Why Chile Peppers?
Surprisingly, chile peppers (also known as chili, or chilli peppers), are one of the most ubiquitous spices on the planet. From Paprikash in Hungary to Kung Pao Chicken in China to Mole Poblano in Mexico, they all have one spicy, powerful ingredient in common. The peppers contain a potent component called capsacin, and the related compounds capsaicinoids, which provides the spice and bite associated with the bright fruit. There are five different types of domesticated species of chili peppers – Capsicum annum (wax, cayenne, bell, and jalapeños), Capisicum frutescens (tabasco, Thai, piri-piri), Capsicum chinense (habanero, Datil, Scotch Bonnet), Capsicum pubescens (South American rocoto peppers), and Capiscum baccatum (South American aji peppers) (https://www.cayennediane.com/pepper-species/).
Do you know where the highest concentration of capsaicin is in a pepper? Let’s take a look.
Here we have a red bell pepper. Before we find out the answer, let’s walk through what might be the spiciest component of this fruit:
Have you figured it out yet? If you guessed the white pith contains the most capsaicin, you are correct! The seeds do not produce any capsaicin, while the other fleshy parts contain some, but not as much as, the inner white pith.
Growing up, my mom always put cayenne pepper around her plants to keep away rabbits and other pests. While I thought it was curious to have red rings in the dirt around the plants, it was effective and is still one of the tricks I still use today (note: depending on your location and weather, multiple applications might be necessary).
Chili peppers are used both for culinary and topical applications (stay tuned for my Cayenne Myomagic Muscle Rub!) due to the burning sensation caused by the capcaisin. During ingestion, the capsaicin causes an endorphin rush in your body – the flight or flight response is triggered when this potential “threat” is received in your mouth, and subsequently your stomach. Chili lovers and heat seekers all over the world engage in chili eating contests, with the Carolina Reaper topping out at 2.2 million Scoville Heat Units (more on Scoville Units in the next post!).
Feeling bold? Check out Paqui’s “One Chip Challenge” – a single chip made with a mix of the hottest pepper in the world (Carolina Reaper) and it’s close heat cousin,the Ghost Pepper - http://shop.paqui.com/Carolina-Reaper-Madness-Chip/p/PAQ-002669&c=Paqui@TortillaChips.
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