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hot-chili-peppersIn anticipation of Cinco de Mayo next month, let’s educate ourselves about the various chile peppers used to give Mexican food a kick.

Chile peppers have been used as flavorings for local foods for thousands of years. It is thought that chile peppers were among the first self-pollinating cultivated crops grown in Central and South America. As history tells, Columbus was one of the first Europeans to discover the taste of the chile pepper and he thought it had a spicy hot taste similar to the black or white European pepper. As the spice trade flourished and soon after Columbus’s travels, chile peppers were found in local cuisines throughout the world…from Mexico to the Philippines, India, China, Korea, Japan through Central Asia to Turkey and Hungary and other European countries. In Hungary, the chile pepper is known as paprika.

Below find a sampling of peppers and their uses:

Ancho/Poblano San Luis Peppers

These glossy flattened peppers are a dark shiny green color. When fresh they are called Poblano peppers. The fruit is 4-5 inches long and is heart shaped. When the pepper is dried, it is reddish brown in color and is then called an Ancho pepper. The pepper is easily dried and is relatively mild with a mellow aromatic flavor. They are usually stuffed or roasted and then added to tomato or egg dishes.

Banana Peppers

These peppers, also known as yellow wax peppers were named for their resemblance to bananas. Although most banana peppers are typically yellow, they can also be orange or red and varies in flavor from mild to just moderately hot. The yellow peppers are generally pickled and are enjoyed as a sandwich garnish.

Bulgarian Carrot

The fruit of this is about 3 ½ inches long and a bright fluorescent orange color. It has quite a bit of heat but the fruity flavor makes it a perfect ingredient for chutneys, marinades, salsas and pickles or even as a glaze for meats.

Cascabella

The name cascabella means “beautiful skin” and these thick walled, small fat fruits ripen from yellow to orange to a bright red. Cascabellas are enjoyable at any color stage, but the perfect bite sized chilies are usually enjoyed in the yellow state as hot pickled peppers.

Cayenne Peppers

These hot peppers are among the most popular pepper varieties and are used in cuisines around the world. They range in color from deep green to yellow, orange and dark red and have a wrinkled appearance.

Chipotle Peppers

Its origin goes back to Mexico as a way to preserve fresh jalapeno peppers. To do this, the peppers were smoked over a wood fire until they were completely dried and attained a smoky flavor. They are then ground into a powder and can be used to add a deep smoky spicy flavor to many dishes.

For more information on chili peppers and other tasty seasonings and herbs, please visit Sally's Place. 

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