A Chili-Head's Pepper Guide
I’m a Chili-Head. I always have been, but I was unaware of the name until recently. I discovered the term chili-head by chance one fine winter day. I was making chili con carne in my crock-pot and decided to use a little extra chili pepper. I tasted it, to make sure I didn’t go overboard, when I noticed something strange. The familiar burning sensation in my mouth that caused me to shake my head and gasp for air, was followed by a pleasant little jolt to my brain and a feeling of well being washed away my crankiness. There I was, huddled over my crock-pot like, getting a buzz off of chili pepper.
This can’t be! I immediately consulted the almighty Google and sure enough, what I suspected was true. And there are other crazed chili ingesting endorphin addicts like me, all over the planet.
How It Works
There is no evidence suggesting that it is unhealthy. Capsaicin is in fact, a natural anti-inflammatory . It can be purchased in a topical cream form and rubbed on arthritic joints. It has been made into nasal sprays to stop the pain of a migraine or cluster headache.So no, this is one high that will not hurt you. The following list covers some of the most popular peppers that can be added to your diet for great taste and mouth burning fun. Each pepper possesses a distinctive flavor and level of hotness. There are more than 140 varieties of Mexican chile peppers available, so this is merely a partial list. Hot peppers containing capsaicin are found all over the world and are easily added to your favorite international dishes. You can turn up the heat in your kitchen with dried or fresh chiles. One word of caution: the natural oil capsaicin can burn your eyes and skin if you are not careful, so you may want to use gloves while preparing them. Keep your kitchen well ventilated while roasting or toasting your chiles. The fumes may irritate your nose.
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Hot, Hotter, Hottest of Peppers
The heat in chile peppers is measured on the Scoville Heat Scale by units, with 1 unit as the mildest and 10 the hottest. Some hot sauces, like the famous Dave’s Insanity Sauce, measure in the fifties, hundreds, and sometimes thousands. There is even a sauce that the manufacturer requires the taster to sign a waiver of responsibility.
- Anaheim: Heat Level 2-3 Also known as the New Mexico or California chile, This chile is between 6-8 inches in length and will vary in color from green to red. They have a generally mild flavor and are often stuffed or used in sauces. They can be bought canned, as green chiles.
- Pablano: Heat Level 3 This deep green pepper is great for stuffing with cheese or meat and delicious in sauces.
- Pasilla: Heat Level 3 Similar to the pablano, but long and slender. It has a sweet flavor and is often used in traditional Latin dishes.
- Jalapeno: Heat Level 5-6 This pepper is usually dark green, but sometimes red. Use to add spice to almost any dish. Slice them and put them on your favorite sandwiches. Also available canned.
- Fresno: Heat Level 6-7 This pepper is named after the California city but is also known as chile cera. It is often mistaken for a red jalapeno, but tastes hotter and sweeter. Great in salsas and salads.
- Serrano: Heat Level 6-7 This small slender pepper has a very hot flavor and turns from green to red as it ripens. Also used in salsas, guacamoles and marinades.
- Habanero: Heat Level 10+ This super hot chile should be used sparingly. It is also called the Scotch Bonnet and can be yellow, orange or red. A red colored habanero will be the hottest. These are commonly used in Yucatan dishes.
Tips for Storage
Fresh chile peppers can be stored in a paper bag and refrigerated for up to a week. Or, roast them, let them cool and then freeze them in plastic bags for up to 12 months. Dried chiles can be stored in an airtight container in a cool place, or in the freezer.
Chile Products To Add to Your Pantry
Ancho, chipotle and other types of dried chiles can be purchased in powder form. Pick vibrantly colored powders with a spicy smell, for the best flavor.
Green chile peppers, jalapenos and chipotle peppers are commonly available canned. Store leftovers in a well sealed container for up to a month.