Pepper Info

Hot peppers that we have come to know today all orginate from the genus Capsicum. Capsicum is a genus of plants from the night shade family (Solanaceae) native to the Americas. Members of the Capsicum are used as spices, vegetables, and medicines. The actual name of the fruit of the Capsicum plant varies on which region it was grown in. These fruits derive there heat from the chemical capsaicin (methyl vanillyl nonenamide).

Capsaicin is a lipophilic chemical that can produce a strong burning sensation in the mouth (and, if not properly digested, the anus) of the unaccustomed eater. Most mammals find this sensation unpleasant; however birds are unaffected by the capsaicin. Secretion of capsaicin, by the fruits, is an adaptation to protect the fruit from consumption by mammals while the bright colors attract birds that will spread the seeds. The amount of capsaicin in peppers varies and dependst on the genetics of the plant, giving almost all types of peppers varied amounts of perceived heat. The only pepper without capsaicin is the bell pepper(Capsicum annuum), which has a zero rating on the Scoville Scale. Capsaicin is also extract to be used in modern medicine—mainly in topical medications—as a circulatory stimulant and pain reliever.

Capsicum fruits and peppers can be eaten raw or cooked. Those used in cooking are generally varieties of the C. annuum and C. frutescens species, though a few others are used as well. They are suitable for stuffing with fillings such as cheese, meat, or rice. They are also frequently used both chopped and raw in salads, or cooked in stir-fries or other mixed dishes. They can be sliced into strips and fried, roasted whole or in pieces, or chopped and incorporated into salsas or other sauces.

They can be preserved by drying, pickling or freezing. Dried peppers may be reconstituted whole, or processed into flakes or powders. Pickled or marinated peppers are frequently added to sandwiches or salads. Frozen peppers are used in stews, soups, and salsas. Extracts can be made and incorporated into hot sauces.