Peppers are one of the most diverse foods you can find. Depending on the specific pepper, they bring a different flavor to your food. Check out this article to find out all the details about peppers and learn which one is right for your next dish.
Peppers are a delicious way to add flavor to your food. I love peppers and the spice they bring. However, I do not like the ones that make my tongue feel like it is on fire. I found out long ago that it is important to know just how spicy a pepper is before adding it to your food.
You probably did not realize how many different types of peppers there are. Keep on reading to find out more information about them and determine which ones you want to eat.
How Hot are Peppers?
It may surprise you to know that peppers are considered fruits. They all, sweet and hot peppers, are part of the Capsicum genus. The amount of heat a pepper has is measured by Scoville heat units (SHU).
The scale ranges from 0 for a bell pepper up to 3,000,000, which is the hottest pepper in the world. This pepper is called Pepper X. A dried hot chili pepper is going to fall in the middle of the scale, but some of them are fairly hot. This scale is a good measure for the heat of a pepper, but the climate in which the pepper is grown is going to impact how hot it tastes.
An effective way to reduce the amount of fire you feel from the pepper is to remove the seeds and ribs from the inside before you cook or use it. Dairy products, like milk, are a great addition to a hot meal. Peppers contain capsaicin. Capsaicin is the chemical that causes their fire. Dairy products have casein which can neutralize the capsaicin.
Types of Peppers
There are many different types of peppers. Not only are there many types, but most peppers have several different names.
The Anaheim pepper has a Scoville unit of 500 to 2,500, making it a mild type of pepper. It goes by several different names, including Chile Verde, California green Chile, and New Mexican Chile. The Anaheim pepper is long and green when it has not matured. Once it matures, it turns deep red and maybe called Chile Colorado. This pepper is most often used in salsa. These peppers are the ones most often found in canned peppers.
The banana pepper has a sweet flavor and only registers from 0 to 500 on the Scoville scale. They are a little tangy and add a nice little kick to the food. They are also called yellow wax pepper or banana chili pepper. When the banana pepper is ripe, it has a bright yellow color. You can sometimes find them in green, red, or orange. The banana pepper is ideal for sandwiches, pizza, salad, and antipasto.
Basque Fryer Pepper
The Basque fryer pepper is a sweet pepper that has a heat rating of zero. It is also called doux long des Landes, doux de Landes, or piment basque. This pepper is eaten roasted, sautéed, or raw.
Bell pepper is on the larger side and has the shape of a bell, hence the name. When it is immature, it is green in color and tastes slightly bitter. As it matures, it becomes red and has a sweeter taste. You can find bell peppers in orange, yellow, pink, white, and purple varieties.
They have a lot of water in them and add moisture to the food. They can also give your food pops of color. You can eat bell peppers raw or cooked. They have even been dried and ground into spices.
Bird’s Eye Pepper
The bird’s eye pepper is a spicy Thai pepper. It falls somewhere between 50,000 to 100,000 heat units which make it similar to cayenne and habanero peppers. It is one type of Thai pepper, and it brings a fair amount of heat to hot sauce. This pepper is used in chili powder.
The cayenne pepper has a Scoville unit of 30,000 to 50,000 making this one of the spiciest peppers. It is a slim pepper with a tapered end. It is also referred to as a finger child, Ginnie pepper, or bird pepper. It is commonly dried and ground, and sold as cayenne pepper powder. This pepper is ideal for dishes like chili con carne. Cayenne peppers are usually red, but it is possible to find cayenne gold peppers, which are a yellow color.
The cherry pepper is a sweet, little pepper that does not have any heat. It rates around 500 on the Scoville chart. It is bright red and looks like a heart. Cherry peppers are also called pimento peppers or pimiento peppers. They are a critical ingredient in pimento cheese and pimento loaves. These are a great pepper to stuff because they are not spicy. They are often chopped and stuffed into olives.
The chilaca pepper has Scoville heat of 1,500 to 2,500. This pepper is wrinkly and black. They have an interesting flavor that tastes like prunes with a touch of licorice. When they are dried, they are called pasilla or Chile negro. Once they are dried, they are soaked or toasted and then blended into a sauce, most often with fruit. Another popular use is in a mole sauce.
Datil Pepper is a small and hot pepper, often referred to as a yellow lantern chili. It comes from the Capsicum Chinese species. When it is ripe, it is a yellow-orange color. It can be anywhere from 1/4 inch to 4 inches long. It registers around 100,000 to 300,000 on the Scoville scale, which is close to a habanero. These peppers are a little sweet and have a tangy, fruity flavor.
Ghost Pepper is an incredibly hot pepper coming in at 1,000,000 Scoville units. The ghost pepper bites you back. It is also called Bhut Naga Jolokia, bhut jolokia, naga Jolokia, ghost chili, ghost Jolokia, red naga, or u-morok. Ghost pepper is one of the hottest edible peppers. It is 100 times spicier than a jalapeño. It is used in curry and chutney but in small amounts.
Habanero peppers are hot. They have Scoville units of 150,000 to 350,000, which makes them one of the hottest peppers you can find. What is most interesting about the habanero is that underneath the heat, there is a touch of sweetness. These peppers are small and look like a bulb. They are part of the Scotch Bonnet family. These peppers are incredibly popular in Mexico and the Caribbean. They are ideal for making a hot sauce.
The jalapeno pepper has a heat unit of 3,500 to 8,000. The jalapeño is a Mexican pepper that is usually picked from the vine before it turns from a green color. If left longer on the vine, they ripen and turn red. Staying on the vine longer also gives them a fruity flavor. Jalapeños are not a super hot pepper.
They provide great taste and are used in sauce and salsa. When they are dried, they are called chipotle pepper. They are smoke-dried and created in two different varieties. One is meco, which is mellow tasting. The other is moritas, which is spicy. Chipotle is woodsy, smoky, and spicy and is ideal for sauce, salsa, adobo, and escabeche.
Mirasol Chili Pepper
The mirasol chili pepper has Scoville units of 2,500 to 5,000, which is the same amount of heat you would expect from a jalapeño but a little sweeter. These peppers are red and point towards the sun while they grow. When they are dried, they are called guajillo. Drying these peppers change their taste slightly. They become tangy, fruity, and slightly acidic. They are commonly used in al pastor and a mole sauce.
The patron pepper is mild and sweet, registering between 500 to 2,500 on the Scoville scale. You can find a padron pepper that is spicy. This pepper is often grilled or fried.
The piquillo pepper is a mild and sweet pepper that comes from Spain. It balances sweetness with a tart and smokey flavor, with a Scoville heat range is 500 to 1,000. They measure from three to four inches in length. They have a slight curve at the bottom, which looks like a little beak. This is why piquillo peppers are also referred to as a little beak pepper. They are most often found in a jar in specialty stores. The piquillo pepper is ideal for sandwiches, sauces, meat, and cheese. They are also stuffed with cheese, baked, and served.
The Piri Piri pepper has Scoville units 50,000 to 175,000 making it a fairly hot pepper. While they are hotter than most peppers, you can still eat them. They are often used in Portuguese and African dishes. They are also referred to as Peri Peri, African red devil pepper, or African bird’s-eye pepper. This is a small pepper that is only about one to two inches.
The poblano pepper has a Scoville unit of 1,000 to 2,000. This larger pepper is heart-shaped and is commonly found in Mexican food like chiles rellenos. They are mildly spicy and will give a good amount of flavor to food. Once mature, this pepper is a dark reddish-brown color. They are often dried and then referred to as an ancho pepper. Once they become an ancho pepper, they take on a rich sweetness. These peppers are great for sauces.
The rococo pepper has a Scoville unit of 100,000 to 250,000. This pepper is also called hairy pepper, locoto, and aji rocoto. This pepper is native to South America, and it looks a lot like a bell pepper but do not let it deceive you. There is a serious amount of spice under the pepper skin. It has black seeds and comes in varying shades of red, yellow, and orange. The hottest rocoto peppers are yellow, but the most common one is red. They have furry leaves. This pepper is typically used in salsa.
Scotch Bonnet Pepper
This is a spicy pepper and the hottest one you will find in the Caribbean. You should proceed with caution when this pepper is in a dish. It has Scoville heat units of 80,000 to 400,000. It is also called ball of fire pepper, bonney peppers, Caribbean red peppers, or cachucha. It is used in many dishes from the islands, including jerk chicken.
The Serrano pepper has a Scoville heat range from 6,000 to 23,000. This is a small but elongated pepper, measuring in at a few inches in length. It has a tapered end and can pack a punch. The smaller this pepper is, the hotter it is going to be. When they are mature or ripe, the pepper is a yellow-orange or red color. They can be cooked in ripe or unripe states. Serrano peppers are most often found in Thai or Mexican dishes. You may also find them in salsa and guacamole.
The shishito pepper ranges from 50 to 200 heat units. This is a mild pepper but what is interesting about it is that there is often a spicy shishito in the bunch of peppers. You will not know which one is spicy until you bite into the pepper. They are picked while they are still green. The riper they are means, the spicier they will be. They can be seared in a pan and eaten alone. They are perfect for adding to pizza. They can also be roasted, drizzles with sauce or oil, and eaten.
A tabasco pepper has a Scoville heat of 30,000 to 60,000. It is more well known as Tabasco sauce, which is the sauce that is made from the pepper. The pepper itself is about one to two inches and a bright red color. To use it in the sauce, the pepper is smashed and mixed with vinegar and salt. This also cuts the heat of the pepper to a heat unit of 2,500 to 5,000. That significantly cuts the heat of this pepper.
Other Incredibly Hot Peppers
Carolina Reaper Pepper
This registers from 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 on the Scoville heat unit. This is as close as you can get to eating pepper spray. This is not a pepper you will easily find.
Dragon’s Breath Pepper
This is one of the smallest peppers, and some debate the hottest pepper there is. This pepper is not really available commercially and is not supposed to be eaten. There is a claim that it registers 2,480,000 on the Scoville scale, but it has not been tested in a lab to confirm that number.
Komodo Dragon Pepper
The Komodo dragon pepper is about as hot as a ghost pepper. This pepper sneaks up on you because, at first, it tastes sweet, and then the heat gets you. Most likely, you will regret biting into it. It registers around 1,400,000 on the Scoville scale.
Pepper is a key spice that is used around the world. It has been used all around the world as spice or currency. There were times when pepper was worth its weight in gold. Pepper is earthy, woody, and hot. It has a flavor that is distinct and pairs well with food. Pepper makes food taste bolder. There are many different types of peppercorns.
Black peppercorn starts green when it is berry still on the vine. When the berry ripens, it changes to a red color. The sun shrivels the berry, and it becomes a black sphere. This is how it becomes the black peppercorn as we know it today. The larger the peppercorn means, the stronger the flavor. There are many different flavors of black peppercorn, from a mild taste to something a little stronger.
Green peppercorns are young and not allowed to ripen. They do start to ripen after they are picked. Often times, green peppercorns are dehydrated after they are harvested. This prevents them from becoming ripe and turning into a black pepper. Green peppercorns have been pickled in brine in the past, but that is not used as much today because of improvements to technology.
Green peppers are not as complex as black peppercorns. These are a younger peppercorn. They have a zesty flavor and can replace black peppercorns. They can also be mixed with black peppercorns. Green peppercorns are ideal for seafood, chicken, and sauce.
Sichuan pepper has been used in Chinese food for years. It has a distinct flavor and not much like black pepper. It does have a fair amount of heat. It also has a pleasing smell to it. This is a great addition to fried chicken and hot dishes where heat plays a role, like a chili sauce, Kung Pao chicken, and meats with dry rub.
White peppercorns do not have the wrinkled appearance that black peppercorns have. White peppercorns start as black peppercorns when they are young. They are picked when they are ripe. After they are picked, they are run underwater or soak in water. The water dissolves the skin of the fruit, which leaves the white color behind. They are smaller than black peppercorns. They have a completely different flavor. They are more delicate with a floral flavor. White pepper is more expensive.