to flavor dishes as well as for medicinal purposes. Cayenne pepper is used in the form of spices by drying and powdering the cayenne seeds and skin. 30,000 to 50,000 is the Scoville rating of the Cayenne pepper.
Birds eye Chili:
Bird’s eye chili is usually found in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore. It is used as traditional dishes of the Kerala in India. It is 1 inch long and has lot of heat. Bird’s eye chili word is also used for the North American Chiltepin pepper because of their small round shape and they are widely spread by birds. Bird’s eye chili pepper is used in many non-veg dishes and sea foods to make them delectable. They are also used as seasonings in cooked dishes as well as raw garnishes in Africa. 50,000-100,000 is the Scoville rating of the Birds eye Chili pepper.
Yellow wax pepper is also recognized as banana pepper and Hungarian wax chili. Yellow wax has shape and color like a banana. Yellow peppers are usually yellow but they can also be orange or red. Its flavor is mild to fairly hot depending on the maturity of the pepper. It has medium thick wall and generally used for pickles and chutney, or added to salsas and fried dishes. 0–500 is the Scoville rating of the Yellow wax pepper.
An Anaheim pepper is named after Anaheim city of California and is also recognized as California green chile, long green pepper, and chile verde. It is a mild variety of chili pepper that grows to 8 inches in size. Anaheim peppers are obtainable all through the year, but they are best in the summer. Commonly stuffed or added to salsas. Anaheim pepper is used in many Mexican and New Mexican dishes. 500 to 2,500 is the Scoville rating of the Anaheim pepper.