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Volume IV
January 31, 2014

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

Some Like It Hot

By Whitney Saupan

It always amazes me how some simple seasonings or a dash of a spice can turn a dish from just ok, to amazing. I'm a fan of spicy foods, I like the little burn it gives and one of the best ways to spice up your food is by adding peppers to your dishes. But there are so many types of peppers out there, how do you know which one to use? Some peppers are almost sweet while others can make grown men cry! Well I found a few websites that gave me that answer. Below is some information on several common types of peppers including how hot they are. Hopefully this helps you decide what degree of hot is right for you.

It's important to understand the scale of hotness. How hot a pepper is, is based on the Scoville Heat Index. It ranks peppers from mildest to hottest and starts with zero (mildest) and goes to over 1,000,000 (hottest).

Bell peppers: Bell peppers include green, yellow and orange, and red peppers. All of these peppers are very mild, almost sweet, and fruit-like. If you want a spicy dish, don't add these. Green bell peppers are more immature than their yellow and red counterparts. By that I mean they are just harvested earlier. They are slightly bitter. Yellow and orange bell peppers are more mature than green bell peppers and taste fruity. They are used quite a bit but aren't as commonly used as red and green peppers. These are also a bit more nutritious than green peppers. Red bell peppers are more mature than yellow or green peppers. They are also much more nutritious. They too have a sweet, fruity taste. Paprika and pimento are made from red bell peppers.

The heat index of bell peppers is zero. They are good prepared lots of different ways.

Cherry peppers: Cherry peppers are heart-shaped. They are very mild and only have a heat index score of 500. They are most commonly used as the red filling inside of olives.

Anaheim peppers: These peppers are long, skinny, and are usually maroon-colored. They are great for salsa! As far as heat goes they can range from 1,000 to 5,000 on the scale. But compared to other peppers they aren't very hot.

Jalapeño peppers: This is probably one of the most commonly used types of peppers. You can find everything with jalapeño! When used properly this pepper can add just the right amount of kick to any dish. There are both red and green jalapeño peppers. The heat index for these peppers is generally around 5,000 but can range anywhere from 2,000 to 8,000. It's spicy but not overwhelming, that's probably why it's so popular!

Serrano peppers: Don't confuse this pepper with a jalapeño. Although they look similar, Serrano peppers are much hotter. This pepper can range from being 10,000 to 25, 000 on the index scale! The smaller the pepper, the hotter it'll be.

Cayenne peppers: This pepper is also popular with those who want to add a little spice to their food. Cayenne is most commonly used in powder form. It's also used in some natural medicines. This pepper is pretty hot; it can range in hotness from 25,000 to 50,000 on the scale!

Tabasco peppers: Obviously Tabasco sauce is made from this pepper. The pepper itself is relatively small; it's less than two inches long! Tabasco peppers come in a variety of colors, red, green, yellow or orange. On the Scoville Heat Index it averages a score of 30,000 to 60,000. If you've ever had Tabasco you know how spicy it can be!

Thai peppers: These peppers are grown in Thailand and its neighboring countries. It's one of the smallest peppers; it's about an inch long. Thai peppers are used in spicy Thai dishes at restaurants. It is labeled as being very hot with an index score between 50,000 and 100,000.

Rocoto peppers: These peppers look similar to red bell peppers, but are much MUCH spicier. They have an index score of between 100,000 and 250,000. This pepper is typically used to make very spicy sauces.

Habañero chili peppers: Out of the hot peppers that are used, this is one that most people recognize. The color of this pepper ranges anywhere from green to yellow to pink. Although it is fairly small, this pepper packs quite a punch. Its scale score ranges from 150,000 to 350,000.

Ghost peppers: This pepper is one of the hottest peppers in the world. It reportedly has a Scoville Heat Index of over 1,000,000. This pepper is so hot, that one seed can leave your mouth burning for up to thirty minutes! Handle with care!


Whitney Saupan
Weekly Newsletter Contributer since 2013

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