Chili

Capsicum frutescens L.

As member of the nightshade family, there are several subspecies of capsicum in cultivation. The plant grows up to 1.8 metres high and its greenish white flowers produce the chili pods. The fruits are initially green and turn orange-red to dark red as they ripen. After harvesting, they are dried and then ground into cayenne pepper. Whole, dried chili pods and chili flakes with or without seeds are also available commercially. The hot flavour is concentrated in the seeds and septa (ribs). How hot cayenne pepper is depends on the variety used (there are over 2,000) and the proportion of seeds and skin included in processing. The degree of pungency can be selected and quantified by measuring in Scoville units.

Countries of origin

Central and South America, India, Africa, Turkey, Thailand, Japan
Cayenne pepper is probably named after the port city of Cayenne in French Guiana, even though Cayenne was never a major exporter of the spice and was better known for the penal colony located off its coast on Devil's Island. Today, the pungent chili pods are most widely cultivated in Central and South America.

Flavour and aroma

The fiery hot flavour of chili makes it stand out among the other sharply pungent spices. This effect is most intense in combination with meat and nuts. Chili and salsa sauces, piquant dishes, such as chili con carne; goulash, soups, meat loaf, fish, shellfish and vegetables Cayenne pepper is added to all piquant dishes, such as chili con carne, soups, sauces, spicy marinades, salsas and chutneys. Tabasco and sambal oelek are true classics for chillies. It gives not only hearty ragouts and meat dishes, but also dips and dressings a perfect spicy, hot touch.


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