UACES Facebook Unless You Are A Chile Expert You May be Confused By Pepper Varieties
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Unless You Are A Chile Expert You May be Confused By Pepper Varieties


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 units.

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 chile.

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 chiles.

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, on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at

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.

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.

Per Serving:

107.1 calories; 3.5 g protein; 11.8 g carbohydrates; 0 mg cholesterol; 414.7 mg sodium.

By Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609


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