Habanero Chilies: How To Grow, Cook And Eat These Hot Peppers

Habanero peppers are the hottest pepper known to man. Here are some ideas for their use, why they are so hot, and how you can grow them yourself.

The hottest pepper known to man is the habanero chili pepper. With a score of 300,000 on the Scoville unit measuring system, the habanero is only for seriously spicy consumers. The habanero is indigenous to South America the Yucatan and the Caribbean, but is grown all over the world for its spicy charm. It comes in colors ranging from light green to bright orange and has a lantern-like shape. Unlike its cousin, the sweet bell pepper, habanero chili peppers are potentially dangerous when consumed or exposed to skin or orifices like the eyeball. For people who love spice a habanero can add zest to a recipe, for those with more mild taste it is best to leave the habaneros alone.

What makes the habanero chili pepper so darn hot? Contrary to what some people believe the seeds of the chili do not make the pepper hot. The seeds taste hot because they are located near the source of the inferno""the capsaicin located in the ribs of the pepper. Capsaicin clocks in at over sixteen million on the Scoville measuring method. It should never be ingested on its own for this reason. Diluted with other ingredients it is ingestible, as it has proven to increase blood circulation and metabolism.

Habaneros are used in a variety of recipes. They are used mainly for sauces in both its fresh and dried form. Chili recipes often use habaneros as well. Sautéing meats and shellfish with olive oil and habanero is not unusual, nor is the use of the hot pepper to add spice to a baked dish. If you are going for the sweet and spicy taste adding peaches or apricots to a habanero paste can muster up a glorious taste if the right balance is struck. Below you will find two recipes that use this spicy fruit.

The habanero is used in recipes not only because of the taste it adds and the health benefits associated with the capsaicin. After ingesting even small traces of a habanero you will most likely experience slight euphoria due to capsaicin's ability to stimulate the circulatory system. Chilies are also a great source of vitamins A and C and they aid in the digestion process.

If you are interested in trying out a habanero you can find one at your local grocery store or market. If you like what you taste and want more you may consider home-growing your own peppers. The habanero is annual flower, meaning it will fruit for only one year and will need to be replaced. Since peppers belong to the nightshade genus, thus too much sun can be damaging. A good spot for the habaneros is in an area where there is good morning sun. Choose a plant that is healthy and sturdy. When you are ready to transfer the plant to a garden bed choose a spot that has good soil quality with an acidity hovering around a ph of five or six. Plant the peppers roughly one foot apart. Plant hot peppers far away from other edibles to prevent cross-contamination. When you water your plants do not be over-zealous, as swamped roots will produce bitter-tasting peppers. Adding eggshells to the soil increases the calcium content and will stimulate good growth. They will also prevent snails and slugs from crawling all over your prized peppers. Coffee grounds are useful for increasing the nitrogen levels, banana peels will add potassium, and fish parts will add phosphorous. Use these household ingredients to your soil as needed. Habanero peppers are extremely slow to grow, and as a result you may fund yourself frustrated or simply in the aisle of your local produce supplier. Regardless of where you get your habaneros, be careful because these peppers are hot, hot, hot!

Garlic Habanero Shrimp

8 cloves of garlic roughly chopped

1 habanero chile, stem and seeds removed

¼ cup of olive oil

1 tomato, chopped

1 ½ pounds of shrimp

Soak the chilies in hot water for 25 minutes or until they are soft. Saute the garlic and chile in olive oil for 3 mintues. Add the tomatoes and cook for one more mintues. Increase the heat and add the shrimp, cook for 6 minutes, or until the shrimp turns pink. Add the lime juice, simmer for two minutes and serve over rice.

Habanero Hot Sauce

1 cup water

1/3 cup of red wine vinegar

1-3 fresh or dried habanero peppers, depending on how hot you like it.

1 large red bell pepper

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

Chop up the bell and habanero peppers, (or grind the habaneros if using dried). Bring all of the ingredients to a boil, and then simmer for 8-10 minutes. Finally, puree the mixture in a blender. Here are some recipes you can use it in. If you want to try these recipes but don't want the heat, just eliminate the habaneros from the sauce mixture. You will still have a delicious red bell pepper sauce.

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