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TEXARKANA, Ark. –
When you think of chile peppers, chance is you think of the tongue-searing heat they
provide. Can you imagine how bland food would be without them?
The chemical responsible for making chile peppers hot is called capsaicin. The heat
in chile peppers come from five compounds of this chemical. Some of these compounds
are more pungent than others and their development varies according to species, growth
conditions, and stages of maturity. Most of the capsaicin is found on the longitudinal
ribs inside of the chile pepper.
By removing the seeds, you can reduce some of the heat of the chile. Although the
chile heat varies greatly, smaller varieties are generally hotter than larger ones.
The heat of the chile is rated in Scoville heat units from 1 to 1 million. The Anaheim
is rated at between 100-500 units whereas a habanero pepper can rate as high as 300,000
The ghost pepper hits the Scoville scale at a mind blowing 855,000 to 1,041,427 Scoville heat units. The Carolina Reaper eclipses it at 1,400,000 to 2,200,000 SHU. For reference let’s compare it to jalapeño, at the minimum, this duo will be 107 times hotter than a jalapeño and at the max,
we are talking 880 times hotter. These things are dangerous! For this reason, it is
hard to find the Carolina Reaper or the Ghost Pepper. You might find them at the farmers
market, but likely won’t find them in the supermarket.
Capsaicin (the substance that makes peppers hot) is only slightly soluble in water;
therefor water is not very effective at quenching the heat. The best and quickest
remedy to quench the heat is a cup of whole milk rinsed well in the mouth or eaten
with the food. Other dairy products such as sour cream, yogurt, ice cream also work,
if they are not low-fat. Lower fat products do not work as well because the fat content
in these products is what capsaicin binds to.
Chile peppers are a rich source of vitamin C (more than red and green bell peppers),
vitamin A, folic acid, vitamin E and potassium. Plus, they provide good flavor, and
for a food plan that may be a bit on the boring side, especially for those with diabetes,
a touch of chile can really brighten up the dullest of foods.
When selecting fresh chiles to add spice to your meals, make sure they are firm, smooth
and glossy with no signs of splitting. Refrigerate them in a plastic bag for up to
3 days. When handling fresh chiles it is best to protect your hands with thin rubber
gloves and avoid touching your eyes and face.
If you are not a chile expert, you may be a bit confused at first with all the varieties.
One name can refer to several different chiles and one chile may go by more than one
name. Here are the most common:
Anaheim: Comes fresh and canned. Also called California fresh chile or long green
chile. Pointed 6 to 7-inch-long bright green and mild to medium hot in flavor. Dried
Anaheim’s are often labeled New Mexico dried chilies.
Cayenne: This is a dried thin, fiery hot in flavor chile. These are used in commercially
ground powder known as ground red pepper or cayenne pepper.
Chipotle: These come dried or canned. This is the name of the smoked and red jalapeno
Habanero: This small, lantern-shaped chile is extremely hot. It’s color ranges from
light green to bright orange when ripe. It’s generally used for sauces in both its
fresh and dried form.
Jalapeno: Jalapenos come fresh or canned. These are easy to find and are one of the
most popular chile varieties. You can find these at the Gateway Farmers Market.
Poblano: This fresh chile is mild to medium hot in flavor and its triangular shape
is conducive for stuffing, such as in chile rellenos. Dried poblanos are called ancho
Serrano: Serranoes are fresh, more slender and hotter than a jalapeno. But often they
are used interchangeably with jalapenos.
Consider the chile pepper and its nutritional varieties the next time you want to
spice up a recipe. And as always, if you need additional information on cooking with
chile peppers, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609. We're online
at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS
or on the web at uaex.uada.edu/Miller.
Here is a recipe to add a little spice to your meal. If you want more heat, you can
add serrano peppers in place of the jalapenos. Shop the Farmers Market for the freshest
vegetables for this Texas Caviar.
1/2 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1(8 ounce) bottle zesty Italian dressing
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro
In a large bowl, mix together onion, green bell pepper, green onions, jalapeno peppers,
garlic, cherry tomatoes, zesty Italian dressing, black beans, black-eyed peas and
coriander. Cover and chill in the refrigerator approximately 2 hours. Toss with desired
amount of fresh cilantro to serve.
107.1 calories; 3.5 g protein; 11.8 g carbohydrates; 0 mg cholesterol; 414.7 mg sodium.
By Carla Due County Extension Agent - FCSThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Carla Due County Extension Agent - FCSU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854 (870) 779-3609 email@example.com
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
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other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.