Sweet & Spicy and Full of Flavor
From Poblano to Guajillo, all types of peppers are part of the genus Capsicum, which includes hot varieties, also known as chile peppers, and sweet varieties, such as the bell pepper. Truly international in their appeal, peppers have become integral to flavoring dishes across the world, from Mexico to Thailand, the Congo to India, and from Hungary to Tunisia. While some varieties are easy on the taste buds; others are a mild form of torture. So how hot can you go? Below we break down our favorites by their characteristics and their heat levels– measured in Scoville Heat Units (keep in mind peppers range from 0 and can go all the way up to 3,000,000!). We've also included some wonderful recipes that incorporate these peppers and challenge our taste buds to live on the edge.
Alternate Names: Green Pepper, Red Pepper, Sweet Bell Pepper
Characteristics: While Bell Peppers are related to all those spicy peppers, they're not at all spicy- so they're perfect for someone who isn't quite ready to feel the burn. Relatively large in size, the bell-shaped pepper in its immature state is green with a slightly bitter flavor. As it matures, it turns bright red and becomes sweeter. You can also find yellow, orange, white, pink, and even purple varieties. With their high water content, bell peppers will add moisture to any dish. They're also great for adding color.
Scoville Heat Units: 0
Recipes to Try: Green Chili Lime Fajitas
Alternate Names: California Green Chile, Chile Verde, New Mexican Chile
Characteristics: This long pepper is relatively mild and very versatile. When mature, the Anaheim turns deep red and are referred to a chile Colorado or California red chile. Anaheims are popular in salsas and dishes from the American Southwest.
Scoville Heat Units: 500 to 2,500
Alternate Name: Ancho
Characteristics: Somewhat large and heart-shaped, the poblano is common in Mexican dishes such as chiles rellenos. Are poblano peppers spicy? Yes, but only mildly spicy. At maturity, the poblano turns dark red-brown and can be dried, at which point it's referred to as an ancho or mulato. Anchos have a rich, raisin-like sweetness. The high yield of flesh to skin makes anchos great for sauces.
Scoville Heat Units: 1,000 to 2,000
Recipes to try: Chicken Enchilada-Stuffed Squash
Alternate Names: Guajillo
Characteristics: Bright red and pointed upward, these peppers grow toward the sun, which is why they were given the name mirasol (which means "looking at the sun" in Spanish). In their dried form, they are called guajillo. Guajillo are fruity, tangy, and mildly acidic, and are a common ingredient in traditional al pastor. They are also one of the main chilis used in mole sauce.
Scoville Heat Units: 2,500 to 5,000
Recipes to Try: Guajillo Fish Tacos
Characteristics: Jalapeños are a medium sized hot pepper when compared to other chili peppers, measuring an average of 2-3.5 inches in length but growing up to 6 inches long or longer.. Jalapeños are a tasty ingredient commonly used to in salsa and sauces. When dried, a jalapeño is called a chipotle. Smoke-dried chipotles come in two varieties: meco (mellow) and moritas (spicier). Smoky, woodsy, and spicy, chipotles are the perfect ingredient for salsas, sauces, escabeche, and adobo. You’ll find Jalapeños are typically served when green, but if you leave the jalapeño pepper on the plant long enough, it will turn red and take on a sweeter, fruitier flavor. While originating in Mexico, jalapeños are now grown worldwide.
Scoville Heat Units: 2,500 to 8,000
Characteristics: Just a couple of inches long, with a tapered end, this small pepper packs quite a bit of heat. Beware: The smaller the pepper, the hotter it is. When ripe, serranos are red or yellowish orange—they can be cooked in both their ripe and unripe states. Serranos are common in Mexican and Thai cooking.
Scoville Heat Units: 6,000 to 23,000
Recipes to try: Spicy Serrano Chilaquiles
Alternate Names: Finger Chile, Ginnie Pepper, and Bird Pepper
Characteristics: Slender and tapered, this chile is probably most familiar in its dried, ground form—the powder known as cayenne pepper. Ground cayenne pepper is a main ingredient in the chili powder that flavors Tex-Mex dishes. It's one of the spiciest types of peppers! Cayenne peppers are also one of the main ingredients in Schultz’s Gourmet Spicy Original and Sweet Heat Cooking Sauces.
Scoville Heat Units: 30,000 to 50,000
Alternate Names: Peri Peri, African Bird's-Eye Pepper and African Red Devil Pepper
Characteristics: When Portuguese sailors made port of call in what's now South Africa and Mozambique, they brought ashore little chili peppers called bird's eyes, or peri-peri in Swahili. The name also came to refer to the piquant sauce made from these chiles, as well as to the Portuguese-African method of cooking prawns, chicken, or anything else in this sauce. Though it's a relatively small pepper, growing only one to two inches, it packs quite a punch.
Scoville Heat Units: 50,000 to 175,000
Recipes to Try: Piri-Piri Chicken with Crispy Potatoes
Tips To Turn Down The Heat
A few pointers to reducing a fresh pepper’s spiciness
If you want the flavor without the mouth-scorching fire, remove the seeds and interior veins and pith from a chile before cooking it. It's also a good idea to have dairy products, such as milk, yogurt or cheese, on hand—they contain casein, which helps neutralize capsaicin, the chemical that gives chiles their heat. Putting a fresh, cut open uncooked chile pepper under running water will rinse off some of its heat. Acidic ingredients also neutralize capsaicin’s burn somewhat, so squeezing some fresh lime juice on a spicy food can help a bit. And remember: Always protect your skin by wearing gloves and never touch your eyes when handling hot peppers.
Source Article by Epicurious.