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Some like it hot!!!

July 21, 2010

red pepper flakes – made from crushed, hot, dried, red peppers.

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Many of us are familiar with the terms hot pepper flakes and chili pepper flakes and crushed red pepper and red pepper flakes. The American Spice Trade Association prefers “red pepper flakes” but what do we care? Chili, red, hot or crushed, it all works as long as we know what we’re talking about.

If that isn’t confusing enough, there are numerous spellings – chili pepper, chilli, chilli pepper, chilli, chili, and chile. I hope I didn’t miss one. I guess you can spell it almost any way you like.

History of the Chilli (chili) Pepper
The capsicum (Chilli Pepper) plant is indigenous to South America, where they grow wild. The very first concerted cultivation of the plant is believed to have taken place around 7000 to 6000 BC and traces have been found at prehistoric burial sites around Peru. By the turn of the 15th century, when the Spanish and Portuguese discovered South America, chilli peppers were widely cultivated for human consumption.

The Spaniards found that drying and crushing the pods of the hottest chilli peppers, made an excellent fiery substitute for the peppercorn that was so extensively used in European cuisine. Soon enough, tons of chillis were being shipped back to Spain each year, much to the delight of the Spanish population.

The Portuguese shipped mature chilli pepper plants to their settlements in the East Indies and upon arrival, the new plant was re-christened Pernombuco pepper. Being a lot easier to grow and a great deal hotter than the peppercorn, it soon became the more popular of the two. Because the chilli pepper is now used as much in Eastern cuisine as it is in South American cuisine, it is often thought to have originated in the East rather than in the West. There’s enough fighting going on in the world, so try not to bring up the subject in polite conversation. Just keep this information in the back of your mind in case you are ever a contestant on the quiz show, “The weakest link”.

Source: chilli farm

Chili peppers are members of the capsaicin family and contain capsaicin. See how that works. Capsaicin is the substance that makes them spicy, and it’s found mostly in the spongy white tissue where the seeds cling. Eating them causes the brain to release endorphins, creating a sense of well-being. I knew there was a reason I liked them.

As their popularity has increased, so have the varieties of chili peppers used to make red pepper flakes — pablano (called ancho when dried) and cayenne are often used. Usually, the smaller the chili pepper the hotter the spice. The fruit of capsicums are berries but the peppers are vegetables or spices. They’ve become the most consumed spice in the world.

The pain from the heat of chili peppers is caused by nerve signals. Birds don’t have the proper receptors to sense the pain. They eat them and spread the seeds around. Squirrels, however, can feel the pain quite smartly. The seeds can be added to bird feeders to discourage those pesky little rodents from chowing down.

Hot red chilies have definite benefits. They are extremely high in vitamin A, but they also have vitamin C as well as folic acid, potassium and antioxidants. I even found one website that professed claims of “Southern root doctors” (whatever they are) who use red peppers to work “enemy tricks.” Um.

There are many types of chili peppers; the bell pepper is the mildest. The Scoville scale is the method by which the spicy heat in chili peppers is measured. I found the following list of the 10 hottest peppers in the world. I love lists. Not sure why I can’t resist them. It probably has something to do with someone else boiling down tons of information or research into a simple list. They do all the work and I get all the knowledge.

The 10 Hottest Peppers in the World

1. Bhut Jolokia
Native to northeastern India, this hot pepper is documented in the Guinness World Records as the current hottest pepper. It topped the scales at over a million Scoville heat units, with an official rating of 1,001,304. Bhut Jolokia is also known by two other names: the Naga Jolokia and the Tezpur pepper. It is a close relative of the habanero and similarly super-spicy red savina.

2. Dorset Naga
This pepper follows close behind the Bhut Jolokia, with a Scoville heat rating of 923,000. It was cultivated in Great Britain and is a relative of the Scotch bonnet. Further testing is pending, with initial scores from the BBC that may push the Dorset Naga pepper even above the Bhut Jolokia.

3. Red Savina
It was the hottest pepper in the world for nearly a decade with a fiery rating of 580,000 Scoville heat units. The Red Savina is a relative of the habanero pepper and was cultivated in Walnut, California.

4. Chocolate Habanero
This pepper has little to do with the sweet treat we associate chocolate with. The chocolate habanero pepper packs a punch far spicier than regular habaneros, with 425,000 Scoville units in each pepper. Chocolate habaneros, also known as brown or black habaneros, take a bit longer to cultivate, but the grower’s patience is rewarded with a searing hot pepper that is the spiciest variety of habaneros.

5. Traditional Habanero
Next on the list, the traditional habanero chili has a Scoville rating of up to 350,000 SHU. The name habanero is Spanish for ‘from Havana’. The pepper is used in cuisine throughout the Yucatan.

6. Scotch Bonnet
Scotch bonnet peppers are very similar to habanero peppers in both appearance and heat. With Scoville ratings that top out at 325,000, Scotch bonnet peppers are originally from the Caribbean. Scotch bonnet peppers are named for their resemblance to the hats Scottish men wear.

7. Devil’s Tongue
These chilies are another relative of the habanero. Like the Scotch bonnet pepper, Devil’s Tongue peppers have been measured as high as 325,000 Scoville heat units. Their bright yellow wrinkly pods make Devil’s Tongue peppers easy to spot when ripe.

8. Tepin
The Tepin pepper grows wild in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and northern Mexico. It’s tiny, about the size of a large pea, but it’s been measured at 265,000 Scoville units. Tepin peppers are part of the bird’s or bird’s eye pepper variety.

9. African Devil
African Birdseye is also known as African devil, African red devil or Piri Piri. Its Scoville heat unit measurement is 225,000, less than one fourth of the heat of the Bhut Jolokia. It is used in cooking throughout Mozambique and South Africa, especially to accompany chicken and fish.

10. Jamaican Hot Pepper
The Jamaican hot pepper rounds out our top 10 with a Scoville rating of 200,000 heat units. Although it is the least spicy of the peppers mentioned here, it is still over 25 times hotter than the hottest jalapeno. Jamaican hot peppers are used throughout Caribbean cuisine and have been cultivated throughout temperate climates.
Source: lifescript healthy living for women

There! Isn’t that more than you ever wanted to know about chili peppers? Or is it chilli peppers?

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