Do you like your chilli peppers hotter than the sun, or are you more of a mild chilli pepper kind of person?
However hot you like your chillies, there’s a good chance that the perfect chilli pepper for you is out there somewhere. When people think of chilli peppers it’s often the heat that first springs to mind and that’s a real shame.
Chilli peppers can be sweet, savoury, delicious culinary ingredients that can be as hot or as mild as you like. They don’t just add heat, they also add a tremendous flavour to a wide range of different dishes.
Are you a chilli fan and want to learn more about these colourful, vibrant, and delicious ingredients? Then here are 5 crazy facts about chillies you won’t believe.
If you watch cooking shows on TV, you’ll notice that when the chefs use chillies, they’ll advise you to leave out the seeds if you want less heat in your dish. However, the seeds are not actually the hottest part of the chilli fruit.
The hottest part is in fact the part closest to the stem, because this is where the highest concentrations of capsaicin are found. Capsaicin is the compound that gives chillies their fiery heat. So, if you want a less-fiery dish, be sure to avoid using the flesh closest to the stem. The seeds do still provide heat, but they aren’t the hottest part of the fruit.
A lot of people seem to think that chipotle chillies and jalapeno chillies come from different plants, but they don’t. The two chilli varieties come from the same plant. But hold on, how come they taste so different?
Well, the reason for the different taste all comes down to how they are treated once harvested. Chipotle chillies are basically red jalapenos which, after being harvested, have been smoke-dried to provide the rich, smoky, aromatic flavour.
When capsaicin is consumed, or comes into contact with the skin of mammals, it burns and irritates. If you see birds in the wild tucking into a fresh crop of Naga chillies however, it won’t bother them in the slightest.
The birds aren’t super tough, they’re simply immune to capsaicin, so they can eat as much chilli as they like, without experiencing any burning or irritation at all. In fact, the primary reason why chillies grow in the wild is because birds eat the chilli fruits and then excrete the seeds while in flight.
We’re all familiar with pepper spray, which is used as a form of self-defence to this day. pepper spray is basically an aerosol containing super concentrated capsaicin oils and extracts from hot chilli peppers, which is sprayed into the face to ward off threats.
However, chillies have been weaponised for centuries, but not how you may think. In ancient China, heavy bags of whole spices and chillies were hurled at enemies from a distance, similar to how cannonballs were used. Criminals in Japan also felt the wrath of the mighty chilli pepper, as ground chillies were hurled into the faces of Japanese criminals as form of punishment for the crimes they committed.
Despite what some may claim, officially at this time (2018) the Carolina Reaper is the hottest chilli on the planet. Chilli peppers have their heat measured in Scoville units. Now, the average Jalapeno chilli packs a bit of a punch, as it comes in at roughly 2,500 Scoville units.
To put into perspective of how hot the Carolina Reaper chilli is, it comes in at an average of between 1.6 AND 2.2 MILLION SCOVILLE UNITS! That’s right, this chilli packs quite a punch. The Reaper is a hybrid of Red Habanero and a Pakistani Naga chilli, and unmistakable due to its stinger tail. If you can get past the heat however, it has a deliciously fruity, and slightly sweet flavour.