Types Of Peppers

Today's markets feature a vast variety of peppers from sweet to fiery hot. This is an overview of the types of peppers, their pungency ratings and their uses.

All peppers are of the genus Capsicum and there are so many types it's impossible to find a complete list of the many varieties. Part of the problem lies in the "common" names because often there are many names attributed to a single pepper. As our tastes become more cosmopolitan, additional varieties appear each day in the produce sections of our chain grocery stores. Even more varieties can be found in fresh markets, farmers' markets and specialty shops.

Most often peppers are purchased fresh but they can also be obtained dry, canned, pickled and powdered. The pungency of peppers range from the very mild varieties of bell peppers to the very hot-to-fiery peppers such as Thai, Habanero, Jalapeño, Tabasco or Serrano. There's also a great range of colors: light, medium and dark greens; pale to bright yellows; gold; orange; bright to deep reds; purple; medium to very dark browns.

Peppers can be good for your health. Eaten raw, they have few calories and are usually a "free" food on food plans and diets. They're also high in Vitamin C. A green bell pepper has more of this necessary vitamin than citrus fruit of equal weight; a red pepper triples that. The hot varieties are even higher in Vitamin C. Perhaps there's a correlation between that fact and that chile peppers have been used for centuries as a "cure" for the common cold.

Although hot peppers may give some folks indigestion, there's no link between their consumption and stomach ulcers. It's also possible they act as an anticoagulant or blood thinner thus aiding in the fight against heart attacks or strokes. A topical cream that contains capsicum can also help to control some types of chronic skin pain.

Asia is the largest producer of peppers and next to salt, chilies are the world's most popular seasoning.

Listed below are popular peppers with their pungency ratings and their more common uses.

Pepper name Pungency Uses

Aji Very hot to fiery Condiment, salsa, sauce

Anaheim Mild to very hot Soup, stew, rellenos

Ancho/Poblano Mild to fairly hot Beans, soup, stews; ground in moles

Bell Sweet to mild Salad, casseroles, stuffed, stir-fry

Banana/Hungarian Mild to hot Salsa, sauce, pickled

Cascabel Medium hot to hot Soup, stew, sauce, sausage

Cayenne Hot to fiery Soup, stew, sauce

Cherry Medium to very hot Pickled, relish, jelly

De Arbol Very hot Soup, stew, beans

Fresno Slightly hot to very hot Pickled, salsa

Habanero Fiery to incendiary Fresh with lime juice

Jalapeño Very hot to fiery Salsa, sauce, beans, escabeche

Pasilla, Chile Negro Mild to fairly hot Sauce, soup, stew; dried in moles

Pepperoncini Mild/sweet to fairly hot Salads, stew, sandwiches

Piquin/Tepin Very hot to fiery Soup, stew, beans; dried as flakes

Rocotillo Mild to fairly hot Condiment, salsa, sautéed vegetable

Serrano Very hot to fiery Beans, soup, sauce, salsa

Tabasco Very hot to fiery Pepper sauce; pack in vinegar

Thai Very hot to fiery Soup, sauce, stew, stir-fry

How, or which, you choose to use, enjoy the pepper""it's fat free and tasty.

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