The First Timers Guide
Peppers are generally either loved or hated, especially if they’re hot! I have met people who would not even eat in our restaurants if we did not have something with some “kick,” as well as those who would not eat there because it is too hot.
Chili’s are great for adding another flavor dimension into dishes, not just adding heat which is usually what most people associate them with. Dried chilis are great for adding deep rich flavor to sauces and soups. They are generally used for soups and sauces because they need to be rehydrated before they can be consumed palatably (if that is even a word). So when using dried chilis most people will rehydrate them in some hot water and then puree them . . . Sometimes seeds and all. Fresh chilis are great for lighter flavoring dishes and obviously don’t need to be rehydrated.
Dried chile pepper wreaths are called “Ristras.” You will see them on people’s doorsteps and porches sometimes (especially in the southwest region of the United States-New Mexico in particular) as they are hung there as a symbol of plenty and hope.
What you might not know . . .
Heat is measured in what we call “Scoville Units,” or SU, after a man by the name of Wilbur Scoville. In 1912 Wilbur, a pharmacologist, began an experiment where he actually dissolved different chilis in alcohol and then dilluted the extract by increasing the amount of water he put in it until the tongue could not taste any heat. For example, a “Scoville” rating of 1,000 refers to 1,000 parts of water to every 1 part of pepper extract. So the more water needed, the hotter the pepper.
For those of you who don’t know the difference between them, or think that a jalapeno is the hottest one around, here is a general guide of some of the most used chilis to help you out.
10+ Red Savina or Orange Habanero
10 Thai Chilis
9 Chili Piquin
8 Cayenne, Serranos
7 Chipoltes (smoked jalapenos)
4 Mulato and Anchos (Dried Poblano)
2 New Mexico
0 Bell Peppers and Pimentos
Even though they don’t have much heat to them anyways, as bell peppers mature their color changes from green to red and they actually become sweeter.
Most people think that the majority of the heat in chilis/peppers comes from the seeds, but in reality the heat is usually stored in the “ribs” or the white internal part of the pepper. There is some in the seeds and the chili/pepper itself, but get rid of the ribs and you get rid of most of the heat.
Are you Burning up?
Capsaicin, which makes hot chilis “hot” to the human mouth, is best neutralized by casein, the main protein found in milk. So next time you have something that is maybe just a little too spicy…. (Get) Milk?!