Turn Up The Heat: All About Hot Peppers

November is National Pepper Month and while there are both sweet and hot pepper varieties, I’ve decided to focus on the most popular hot peppers for this blog entry.  You might be surprised to learn that there are more than 130 different varieties of hot peppers!  Many I hadn’t even heard of until I started doing my research and many I’m sure I wouldn’t even venture to try, given the intense heat they are reported to have.
Hot peppers are rated by the Scoville Scale, which is a measurement of pungency or spicy heat of peppers and other spicy foods and was developed by American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville.  Peppers with the highest rating exceed one million units on the Scoville scale.  In addition to their obvious spicy flavor, hot peppers (like sweet peppers) carry valuable nutrients.  They are excellent sources of Vitamin C, a good source of Vitamin A and folate.  A few of the more common and popular hot pepper varieties include:

  • Habanero Pepper – 150,000-325,000 Scoville units
  • Thai Chile Pepper – 50,000-100,000 Scoville units
  • Serrano Pepper – 10,000-25,000 Scoville units
  • Jalapeno Pepper – 2,500-10,000 Scoville units
  • Cherry Bomb Pepper – 2,500-5,000 units

Though you may think of hot peppers as a condiment when adding them to your sandwiches or as a topping to nachos or other appetizers, there are other creative ways to use them as well.  Healthy Habanero Stuffed Poblano Peppers takes a sweeter Poblano variety and adds a spicy filling.  Brown rice, onion, kidney beans, seasonings and habanero hot sauce are combined for a satisfying meal.  Top it with a bit of cheese and cilantro.

habanero stuffed poblanos
Photo courtesy of Baker by Nature
Super Easy Hot Pepper Jelly is made by combining both jalapeno peppers and a variety of yellow, green and red, sweet bell peppers.  Remove the seeds from the jalapenos if you want a milder jelly.  You can serve this with cheese and crackers or a baguette.

hot pepper jelly
Photo courtesy of The View from Great Island
Green Chile-Zucchini Quesadillas can be served as an appetizer or main dish.  Roasted green chiles, shaved zucchini, and chopped onion are combined with shredded Monterey Jack cheese in flour tortillas.  Top with your favorite salsa and/or sour cream.

Photo courtesy of Full and Content
I hope these recipes help you incorporate hot peppers into more of your dishes.  I’ll be back next week with five flavorful stuffing ideas for Thanksgiving.
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