Hot Stuff – 5 Ways to Enjoy Hot Peppers
By Debra Morris, PCFMA
Are you one of those people who like peppers so hot they make your eyes water, your throat close, and your hands shake? Then hot peppers are what you’re after. Thai chili peppers, habanero peppers, or even the infamous ghost pepper (Naga Jolokia) will have you grabbing for the milk. Stop by your local farmers’ market for a wide selection of peppers. They have everything from sweet and mild to 5-alarm blistering hot peppers during the summer months.
The heat you feel from eating a hot pepper is determined by the amount of capsaicin. A pepper’s heat is measured in Scoville Units. Developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912, Scoville Units measure chili pepper heat in multiples of 100.
Bell peppers and sweet Italian peppers stand at zero, jalapeños at 5,000, cayenne peppers at 50,000, and habanero peppers at 300,000 to 1,000,000 Scoville Units! Thai peppers have names like Volcano and Scorpion and come in at 115,000 Scovilles. With new hotter varieties of habaneros named Carolina Reaper, Devil’s Tongue, and Komodo Dragon at over 1.4 million Scovilles, you know they’re going to make you sweat!
It takes hot temperatures to grow peppers so the San Joaquin Valley/Fresno area is the perfect spot to grow them. Look for a variety of farmers to bring these fabulous hot peppers to your local farmers’ market.
Although eating hot peppers can be a painful experience for some, capsaicin actually produces endorphins, which may account for the good feelings experienced after consumption. So buy some Thai chilis or habaneros and enjoy a spicy experience! Try these easy ways to fire up your taste buds:
1. Stuff jalapeños with cream cheese and herbs, top with shredded cheddar, and broil.
2. Add chopped and seeded jalapenos to your cornbread for an extra zip.
3. Add finely chopped habaneros to your 5-Alarm Chili recipe.
4. Stir fry vegetables with pork or chicken. Then add Thai chilis. Kung Pao, anyone?
5. Add finely chopped jalapeno peppers to any canned jam you’re making. It’s especially good with apricot jam.