Wednesday, November 16th, 2016 | crankit
Available in mild, medium, hot, very hot, ‘excruciating’, and ‘you’ll wish you’d never been born’
Capsicum annuum, Capsicum frutescens
Native to the Americas, peppers and chillis are not related in any manner to black pepper. They were originally cultivated by the Incas of Peru and so highly valued in that the pods were used as currency; even until the middle of the 20th century in some places. Peru’s government has recently decreed that hot chilli sauce has decidedly aphrodisiac qualities and ordered it not to be used in prison food, advising that the sauce is not ‘appropriate for men forced to live a limited life style’.
The heat in all chiles, whether hot or mild, is due to the flavorless, odorless, colorless chemical known as capsaicin. In 1912, William Scoville, a Detroit pharmacologist, measured capsaicin by having a panel of hardy souls sip a sweetened solution of dried chile peppers dissolved in alcohol. The concoction had decreasing amounts of capsaicin until it no longer burned. The results were converted into Scoville units — with no mention made as to what happened to all those tasters. In recent years, this subjective test was converted to a chemical process, but with results still expressed as Scoville units. Scoville units can range from zero (the good old capsicum) to more than half a million (the Red Savina habanero chile). Disagreement is common, but the ratings give a good idea of relative chile heat.
Vitamin A, B and C, carotenoids and capsaicin, an anti-bacterial phenolic compound.
Good for the circulatory system in general, dissolving blood clots, opening air passages, acting as expectorant and decongestant; helps prevent stomach ulcers (turning previous advice on it’s head!), increases peristaltic movement and hence speeds up metabolism. Also anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial.
Virtually all chilli peppers are sprayed with insecticides and herbicides and treated with fungicides.
Biological pest control is used by organic growers for all members of the pepper family. Professional chefs reckon organic chillies are the hottest.
My kingdom for a
glass of water!