A chili by any other name...
CHILE is the Spanish name given to the pungent pod of any of several species of capsicum (in the nightshade family). The word has survived in Spanish because many varieties of the pods come from Mexico. CHILI is the Nahuatl name given to what we now call "chili peppers" by the Aztec Indians whom we credit with cultivating them. We take the ancient name for THE BIG CHILI in our efforts to recall ancient cooking traditions and create some of our own.
Variety, nutrition and yummy possibilities!
There is tremendous variety among the pungent
chili pepper pods, and endless ways to mix them with
other ingredients for an extraordinary array of
delectable dishes. Bright, hot, berry-sized wild
chiltepin peppers from Mexico. Meaty sandia and
anaheim green pepper varieties. Tangy, succulent
red chili pods from the Chimayo Valley in northern
New Mexico. Dark red and black, rich, flavorful
ancho and pasilla chili peppers. It is our aim to
demonstrate many ways to cook with chili peppers.
Besides the delicious possibilities for preparing
meals with chili, they are also a good source of
nutrition. The pungent pods are vitamin rich.
There are many ways to enhance the flavor of food -
why not with healthy ingredients!
The pungency of chili peppers is measured in Scoville Units. The system was developed by chemist Wilbur Scoville in 1912 and assigns a heat value to chili peppers based on how much sugar-water needs to be added to them to dilute their pungency. The Scoville Units scale ranges from bell peppers at 0 units to red savina habanero peppers from Mexico which come in at 577,000 units. According to BBC NEWS another hotter pepper has been found in north-eastern India called the naga jolakia chili, measuring a whopping 855,000 Scoville Units! Some have criticized this measuring system, preferring instead the more precise method of extracting the heat-prducing chemicals or "capsaicinoids" from the chili peppers and measuring them. Whether or not you're interested in pepper chemistry, you'll likely want to know how hot a particular variety of chili pepper is, and the widely used measure of pungency is Scoville Units.
PREPARING TO COOK WITH CHILIES
Handle with care.
Cooking with chili peppers can require some special considerations. First, when handling hot chilies wearing rubber gloves is a good idea, and being careful not to touch the skin, face, and eyes is essential. Stinging skin can be soothed with a capful of bleach in a basin of water, or by dousing the irritation in vegetable oil. The hottest part of the chili pepper is its veins and seeds. Removing them makes the pepper milder.
HOW CHILIES ARE SOLD AND PREPARED
Fresh chilies can be washed, deveined, and seeded. Roasting chilies blisters the skin from the pepper flesh. Roasted green chilies are often peeled and frozen, or frozen, thawed, and peeled. Dried chilies can be powdered, thickly ground (chili caribe), blended in water, or reconstituted in water and added to ingredients in their savory plumpness. Picked, jarred, and bottled chili ingredients can enhance almost any meal!
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