How Hot do you like your Chilli
Move over jalapenos, there’s someone hotter in town, and it’s 629 times spicier. In fact, the BBC reported that the Carolina Reaper pepper is the hottest on the planet, scoring a red hot 2.2 million on the scoville scale, the official measurement of chilli potency.
They can be green, yellow, orange, red or black. There are more than 200 known varieties and they differ greatly in size, colour and level of hotness and they can be smokey or sweet. It is said that the smaller and greener they are the hotter they will be. A useful guide but these days not always the case! With so many hybrids and new varieties there are also large hot ones, very hot red ones and very sweet green ones! It's worth bearing in mind that individual chillies of the same variety and even from the same plant can contain different levels of capsaicin, the volatile oil that gives chilli its heat. So buyer beware!
Believe it or not ..... There is an official heat scale for chillies known as The Scoville scale, developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912. A sweet pepper scores 0 on the scale, Jalapeño and chipotle chillies score anything between 2,500 to 10,000 and habañero, Scotch bonnet score 80,000 to 300,000 plus! But if you like your chillies extremely hot try the Carolina Reaper (currently the world’s hottest chilli). A common mistake with chillies is that the seeds are the hottest part - NOT SO. While they are hot, the worst part is the white placenta that holds the seeds to the inside of the pod. So both the seeds and placenta must be removed to decrease the heat.
|Chilli & Chocolate a winning combo|
- Poblano - mildly hot, dried chilli used in the Mexican mole poblano sauce
- Mulato Isleño - mildly hot chilli with a deep, sweet flavour
- Ortega - elongated mildly hot New Mexican chilli, ideal for use in stews and salsas
- Chipotle - mild, dried smoked chilli commonly used in Mexican cooking and commercially produced chilli sauces
- Pasillas - long, very dark brown chillies, usually sold dried, then ground and added to sauces
- Jalapeños - fiery chillies, used either fresh or pickled; can be dried and smoked to make chipotles towards the end of the growing season
- Tabasco - hot chillies with a distinctive flavour that comes from a fermentation process in which the chillies are combined with vinegar and salt
- Bird's-eye - tiny but powerful green and red chillies, especially common in Thai and South-east Asian cooking
- Habañero - lantern-shaped, blow-your-head-off hot chilli, usually orange, with a slightly fruity flavour
- Scotch Bonnet - lantern-shaped red-hot chilli related to the habañero, usually yellow, green or red in colour
To prepare fresh chillies:
- slit them lengthwise,
- remove the seeds and membranes with the tip of the knife and cut off the stem.
- Rinse them under cold running water and then prepare according to the recipe.
|What to do with our harvest of Chillies|
- place them under a very hot pre-heated grill,
- directly over a gas flame or - best of all - over hot coals,
- until the skin blackens and blisters.
- Be careful not to over-roast chillies as they tend to disintegrate.
- Gently warm the oil in a large pan – around 75C is ideal – and add the chillies.
- Heat for four minutes then take it off the burner and leave aside to cool.
- Carefully decant through a funnel into a sterilised bottle.
- It’s ready to pour straight away, but its flavour, heat and health-giving qualities will continue to develop over time as the capsaicin in the chillies infuses into the oil.
- Halve 6-7 chillies, throw them in a medium-hot cast iron pan with a tablespoon of cumin seeds and toast for around 5min. (For a milder powder, remove stems and seeds first.)
- Leave to cool, then whizz up in a blender (or coffee grinder) with 1 tbsp of garlic powder and 1/2 tbsp of oregano.
- Tip into an airtight jar and deploy at will.
- Sprinkle into a sweet potato and spinach curry for a triple whammy of eyesight-protecting vitamin A.
- Blend together six whole chillies with around half their weight in oil. That’s your basic paste.
- Leave that aside while you heat up a dash of oil in a pan and gently fry three cloves of garlic, three onions and six tablespoons of tomato paste.
- Once the ingredients are softening, add your paste and season with salt and sugar to taste.
- Cook for another 10-15 minutes over a medium heat before serving (or pouring into a sterilised bottle).
|Chilli Crab is one of our favourites|
- Stave off colds. The capsaicin opens the nasal passages, easing congestion.
- Increase the metabolic rate, helping burn calories.
- Reduce cholesterol and fight high blood pressure.
- Assist sound sleep. Capsaicin is thought to influence brain receptors which control sleep cycles.
- Relieve arthritis pain when applied via topical cream.
- Possibly kill cancer cells. Scientists are currently investigating.
- Capsaicin is responsible for stimulating the sensors on the tongue which detect heat and pain, tricking the brain into thinking the tongue is on fire!
If you’re wondering what you can cook with some chilli I have some great recipes for you! There's a variety of recipes in the Our Galley recipe pages that have a delicious chilli focus.