chillin' with chiles and chilis

Reply Tue 14 Feb, 2012 08:08 pm
Time for me to learn the local chiles here in New Mexico so that I pick the right ones for different dishes. Long ago I used to be able to take the hottest indian food (or so I thought, not having been to India) but by now I've mellowed to liking, say, medium hot. I know different chiles have different attributes, besides heat or lack of it, such as sweetness, have varying flavor, and can be smoked, and but don't know which are which by name. I know Farmerman likes Sandia chiles, rated at http://www.chilepepperinstitute.org/ in their shop/NMSUseeds section as "Very hot with smaller, less meaty pods. Great for dried powder."

Some of the paprika varieties from NM sound good, like NuMexGarnet: "No heat, high red, paprika." Well, that one is pretty in the photo...
Ah, but those names in the NMSU seed section don't fit with the packages of dried pods or crushed peppers at my grocery store, so I'm going to be looking those up via their package brand names.

Under Other Varieties (aka, not from New Mexico) is the name of some I bought this week, as a mystery package - Chile de Arbol. The Chile Institute says, "Very popular for spicing up dishes. Hot, light green to red."
Eeeeek, then there's Trinidad Scorpion -
"One of the Super Hot varieties in Capsicum chinense from the island of trinidad, rates over 1.3 million SHU. Due to very limited quantity of this seed there is a 5 packet maximum per person or company per year."

Here's another one of the "other varieties" , cultivated in Florida - Datil.
"Datil: (Capsicum chinense), cultivated in St. Augustine, Florida this pepper carries a lot of mythology of where it came from. ‘Datil' is unique in that it is extremely hot but also very sweet, very hot."

And, doesn't say where from, Aji Limon: "This chile plant has small, upright, very hot peppers with lemony overtone."

Well, that's only one website, I've got lots of homework here.
Not only don't I know New Mexican chiles, I know even less about those from Japan or Thailand, or India, or, or, or.

I'll write what I find out here, mostly for myself, but maybe others here would be interested and will add on info.

Me, if I grow any chiles this year, it won't be from seed but starter pots from a particular local nursery - so I'll have to look up their listed varieties.
This thread is mostly to acquaint myself with what is in my store the rest of the year, lest I croak from an esophagus spasm in some kind of hot chile defensive maneuver (kidding, kidding, I think).
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Reply Tue 14 Feb, 2012 08:57 pm
NMSU’s Chile Pepper Institute names hottest pepper

Scorpion pepper hottest on planet
NMSU’s Chile Pepper Institute names hottest pepper

Updated: Monday, 13 Feb 2012, 6:14 PM MST
Published : Monday, 13 Feb 2012, 6:14 PM MST

LAS CRUCES, NM - When it comes to bringing the heat, there's a new king of the hill. According to a first-of-its-kind scientific study on "super-hot" chile varieties, New Mexico State University's Chile Pepper Institute has identified the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion as the new hottest pepper on the planet.

"For this study, we wanted to establish the average heat levels for super-hot varieties. That's something that hadn't been scientifically set," said Paul Bosland, an NMSU Regents Professor and director of the Chile Pepper Institute. "We also wanted to see which chile pepper truly has the highest heat levels."

For the study, Bosland and his partners Danise Coon, a senior research specialist, and Gregory Reeves, a graduate student, looked at several chile breeds reputed to be among the hottest in the world, including Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, Trinidad Scorpion, 7-pot, Chocolate 7-pot and Bhut Jolokia - a previous world record holder identified by the Chile Pepper Institute and certified by Guinness World Records in 2007.

Each of the super-hot varieties was grown in an NMSU plant science research field, following standard agricultural practices for chile peppers grown in Southern New Mexico. Later, randomly selected, mature fruits from several plants within each variety were selected, harvested, dried and ground to powder. The capsaicinoids, or the compounds that produce heat sensation, were then extracted and examined.

The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion scored highest, overall, in mean heat with more than 1.2 million Scoville Heat Units. Chocolate 7-pot came in at almost 1.17 million SHU. 7-pot placed third with more than 1.06 million SHU. Trinidad Scorpion packed almost 1.03 million SHU and Bhut Jolokia had almost 1.02 million SHU.

Chile peppers of the same variety will often vary in heat, even when grown in the same field or picked from the same plant. This study saw similar results, with some individual plants scoring much higher than the mean heat levels. Two individual Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper plants registered more than 2 million SHU - almost twice as hot as an average Bhut Jolokia pepper.

"Part of the reason we conducted this research is that rigorous scientific testing is required to ensure accurate determination of super hot heat levels," Coon said. "The Chile Pepper Institute, as the leading authority on chile peppers, was a logical place for this research to be conducted."

The chile industry is already taking notice of Bosland's study. Over the past few years, CaJohns Fiery Foods has worked with NMSU's Chile Pepper Institute to create products with super-hot chile varieties. The company has Holy Jolokia hot sauce, salsa and barbecue sauce available which are made from the Bhut Jolokia pepper. The company's latest creation is Sancto Scorpio hot sauce, made from the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper.

This is from the source I've been using for my vegetable garden info:


Peppers (Capsicum spp.) exhibit a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and tastes. The term "pepper" should not be confused with "black pepper" (Piper nigrum), which is produced from the dried, unripe fruit of a vine grown in India and Ceylon. Peppers can generally be classified into two groups: mild- or sweet-tasting fruit (bell, pimento, sweet wax types) and fruit with hot or pungent flesh (long green and jalape?o types). In New Mexico, the latter are often referred to as "chile."

Direct seed peppers at about the average date of the last killing frost, or transplant them into the garden after danger of frost. There are several methods of direct seeding peppers. Many New Mexicans use the hill method, placing several seeds in hills spaced about 12 in. apart in a row. When seedlings appear, thin all but two or three of the stronger plants. Rather than thinning completely, allow some plants to continue developing for later transplanting to bare places where no seedlings sprouted.

As an alternative to the hill method, gardeners may choose to sow seeds in rows. Sow seeds about 1 in. apart in a straight row near the edge of the furrow. When the plants develop four or more true leaves, thin to one plant every 12-24 in. To get a head start on pepper production, many gardeners raise or buy transplants to set in the garden after danger of frost.

Provide peppers with an even moisture supply, but take care not to overwater. Chile wilt (phytophthora root rot) can be a major problem under wet conditions. On the other hand, insufficient water may lead to blossom-end rot.


Bell Peppers:

California Wonder 72-75 Smooth, blocky, 3-4 lobes, 4-by-4 inch pods; pods thick, glossy green to red.

Crispy Hybrid 70 Blocky, thick walls, 3-4 lobes, 3-by-3.5 inch pods; good yields.

Gypsy Hybrid 62 All-American winner; early, prolific, sweet, tasty, well-shaped pods; pods with 3 lobes, 3-4 inches long; orange-red fruit when mature.

Hybrid Bell Boy 70 Early, tasty, large, meaty pods, 4 lobes, 4.5-inches long; good yields.

Yolowonder B, Improved 75 Well-shaped, thick walls, blocky, 4 lobes; good yields.

Pepper, Chile (pungent):

Anaheim 77-80 Pods 6-8 inches long, tapered, medium thick; pungent, deep green turning red at maturity.

Española Imp. 70 Pods 5-6 inches long, wide shoulder, smooth, tapering; green to red chile; relatively pungent.

New Mexico 6-4 74-76 Pods 6-7 inches long, smooth skin, blunt point; green to red color; mild pungency.

NuMex Big Jim 75 Big, mildly hot, 10-inch pods; fruit long and slender, red when fully mature.

NuMex Joe E. Parker 70 Uniform 6- to 8-inch pods; bright green to red fruit; flesh thick and crispy with mild heat.

NuMex R Naky 75 Pods 6-7 inches long, round shoulder, tapered; green to red color; very mild in flavor.

Sandia 77-80 Pods 6 inches long, round shouldered, straight; green to red color; pungent; medium thick flesh.

Pepper, Chile (jalapeño)

Giant Jalapeño 65 Heavy yields; large, 4-inch, medium green, slightly tapered, blunt fruit; thick flesh; medium hot; early.

Jalapeño 75 Dark green, 3-inch pods with rounded tips; medium hot; thick walled.

Jalapeño M 73 Pungent, 3.5-inch fruit; sausage-shaped, blunt ends, thick-walled; dark green.

TAM Mild Jalapeño 75 Mild, moderately thick flesh; deep green pods with blunt ends; pods 3.5 inches long.

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Reply Tue 14 Feb, 2012 09:01 pm
As for cooking, these from the Cook's Thesaurus may help:

They also rate the peppers from 1 to 5 with 1 being mild and 5 being extremely hot.

Fresh Chile Peppers

Dried Chile Peppers

Sweet Peppers
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Reply Tue 14 Feb, 2012 09:02 pm
I had success growing some sweet peppers in the garden two years ago. Tried growing bell peppers last summer, but we didn't have the right weather for them last year.

May try some more sweet peppers this year.
Reply Tue 14 Feb, 2012 09:25 pm
Thanks - we were looking at the same site, but good to see the details detailed. And good to see the foodsubs links.

I hope InfraBlue shows up - he was talking about the jalapeno being made milder recently..
Reply Tue 14 Feb, 2012 09:42 pm
Sara Moulton has been talking about the weakened jalapenos on her PBS cooking show lately too.

From the blog on her website:

A nutcase scientist in Texas has been breeding jalapenos to lose their heat. I don’t understand this; I mean who needs a little green pepper? Unfortunately this scientist has been somewhat successful. So now when I go to the supermarket I buy twice as many chiles as the recipe calls for. I cut one open and taste a little bit to see if it is kicking. If it has no heat I go to the next pepper, if it has some but not a lot of heat I will throw some of its seeds and ribs into the recipe as well (most of the heat in a chile is in the seed pod, seeds, and ribs).
Reply Wed 15 Feb, 2012 05:53 am
Peppers cross pollinate sooo easily, so when you grow sweet bells, if you plant em too close to hot peppers, the bells will have a bit of heat to deal with.

Bell peppers need a continuous moisture allotment and some shade where its really hot. Growing them in Sacramento, I had absolutely no luck unless I started em outside in December and got peppers by March when it really starts getting dry. I also used big cardboard shadow boxes . turns out we didnt like sweet peppers that much anyway
SOme plants dont really take to artificial watering and I think sweet peppers are one of those.

CHILES, i love chiles. I always have a nice selection from the tomato growers net. They sell really nice disease free seed.

This year Im growing
ACANCAGUAs-very large and sweet bell type that we love best for grilling and in salads

SWEET CAYENNEs-big and sweeeeet

BULGARIAN CARROT pepper--hot and fruity

KUNG PAO hybrid cayenne


PURPLE JALAPENO-- we make a nice pepper and vinegar and sugar fridge chutney that is best with these.

DO you know of any

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Reply Wed 15 Feb, 2012 05:57 am
The "weakened" jalapenos have a neat flavor that you can often miss in the really hot varietals. I tried a heatless jalapeno once and it was pretty good. I think about many peppers on the grill , they must be ripe enough to actually have a flavor. Green peppers are all garbage to me, I would never eat a green pepper of any kind, they must be ripe.

I cannot understand why the Louisiana cooks like using green bell peppers in their dishes, cause, to me, the bitter flavor adds NOTHING to a fine creole dish or jambalaya
Reply Wed 15 Feb, 2012 08:13 am
I'll second that as I see no good use for green bell peppers ...even in my pasta sauce. Add to that the fact that Green peppers seem to give me digestive problems. I was surprised to find that green bell peppers (causing indigestion or upset) is also pretty common even for those who don't have sensitive stomachs.

When I grew my own veggies, I loved growing red peppers - even though it took a really long time to get them to color up ... in the northern MA-So. NH climate. By the time it got color it was past Labor Day and the nights were getting too cool and not even heat or time of sunlight in the day.

I'm going to mess around (researching and making my own) 2 recipes...chicken mole' and also trying to find other savory recipes that mix bitter chocolate with some type of chili.

BTW, on a tangent, are red bell peppers and chili peppers related as a nightshade?

P.S. Thanks you guys for discussing what's going on with chili/chile peppers. This will be reference for me as I start to cook again.
Reply Wed 15 Feb, 2012 09:24 am
the bell peppers and chiles are all part of the solenacea family, which includes tomatoes, potatoes,eggplants and deadly nightshade.
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Reply Wed 15 Feb, 2012 11:23 am
I've been reading that the amount of water given to the pepper plants can affect the "hotness." Too much water and they are very mild, too little water and they are very mild. Get the water just right and their hotness is at their peak.

I'll see if I can find any articles about it.

Also, the sweet peppers I successfully grew were shaded amongst the roma tomatoes so they got some mottled shading from their leaves. They got just as much water as the tomatoes got.

The failed bell peppers were amongst the vining cherry tomatoes and didn't get as much of the little sunlight we got last year as they needed. I also had an unidentified insect invasion in that part of the yard last year that seemed to love the tender pepper plant leaves and left the tomatoes alone. I think they were white flies and am hoping some early spraying of neem before planting will prevent them from hatching out this year.
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Reply Wed 15 Feb, 2012 11:35 am
Here's info on the jalapenos that are being bred for mildness in Texas.


Apparently they've done the same thing with the habanero pepper:

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Reply Wed 15 Feb, 2012 11:41 am
Here's some good info and FAQs on growing peppers from the folks at TAM.


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Reply Wed 15 Feb, 2012 12:12 pm
I'm having a fine time not finding an online source for the company that supplies a lot but not all of the dried chiles to my grocery store, John Brooks Market.

The big name on the package is MEXICO, and the small name on the back is TYLER, INC., Las Vegas, NV, 89121. Huh..
Anyway, one of the packets I bought says chili arbol -

Here's wiki on it, nicely giving what other chiles it can substitute for:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Chile de árbol

Fresh mature chile de árbol peppers
Heat Very hot
Scoville rating 15,000-30,000
The Chile de árbol (Spanish for tree chili) is a small and potent Mexican chili pepper which is also known as bird's beak chile and rat's tail chile. These chilis are about 2 to 3 inches (5.1 to 7.6 cm) long, and 1⁄4 to 3⁄8 inch (0.64 to 0.95 cm) in diameter. Their heat index is between 15,000 and 30,000 Scoville units. The peppers are a bright red color when mature.[1] Chile de árbol peppers can be found fresh, dried, or powdered.[2] As dried chiles, they are often used to decorate wreaths because they do not lose their red color after dehydration.

In cooking substitutions, the Chile de árbol pepper can be traded with Cayenne pepper (15-30,000 Scoville units) or Pequin pepper (30-60,000 Scoville units).[3] The seeds and white arches can be removed from the pepper to tone down its hotness. Care should be taken to avoid touching the eyes after handling this pepper; hands must be washed thoroughly after handling the pepper or its seeds.[4]"

So, it calls it very hot - but in my quick reading, not as hot as a bunch of others. The Trinidad Scorpion, for example, is rated at 1.3 million SHU.

My other package from the above mystery company (in that I can't find it; the package gives a phone number but I'm not going that far..)
is plump with dark purple black dried chiles about five inches long, titled New Mexico Mild Chili Pods. We'll see. I'll try them on my chile adobado recipe, probably with a medium hot powder.

Hmmm, http://www.nmchili.com/ calls Sandia (a new mexican chile) "medium hot"; the nmsu chile institute site calls it "very hot".

aha, here's a moderately handy diagram of Scoville units (SHU) and varieties:


Reply Wed 15 Feb, 2012 12:27 pm
Here's that Carne Adobado recipe -

watch out - I used only 1/5th of the dried red chiles (but what kind did I use, eh? I think some called Medium Hot) - and found the the adobado quite hot but also delicious. Delicious enough to go buy more pork to cook it again.


On Mole, Ragman, I'd been reading about mole off and on for a while -
we had a mole restaurant in LA (forget the name but they made at least a dozen variations of mole). The last I read, cheating even in my reading, was about making mole with the stuff you can buy in a bottle - whatever website I was reading was discussing how to doctor it to make it better than mediocre..

Anyway, you might try looking up food blogs on that, to tune into discussion on different moles.
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Reply Wed 15 Feb, 2012 01:52 pm
Here are some Arbol Chile Salsa recipes from Rick Bayless:

Arbol Chile Salsa

Roasted Tomato-Arbol Chile Salsa

Toasted Arbol Chile Salsa
Reply Wed 15 Feb, 2012 02:16 pm
Looking around for some moles that interested me when I read them -

from the SF Chronicle -

Ancho Almond Mole Sauce: http://www.sfgate.com/food/recipes/detail.html?p=detail&rid=16152&sorig=qs
Ancho is (it seems) a poblano chile that turned red and was dried, becoming sweeter and fruity (according to Jacqueline Higuera McMahan)

Chicken Mole: http://www.sfgate.com/food/recipes/detail.html?p=detail&rid=11235&sorig=qs

This one looks more authentic..
Coloradito (Red Mole from Oaxaca): http://www.sfgate.com/food/recipes/detail.html?p=detail&rid=11259&sorig=qs

Fig Mole with Chicken: http://www.sfgate.com/food/recipes/detail.html?p=detail&rid=17862&sorig=qs (uses 5 kinds of chiles)
Chipotles are smoke dried jalapenos.. (I can get them dried at my market and they also come canned in a chipotle and adobo sauce)

Well, there are 49 mole recipes at the Chronicle.. this was just part of page 1

Some blogs -
- This one looks good, w lots of mole recipes:

- definitely interesting: http://delgrossofoodblog.com/tag/oaxaca/

- I haven't looked at all of this site (there are three moles on it), and it's quite far away from what I think of as mole country, but it's a blog (I call them flogs, keep them separate on my tool bar) I'm going to keep, if only for the photos..
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Reply Wed 15 Feb, 2012 02:19 pm
Mmmmmmmm! especially the one with roasted tomato..
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Reply Wed 15 Feb, 2012 02:56 pm
Generally, if it calls for powdered chile, it's not an authentic Mexican recipe. It's best to use fresh or dried chiles.
Reply Wed 15 Feb, 2012 07:03 pm
What does? the recipe I posted asked for 5 oz dried chiles and 2 tbs powdered.

Ah, I see, she says.. the powdered.
Will listen. Is there no situation where powder is a good thing?

Tell us more..

What can I say, it's possible and probable and likely that something can be too hot to me, and I'm interested in other aspects, like sweet and fruity so said - but I'll have to see re my heat level and if it can change. It could before, but I might be too damned old now.
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