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  • Anybody know a lot about PEPPERS?

    Went shopping yesterday and need 2 jalapeno peppers to make Tormented Eggplant tonite. I've never bought fresh peppers, except for bell peppers or sweet red ones. I was amazed at the varieties there are to choose from! And I couldnt identify any of them! They were all in baskets and not labeled. There were red ones (some round and some long), yellow ones (some round and some long), all shades of green, small & large...sure was confusing! Is there any way to tell which peppers are mild and which are fiery hot?

  • #2
    I had that same problem recently, cottun. Was making Mexican Corn Bread with jalapenos...there were several bins of peppers with no labeling. I ended up getting what I thought were jalapenos, but they couldn't have been because you could barely taste them in the recipe.

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    • #3
      I hope what I got is jalapenos too. They are dark green and short. The produce guy was a local (redneck, LOL) and he didnt have a clue either as to what any of them were. I really debated on whether to put my fresh peppers back and buy chopped jalapenos in a jar just to be sure, but I want to stick as close to the recipe as I can.

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      • #4
        Cottun, the ones you got sound like serranos. Jalapenos are a bit rounder and not so dark. I'll find a pic of one out of my garden for you.

        Here is a list - I'll have to post it in parts due to limit space posting.

        Ancho
        An essential ingredient in mole, ancho is a dried poblano chile. Ranging in color from green to red. Sweet, yet moderately hot. Mostly used in sauces.

        Anaheim
        Named after Anaheim, California and sometimes called New Mexican chiles. Long (6 to 8 inches) and narrow, green when fresh and bright red when ripe. Sweet, mild to moderately hot. They are stuffed, made into sauces, and stews. Dried red chiles are tied into ristras- decorative wreaths.

        Arbol
        Thin and dried. Also called Chinese hot peppers

        Bird Peppers
        There are dozens of varieties of Bird Peppers throughout the world. The two best known varieties in North America are Tepin and Pequin. Bird peppers are commonly reported to be the hottest chile pepper known to man. In fact, one ounce of the Tepin variety will yield enough heat for 300 gallons of salsa!

        Bonney Pepper
        The number one pepper of choice in Barbados. It is the base of the unique mustard-based hot sauces of the country. It is thought to be an eastern Caribbean version of the Scotch bonnet but you rarely see a yellow fruit-- they mature to red. Very hot.

        Bulgarian Carrot
        This hot chile has the color and shape of a carrot. It makes an attractive ornamental.

        Cascabel
        A rich, blood red pepper with medium heat.

        Chihuacle Rojo
        Originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, it is a staple ingredient in the famous Oaxacan mole sauces. Medium-hot.

        Chilaca
        Also called a pasilla when dried. Long, thin, and often twisted. Turns dark green to brown when mature. Mild to medium hot

        Chile Caribe
        The base for the popular southwestern dish, carne adovada. Red chile pods blended with water to a puree and seasoned. The dried chiles must be soaked first to rehydrate.

        Chiles, Green
        A variety of sizes, shapes, and piquancies, they are a staple in Southwestern cuisine. Green chile can refer to many varieties, most commonly Anaheim, Poblano or New Mexican. Before use, the skin is removed. Used in sauces, relishes, stews, and chile rellenos. (Recipe)

        Chiles, Red
        Green chile that is fully matured, Most often it is dried and must be soaked in water to rehydrate. Usually used ground or crushed for added seasoning or in making a variety of sauces. (Recipe)

        Chile Rellenos
        Green chiles stuffed with cheese or meat, dipped in a batter, and deep-fried. (Recipe)

        Chilipiquin
        See Bird Pepper

        Chipotle
        A sweet, chocolate flavored dried jalapeno pepper that has been smoked. Very hot. Used in salsas, sauces, and soups. Also pickled and canned in adobo sauce.

        Cili Goronong
        Malaysian pepper that’s nearly 3 inches long. Extremely hot.

        Fish Pepper
        The origin of this pepper's unusual name is unknown, but the red-orange pods are quite hot. Pods measure 2 1/4" long by 3/4" wide.

        Grove Pepper
        See Bird Pepper

        Guajillo
        A dried deep red chile with a tough skin, actually a Mirasol chile variety. Medium heat. It has an earthy flavor with plum and raisin tones.

        Guero
        Generic name for yellow chiles

        Habañero
        Very hot chiles that range in color from light-green to orange. Pods are red when fully ripe. Used in chutneys, salsas, sauces, and marinades

        Hungarian Wax
        Originally attributed to Hungary, these are yellow peppers, 4 to 6 inches long with a shiny, waxy appearance. They are also called banana pepper. They are slightly sweet, and mild to moderately hot.

        Jalapeño
        Named after Jalapa, the capital of Veracruz, Mexico, these small, dark green chiles have a smooth and thick skin. Hot to very hot. Can be eaten raw or roasted. Also known as chipotles when dried

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        • #5
          Lemon Drop
          Also known as ají limón, from South America with a very fruity aroma. Yellow when fully ripe.. Pods measure 2" long by ½" wide.

          Pasilla
          A dried fresh Chilaca chile that is medium to hot with berry and tobacco flavor tones.

          Pepperoncini
          Long, cone-shaped, commonly green or bright red and pickled in salads




          Pequin
          A variety of Bird Pepper also called Chilipiquin, Turkey Pepper , Grove Pepper, and Pring-kee-new [Rat-turd pepper]. Pods oval, less than 1" long with the smallest pods being the hottest. Grows wild in Texas, Florida, and south throughout the Americas.

          Poblano
          Large (2 to 3 inches wide and 4 to 6 inches long), dark-green (almost black) chiles. Rich, earthy, mild to slightly hot. Often stuffed (as in Chiles Rellenos), roasted, and never eaten raw. Known as anchos when dried.

          Purple Ecuadorian
          This variety is truly purple- flowers, fruit, and stems. Even the leaves have a purple tinge. The chiles mature to red and are quite hot. The plant is compact, about a foot tall, and makes a good ornamental.

          Pusa Jwala
          This Indian pepper is characteristic of the extremely hot, cayenne-like pods that are eventually ground into powder. Pods measure 3 3/4" long and only 1/4" wide.

          Scotch Bonnet
          A short (1 to 3 inches) wide (2 to 3 inches) lantern-shaped chile which is used in sauces and spice mixtures throughout the Caribbean. Colors can range from white, yellow, orange, red, and brown when ripe. Most famous as the main ingredient in Jerk Spice (Recipe) .

          Serrano
          Barrel-shaped, green or red, pointed at the end. its skin turns from green to red to yellow as it ages. Hottest chile commercially available in the United States. Very hot. Milder with ribs and seeds removed and when roasted. Used in fresh salsas, and roasted.

          Tepin
          Also called Chiltecpin, Chiltepin, Chile mosquito, Chile de pajaro, Chile silvestre or Tecpintle. A Bird Pepper variety often claiming the title as the world's hottest pepper. Grown in the mountains of northern Mexico and southern Arizona. Pods are round, 1/4" across, turns red when ripe. One ounce of this dried pepper with seeds removed will produce a detectable hotness in 30,000-50,000 ounces (over 300 gallons) of salsa!

          Thai
          Tiny (1 to 1 1/2 inches long, 1/4 inch in diameter) and thin, ranging in color from green to red. Extremely hot, lingering heat. Very popular in Southeast Asian cooking.

          Turkey Pepper
          See Bird Pepper

          Yellow Emperor
          From Hainan, China, where it is grown and processed into hot sauces. The pepper matures to yellow and is extremely hot. Length is 2", width 1 1/4".

          PART II

          Remember how Columbus stepped onto American soil and confidently called Native Americans "Indians"--he was THAT sure he was in India?

          Well, that's what he did with peppers too. Capsicum "peppers"--those fleshy hot/sweet fruits--have absolutely nothing to do with the woody Indian vine Piper nigrum and its black peppercorn seeds.

          Capsicums are actually in the Solanaceae family, along with deadly nightshade, potatoes, and tobacco. They are native to the Americas--maybe around Bolivia or Brazil originally--and by the time Europeans arrived with their passion for recording history, they had long been scattered by birds and rain rivulets all over MesoAmerica and the Caribbean.

          Friedrich von Humboldt, in his Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain (1814) noted, "The fruit [of the chile] is as indispensable to the native Peruvians as salt to the whites." The Peruvians, by contrast, came to described the heat of their chiles as gringo huanuchi, or "hot enough to kill a caucasian."

          In fact, by the time Europeans arrived in the New World, the 4 or 5 species that are cultivated today--out of a total of some 25 different species--well, they were already cultivated. The ají (see below) were cultivated in Peru as early as 2500 BCE--and it was so important to the descendants of the Incas that the Indian artist who painted the Last Supper for the Caqthedral of Cuzco painted a dish of ajiís on the table for Christ and his disciples.

          Not one wild species has since been domesticated, though many are harvested. ALL wild capsicums are pungent. ALL mild and sweet capsicums are that way only because they've been domesticated. But give them one wild summer--or even a boring but hot and dry summer in a city garden--and you've got the pungency back in a New York minute.

          What are the 4-5 species? As follows:

          Capsicum frutescens (tabasco chiles)
          Capsicum chinense (originating in Amazonia, the habanero, datil, and scotch bonnet.)
          Capsicum baccatum vas. pendulum (from Peru or Bolivia, ají amarillo)
          Capsicum pubescens (from the Andes regions, rocoto)
          Capiscum annuum car. annuum (domesticated in Mexico, these constitute the whopping majority--cayenne, bell, poblano, serrano, jalapeno, New Mexican/Anaheim, etc.)
          Why are they pungent? It's their amide-type alkaloids (capsaicinoids) with small vanilloid structual components (3 of them) that meet your lips, your tongue, your throat, and plant one hell of a kiss on their pain receptors.

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          • #6
            In 1722, Dominican priest Francisco Ximenez commented on a particularly hot habenero, "[This chili is so strong that a single pod would] make a bull unable to eat."

            If you have the presence of mind to "feel their pain," you'll realize it's a fast, hard bite in the back of your mouth (that's just one of those "structural components")--then a low burn that builds to an eyeblinking, hair-raising throb (that's the 2 other "structural components").

            Different cultivars are rated here for pungency according to Jean Andrews informal "0 to 10+" scale--but beware the occasional "sweet" throwbacks that, for one reason or another, break out of their domesticated genes and go positively feral on your lips. And while I'm on the subject, let me give great thanks and praise and appreciation to Jean Andrews and her book, Red Hot Peppers, both for her fastidious research and for her infectious exuberance for a humdinger of a food.

            A couple of notes:

            NOTE:
            IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ULCERS OR WITH STOMACH ACIDS: 1) don't mix your peppers with liquor, caffeine, nicotine, aspirin, or emotion, and 2) eat fat beforehand--cheese or cream especially.

            NOTE:
            IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ULCERS OR WITH STOMACH ACIDS AND REFUSE TO GIVE UP YOUR CIGARETTES AND MARGARITAS OR REFUSE TO STOP WORRYING ABOUT YOUR KIDS / MATE / LOVER: 1) eat LOTS of cheese, 2) drink lots of cream, and 3) hope for the best.

            NOTE:
            IF YOUR MOUTH IS ON FIRE! I was hopeful when I started the research that I'd find a panacea. Didn't. But some things help. Lipoproteins such as the casein in milk and yoghurt (NOT cheese or butter, since it's casein and not fat that helps) give relief. In one tangle with a habanero (it won) I was okay as long as I held yoghurt to the nuclear bomb site on my lips--but back to pain plus the minute I swallowed. Another remedy is to swish and gargle with vodka, since capsaicin is soluble in alcohol. Be careful not to swallow, though, cause you'll end up burning holes in your stomach lining.

            NOTE:
            IF YOU'RE TOO STUBBORN TO WEAR RUBBER GLOVES WHEN YOU'RE CUTTING CHILES AND THEN JUSTIFIABLY WORRY ABOUT RUBBING YOUR EYES OR PERFORMING OTHER BODILY FUNCTIONS. And this goes double for people who wear contact lenses and have to take them out at some point. WELL, there really IS a bonafide solution here--and I do mean solution. Just get yourself a little bowl of clorox (bleach), diluted 5 parts water to 1 part bleach, and so long as you dip your fingers in from time to time you've got the problem licked. Why? Capsaicin compound is not soluble in water, but chlorine or ammonia turns it into a salt, which IS soluble in water.

            There are as many pepper types as can grow wild and thrive wild in different parts of the world. Here's an assortment of the most commonly available in American markets:


            Anaheim: see New Mexican chile.

            Ancho: see Poblano.

            Banana pepper (0 to 5): Pale yellow-green to yellow (maturing to bright red); it's about 6 inches long, a fat finger, that tapers to a point. Aka, Hungarian wax, when it's hot.

            Bell pepper (0): A big chambered sweet "box" that comes in green (unripe), yellow, red, orange, brown, and purple...but mostly green in the stores.

            Cascabel (hot, 4): A cherry- or mushroom-looking thing, 1 x 1 inch, that's mostly used in dried, ground form. When it's dry, the seeds rattle around, making it "cascabel" or "jingle bell."

            Cayenne (plenty hot, 7-8): A dark green or red--and bony, skinny witch's-finger looking thing with a pointed end. Usually about 5 inches long, 1/2 inch in diameter.

            Cherry (sweet to hot, 0-4, 7-8): Medium green to red, thick fleshed, and shaped like a big cherry (running from 3/4 inch to an inch and a half).

            Chilaca : see Pasilla.

            Chiltpin or Chiltecpin or Pequin or Thai bird peppers (very hot, 8-9): These 1/4 x 3/4-inch oval peppers are glossy and range from red to green to nearly black. They make a good kitchen plant: you can mash these little guys into soups and salad dressings--or you can pickle them in vinegar in a little kitchen counter bottle and spritz the vinegar into the soups and sauces.

            Chipotle: These can be any pepper, but dried by smoking. Jalapenos are commonly made into chipotles.

            Cubanelle (sweet, 0): Pale yellow-green to orange to red, sometimes a mix of all three. They're glossy, long cylinders with defined seams and a sunken, inverted end point. They are thick fleshed and more flavorful than bells--a classic wax type.

            Datil (very, very hot, 10): One of the capsicum chinense peppers that will blow the top of your head off. They're wax types, shaped like baby fingers (2 x 3/4 inch)--a little wrinkled and pointed at the end. Generally yellow green to golden yellow.

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            • #7
              De Arbol (hot, 7): green to red colored, 3 x 3/4 inches, shaped like skinny fingers with a very pointy end. Usually found dried and whole in packages.

              Fresno (hot, 5-7): Yellow-green to red, these glossy cones are about 3 inches long, an inch and a half at the base. A thick wax type that's only used fresh because its too fleshy to dry properly.

              Guajillo (dried) / Mirasol (fresh) (hot, 4-5): Truly variable--it can be little or big, smooth or wrinkled. Generally, it's green to red (red brown, dried), peapod shaped with pointed ends. Its thin skin makes it excellent dried--as which it both flavors and colors dishes beautifully and in small quantities.

              Habanero (whew--10+): Beautifully colored (green, yellow, orange, and orange red) and shaped like lanterns, with points at the end, they have completely distinctive aromas and flavors. They're smallish, 1-2 x 1-2 inches, but pack a huge punch. Originally from Yucatan, they're associated with Cuba--"from Havana." They're in the capsicum chinense family.

              Jalapeno (hot, 1-5+): Bright green to black green, maturing to red, this is found in most supermarkets. It's smooth, thickfleshed, sometimes blistered. When marketers found out people picked blistered-looking jalapenos over smooth ones, they cultivated ones with blisters. No taste difference whatsoever. Jalapenos are generally shaped like big Christmas tree lights, including their blunted pointy end. They're named for the Mexican city of Jalapa in the state of Veracruz.

              NOTE: When smoked, jalapenos are called chipotles.

              Mirasol: see Guajillo.

              Mulato: see Poblano.

              New Mexican Chile, AKA Anaheim (mild to hot, 1-4): Bright green to red when fresh; brownish red when dried. This long (7-10 inches), thin-skinned flat tube tapers to a blunt point. It's probably best known as the chile of choice for stuffed rellenos. It traveled from Mexico to New Mexico in the late 16th century--then moved made a historic move 300 years later with Emelio Ortega to his California ranch. Ortega made such a commercial go of it that it became known as an Anaheim, despite New Mexico's steady cultivation and improvement of the pepper. When scientists of the National Pepper Conference recently called for a new name designation for the type, New Mexicans girded their loins and did not stop crusading until it was recognized in the Congressional Record as the "New Mexican chile type."

              Pasilla (dried)/Chilaca, fresh (medium to hot, 3-4): "Pasilla," meaning "little raisin," looks just like that--warm black and wrinkled--but long (6-12 inches) and skinny with a pointed end. In its fresh form, "chilaca," or "old-looking," also fits, as it's also wrinkled and bent--but it's chocolate colored from the green chlorophyll sustaining itself into the mature stage when red pigments are produced. Don't confuse these with mislabeled anchos and mulatos--and enjoy the mellow flavor.

              Pequin, see above under Chilpin.

              Pepperoncini (sweet to mild, 0-1): Most often found green, pickled, and in salads, this 2- to 5-inch-long pointy tube is wrinkled, thin-fleshed, and can be grown in a home garden to a red color.

              Pimento (sweet, 0): Heart-shaped and thick-fleshed, this glossy chile ripens from green to red and grows to about 4 inches long. It's got a nice mellow flavor and is great for adding color.

              Poblano (fresh); Ancho and Mulato, dried ( both are mild to hot, 3): The fresh Poblano is a 4-inch-long dark green (ripening to dark red or brown) cone that tapers to a blunt end. It's flesh is undulating and nicely thick. It gets its name from the city of Pueblo, Mexico, where it is a chile of choice--and often used as a relleno shell. It has two dried forms. The "Ancho" is dark brown, which turns brick red after soaking (don't soak it more than an hour...and save the juice to spice soups). The "Mulato" is dark brown that stays brown after soaking--and it has a sweeter, richer, and hotter finish that has also been described as chocolatey.

              Rocoto (worse than habanero, 10++): This capsicum pubescens is a fireball of unbelievable proportions. Generally not available outside of Latin America, since its fragile fruit is grown only in high altitude, cool climates, it comes in green, yellow, and red globes, about 2 x 2 inches, and has a hairy stem.

              Sante Fe Grande (medium to very hot, 6): This glossy wax-type pepper comes in pale greenish yellow, orange, and red and looks like big Christmas tree lights--with smooth, thick flesh, about 3 inches long. Very similar to the Fresno pepper.

              Scotch Bonnet (habanero hot, 10+): A lot of people think this capsicum chinense IS the habanero, but it's not. The big difference between the two is the tip: the Mexican habanero is pointed; the scotch bonnet (from the West Indies) is deeply inverted with a distinctly round bottom--thus making it look like a tam o'shanter with a great big pompom. It comes in green, yellow-orange, and orange.

              Serrano (hot to very hot, 6-8): These glossy green/red tubes are about 2 inches long and blunted at the end. Their name comes from serranias, meaning "foothills," because they're believed to have originated in the foothills north of Pueblo. They don't have to be seeded or peeled--and they have a fresh, crisp finish.

              Tabasco (very hot, 8-9): These little pointy tubes are about 1-inch-long and come in pale yellow-green to yellow to orange to red. A capsicum frutescens pepper, it was commercially developed into a hot pepper sauce by the McIlhenny family in Louisiana--and soon took on the name of the sauce itself. To this day, the McIlhenny family fiercely protects its rights to that name.

              Thai bird peppers, see above under Chiltpin.

              Tomato pepper (sweet, 0-1): This 3-inch pepper is shaped like its name and is thought to be the precursor of the bell pepper. It's thick-fleshed, comes in green and red, and is best known red as a primary source of the spice paprika, in its powdered form.

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              • #8
                Here are the first peppers from my garden I got a few weeks ago.

                http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b202/sltrax/peppers.jpg

                The short ones are jalapenos.

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                • #9
                  Great information Bean!
                  All I know about jalapenos is that the smaller they are..the hotter they'll be. Also, the seeds in it are what make it hot.
                  Those habernero peppers are the hottest thing I've ever tried. I accidently touched my face after handling one of those. I was in the shower pouring cold water on my face for a LONG time after doing that.

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                  • #10
                    Isis, my hands are used to the heat now, but there have been times that darn oil stays in your fingers and if you touch your eye or other parts of the bod you are into some kind of trouble - if ya know what I mean!

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                    • #11
                      Wow Bean, a ton of info there. Thanks!

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                      • #12
                        YW

                        Here is another pic of my peppers (back in VA).

                        The serrano is on the bottom under the yellow pepper. Cottun, can you tell what you got...serrano or jalapeno?

                        http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b202/sltrax/Peppersbefore.jpg

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                        • #13
                          Wow, Bean! Thanks for all the info! The peppers I bought yesterday look like your jalapenos except mine are a little darker and not nearly as smooth and pretty as yours! Thanks again the education! I still wish the grocery store would label them...especially when the produce manager cant help in identifying them either!

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                          • #14
                            Just a tip if you get the pepper oil on you hands run you hands through your hair a few times. Your hair will take the oils off your hands and stop the burning. My boys Dr told us this when DS2 got juice from the plant not pepper of Habañero and literally burned the skin off the bridge of his nose from him rubbing his hands across there.

                            My fav jalapenos are the Mucho Nachos they are good and hot and they get about 3 to 4 inches longs great to make the bacon wrapped grilled peppers.
                            ""Becoming a grandmother is wonderful. One moment you're just a mother. The next you are all-wise and prehistoric.""

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