Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Kat’s Pick a Peck of Peppers 🌶

Kat’s Pick a Peck of Peppers: A Guide to Peppers 
Everyone is familiar with the sweet bell peppers, but why stop there? Be adventurous with your cooking and try one or more of the hot varieties. Pepper heat is based on the level of capsaicin, a chemical compound that creates a burning sensation on contact with mucous membranes, like the skin in our mouths. It is measured in Scoville heat units (SHU), a scale developed by pharmacist Wilbur Scoville in 1912. For a bit of perspective, bell peppers are 0 SHU, Tabasco sauce is 2,500–5,000 SHU, pepper spray is upwards of 2,000,000 SHU, and pure capsaicin is 16,000,000 SHU. Capsaicin is usually concentrated in the seeds and ribs of the pepper, so those can be removed to soften the kick.

Banana Pepper
     These banana-shaped peppers range from sweet to mildly hot. It’s Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) ranges from 0-500. The peppercorn is hotter than this pepper. It’s SHU is 100-500. The sweet version is great for salads, sandwiches (my favorite pepper in my Subway submarine sandwich) and relish plates. The hot version, called Hungarian Hot Wax, is often served stuffed.

Bell Pepper
    The bell pepper is the most common pepper and has a SHU of 0. These sweet, mild peppers can be found in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, from the ubiquitous red, green, and gold to orange, purple, and even chocolate brown. Bell peppers do not contain any capsaicin, making them a delicious addition to salads, stir-fries, and other dishes. Have you seen the bell pepper called Enjoya? It’s striped red and yellow. I just saw my first one a couple of days ago at Kroger.

The Fryer

     This pepper has a SHU range of 0-1000. Sweet frying peppers are a broad category that includes long, thin-fleshed varieties, such as Cubanelle, Italianelle, Gypsy, and Jimmy Nardello. Their flavor is enhanced when sautéed with a bit of oil.

Personally I didn’t know there were so many peppers. Here is a list of peppers with the SHU 0:

     We are going to turn up the heat with the poblano pepper. It’s SHU ranges from 500-2500.  This mildly spicy dark green chile originating from Puebla, Mexico, is traditionally stuffed, breaded, and deep-fried for chile rellenos. (One of my favorite Mexican dishes)  When dried, it is known as an ancho, a common ingredient in the classic Oaxacan sauce mole poblano

     This is the best known hot pepper aka chili pepper in the United States and is used widely in southwestern cooking; nachos, salsas, stews, chili and more. They are easily seeded and available fresh or canned. Smoked jalapeños are known as chipotles. The SHU reange is from 2500-8000. 

     Skinner than the jalapeño this pepper turns up the heat a few notches as it’s SHU range is 10,000-23,000 and can be found in green to red. It’s often used in spicy salsas and guacamoles.

  Usually found dried and ground, this pepper packs a punch with a SHU range of 30,000-50,000. It comes in hues of red to yellow and often used in Asian dishes and hot sauces.

     With a SHU range of 100,000-350,000 this pepper is a favorite in hot sauces. 

Here’s the website to see the  list of peppers over SHU 0 (too many too count) http://ushotstuff.com/Heat.Scale.htm

Here’s a recipe using sweet peppers: Roasted Peppers with Basil 


1 each green, red and yellow pepper 
9 fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove, minced 
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar 
1/8 teaspoon salt 


Broil peppers 4” from heat until the skins blister, about 6-8 minutes. With tongs rotate a quarter turn. Broil and rotate until all sides are blistered and blackened. Immediately place peppers in a bowl, cover and let stand 15-20 minutes.  Peel and discard charred pepper skin. Remove stems and seeds. Cut peppers into 1/4” bite size pieces and place in bowl. Add garlic and basil, toss to coat. Drizzle on the vinegar and sprinkle with salt, toss to coat. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes before serving. Yum Yum!

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