From a hint of heat to flam­ing hot, pep­per scan add a de­li­cious di­men­sion to some of your fa­vorite dishes.


PEO­PLE WHO EN­JOY THAI CURRY, CHILE RELLENOS AND EVEN PENNE ARRABIATA KNOW THE PLEA­SURE A LIT­TLE CHILI PEP­PER CAN add to a dish. Pep­pers are the golden key when it comes to trans­form­ing a dish from for­get­table to ex­cit­ing. When it comes to mapping out the per­son­al­i­ties of these mild, sweet, spicy and cit­rusy pep­pers, the op­tions are prac­ti­cally end­less.

First, a lit­tle his­tory about pep­pers for your next din­ner party con­ver­sa­tion starter : The term “chili pep­per” is a broad term that groups thou­sands of pep­pers un­der one um­brella since the plant it­self mu­tates so quickly that an ex­ces­sive amount of va­ri­eties ex­ist now. Up un­til the ar­rival of Por­tuguese and Span­ish ex­plor­ers in the New World, pep­pers only grew in Latin Amer­ica. Soon enough, chili cul­ti­va­tors brought chilies across the world to Asia, Europe and be­yond for food and medic­i­nal pur­poses. To­day, pep­pers are still used as a main cook­ing in­gre­di­ent around the globe from In­dia and China to Morocco and Hun­gary. For peo­ple who can't take the heat, look to poblano pep­pers for a mild hint of spice. These pep­pers are prac­ti­cally made for grilling and stuff­ing ( poblanos are used for chile rellenos) thanks to its fairly big size and eas­ily blis­tered skin.

One of the most rec­og­nized pep­pers in the bunch is the jalapeño. This ver­sa­tile pep­per is com­monly used to heat up gua­camole, pico de gallo or cream cheese filled jalapeno pop­pers. To lessen the heat of this green pep­per (or red, de­pend­ing on when it's har­vested), stay away from its seeds and the flesh near the seeds that can eas­ily set the tongue on fire.

An­other pep­per you've prob­a­bly come across is cayenne. The skinny, bright red pep­per is usu­ally con­sumed in its pow­dered form (cayenne pep­per), Tex- Mex food or al­ter­na­tively in fresh pressed juices with lemon and ginger.

As one of the hottest types of pop­u­lar chilies, ha­banero pep­pers pack a lot of heat for its small, bul­bous shape. Ha­baneros are usu­ally or­ange but also come in a red or white- ish yel­low hue, and are the go- to pep­per for many sal­sas and hot sauces.

For lesser- known pep­pers, the lemon drop pep­per and fa­talii pep­per are both bright yel­low pep­pers worth tr ying. Where as the lemon drop is mildy hot with notes of cit­rus and lemon, the fa­talii pep­per still has a cit­rus fla­vor but is twice as hot as ha­baneros.

If you can't get enough of that burn­ing tongue sen­sa­tion, the ghost pep­per should more than sat­isfy you. Close to be­ing the hottest pep­per in the world, ghost pep­pers leave your mouth burn­ing for up to 30 min­utes.

Vary­ing in size, spici­ness and fla­vor, pep­pers like cayenne pep­pers (t op lef t), ba­nana pep­pers (t op right) and Thai pep­pers (above) have a per­son­al­ity of their own.

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