Peppers are varied colored spices cum vegetables, which belong to the family Solanaceae. Whether you refer to the sweet bell pepper or the hottest pepper in the world, they are categorized under the same genus Capsicum. After salt, peppers are the second leading seasoning ingredients in the world. You will find them holding a specific place in every traditional cuisine. Based on the heat intensity, peppers are differentiated into sweet, mildly hot, or hot types. Also, different types of hot peppers are identified with reference to their spiciness, which we will discuss in this article.
Except for the cherry peppers and bell peppers, the other pepper varieties share one thing in common, i.e. increased hotness, which is because of the presence of chemicals called capsaicinoids. The spiciness is measured by means of the Scoville Heat Index, developed by Wilbur Scoville, an American chemist in 1912. The scale ranges from zero at the bottom to about 1,000,000 at the top. The sweet types of peppers fall in the range of 0-500 and occupy the bottom of the scale.
Popularly used by the Americans, jalapeno peppers are 2-3 inch long, green in the immature stage and turn red at maturity. You will find this pepper variety included in both mildly hot and hot pepper types. The heat unit of this pepper varies from 2000-8000, based on the growing condition, harvesting stage, and mode of preparation.
Similar to the jalapeno peppers in appearance, the serrano peppers are much hotter than the jalapeno types. They are green in the unripe stage, which then turn to yellow, orange, brown, or red in the ripened stage. Serrano peppers have a heat rating of about 10,000-25,000 and are mostly eaten raw, or in mixed condiment style.
The Scoville rating for this pepper chili is 60,000, which is about 10 times that of jalapeno peppers. It measures 1¼ inches in diameter and 6 inches in length. Eaten raw or dried form, or added in sauces, salads, and pickles, the health benefits of cayenne pepper are highly appreciated in medical science.
Chili de Arbol Pepper
Popularly used in Mexican cooking, chili de arbol is a bright red colored, slender and long (about 2-3 inches in length) hot pepper species. This chili pepper is rated 50,000-65,000 on the Scoville heat scale and used in sauce, salsa, stir fry, and many other recipes. You will find chili de arbol in fresh, dried, or powder form in the grocery stores.
Scotch Bonnet Pepper
Scotch bonnet peppers occupy the first top positions in the Scoville heat scale. Their spiciness value falls within 100,000-350,000. Scotch bonnet peppers are similar to the habanero pepper cultivars, except that they are a bit smaller is size and earthy in flavor. The green immature peppers mature to orange or scarlet red peppers. They are used in cooking meat, hot sauces, and other recipes that call for hot peppers.
Included in the top list of hot peppers, the spice intensity of habanero pepper is evident from its heat rating, which falls between 325,000-570,000. Green habanero peppers are unripe ones, while the red indicates ripe stage. It measures about 0.8-2.4 in length and is commonly added in spicy food recipes and sauces. Habanero pepper is mistakenly considered as the hottest pepper species in the world.
You cannot determine the spiciness of the particular species from its external appearance. It is the placenta present inside the fruits, where the capsaicinoids are concentrated in large amounts that make it hot. So, learning how to reduce the heat of hot peppers lies in removing the placenta, while adding the peppers in food preparation.