Creative Combinations Await!
The genus Capsicum originated in Central and South America, but members of the genus have been crossed so that many intermediate forms occur. Therefore, they are treated as one large group of cultivars. The aromatic hot pepper was likely introduced to West Africa later than the chili pepper. Peppers are consumed in fresh, dried, or in processed form. Hot peppers are usually consumed in small quantities as a condiment or spice for seasoning. Try stuffing hotter Italian peppers or adding jalapeno and habanero peppers to salsas and spicy dishes. Hot peppers generally dry well for later use.
Those interested in evolutionary biology should note that capsicum, presumably ‘intended’ to deter herbivores from eating the fruit, is detected only by the palate of mammals, but does not deter birds. This suggests that throughout the pepper’s long evolutionary history, which has been largely confined to the Americas, birds have served as better seed dispersers than mammals. Even if the pepper hasn’t chosen us as its favorite seed disperser, humans have certainly taken a liking to peppers, the fourth favorite culinary vegetable in Britain, despite the pepper’s best attempt to deter us.
Storing & Cooking Information
Handling: Hot peppers contain the irritant capsaicin that causes a burning sensation when it comes into contact with sensitive tissue. Be cautious to avoid rubbing eyes especially if you have been handling chilies. To cut the heat in your recipe, remove the seeds and veins from your chilies before using.
Storing: Peppers can last for several days to a few weeks at room temperature or in the refrigerator before they start to rot.
Freezing: Freezing peppers, if done right, can make them last several months, but the thawing process can be a tricky one where often you're left with overly soft and mushy chilies.
Drying: Dried chilies can last from several months to a few years if store properly. Removing moisture from peppers will magnify and intensify the heat, flavor, and natural sugars it contains. To dry indoors, place whole or sliced chili peppers single-layer on a plate and set them in a very dry, warm, and extremely well-ventilated area with loads of sunlight. Rotate the peppers regularly and discard any that show signs of softness or spoilage. If at all possible, place your plate outdoors when the forecast calls for hot, sunny, and dry weather (this will speed up the drying process). Within one or two weeks, you should start seeing your beloved chilies get dry and brittle.