Chili Peppers

Chili Peppers

Season for Chili Peppers Available Year Round, depending on the variety

Chili Peppers Described

Though your first instinct when confronted by a mouthful of burning fire is to reach for the ice cold water, heed this advice: Don’t! It will paradoxically only add fuel to the fire. Instead, a glass of milk or piece of bread may help deaden the inferno. Chili peppers; we love them in moderation, we can’t take them like some other cultures can. They contain a substance called capsaicin that produces a ranging mild to intense spice when eaten, based upon the amount present. The hottest varieties include habañero and Scotch bonnet peppers followed by Jalapeños. Some milder varieties include Spanish pimentos, and Anaheim and Hungarian cherry peppers. But there are some 200 varieties among us. 

How to Buy and Store Chili Peppers

Choose your fresh chili peppers for their deep, vivid color and glossy skin, avoiding any with signs of shriveling or soft spots. Generally speaking – but not necessarily across the board – the larger a chili, the more mild it will be, owing to the high proportion of seeds and veins that carry most of the heat. Fresh chilies can be stored wrapped in your refrigerator for up to ten days. Keep in mind though; chilling affects their flavour, so it’s best to bring your chilies to room temperature before using them. 

Chillies are also available dried (whole, as flakes or ground into chilli powder), preserved in oil (where the heat from the chilli will infuse the oil) or made into condiments such as Tabasco. Dried chillies will keep for around a year if stored in an airtight container away from direct sunlight.

How to Cook Chili Peppers

Since neither cooking nor freezing diminishes capsaicin’s intensity, removing a chile’s seeds and veins is the only way to reduce its heat, although you should know that by doing so, you also remove much of the health benefits associated with this, yes, fruit. When working with chilies you may want to wear gloves as they don’t just burn in the mouth; the eyes and skin are susceptible as well. Wash your hands, knife and cutting board thoroughly after chopping your chilies. Chilies can be added to nearly anything you want to turn up the spice volume in – especially delicious in chocolate! Added to stir-fries, breads, on top of pizzas, and of course in everyone’s famous chili, a little heat can make all the difference.

Health Benefits of Chili Peppers

Deep dark, red chilis are your best health bet containing high amounts of vitamin C, some B vitamins, beta carotene, potassium, magnesium and iron. Think of yellow and green chilis as their unripe counterpart, and while still wildly healthy, a little less so. Chili Peppers have been shown to fight headaches, relieve congestion, fight cancer and inflammation, help lower high blood pressure, soothe intestinal diseases, rev metabolism and protect your heart. So, while we wouldn’t pile it on, consider a little heat well worthwhile.

Why Buy Natural and Organic Chili Peppers

Just as the inherent heat in chili peppers can deter weary eaters, so too can it repel pests, actually acting as a natural pesticide. So, one might deduce that very few pesticides would be used in their cultivation. But, when grown conventionally, there’s no way to ensure your chili peppers don’t hold residues of harmful chemicals. The only way to know is by purchasing them organically, and when you get them from a farmers market, you can get the farmer to help you pick out those with the level of heat you can take. 

image: PaulS