Habañero pepper; aroma, flavor, properties … and spicy

Surely, by some entries that we carry behind our backs, we have denoted our taste for spicy food. Among them we include many varieties of chillies and chilies that can make more than one have a very bad time. He makes his masterful entry into Gardenprue the habanero pepper , a little devil is able to embitter the day … or not! :). 

First of all we catch up on the topic of chili peppers and chili peppers. In particular, we are not going to limit them to growing them only in the garden, as we can also do some tricks at home with our pots. Check out our article on  growing chili peppers at home and see for yourself.

This variety, the habanero pepper or capsicum chinense, is very spicy. Not the most, because there are peppers that have more degrees on the Scoville scale ( do you know what it is? ). The scorpion chili ( Trinidad Scorpion Butch T ), for example, far exceeds it, being able to reach 2,000,000 degrees. Shall we make a comparison? Well, at those levels, pepper sprays are already being manufactured. It really seems excessive to put it in the mouth, but to taste the colors.

Don’t worry, the habanero pepper “only” has between 200,000 and 300,000 Scoville units (SHU). 😉

Do you dare to give an account of this succulent chili?

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE HABANERO PEPPER ( CAPSICUM CHINENSE )

Its curious shape reveals what we are going to feel in the mouth later. The habanero pepper goes through several stages of maturation where it progressively changes color. It starts in green, then orange, red, etc. We can also find several varieties of habanero that differ in their heat.

Like the pepper, it belongs to the Solanaceae family  one of our favorite families that fill our refrigerators in summer. Its uses? It can be eaten fresh, made sauces or served in stews and hot dishes.

ORIGIN OF THE HABANERO PEPPER

According to investigations, the habanero pepper comes from the lowlands of the Amazon basin. From there and through farmers and potters who migrated to other lands, it spread to Venezuela, Colombia, Guyana, the Antilles, etc.

However, today Mexico takes the cake in production, with 1,500 annual tons of habanero pepper collected and considered as a benchmark in the culinary culture of the Yucatan.

HABANERO PEPPER CULTIVATION

When it comes to growing it, we will follow the same rules as with other chili peppers. By sharing the same gender, the care will be similar or very similar.

Its seed has a fairly high germination power  , so there will be no problems in germinating after a few weeks. We have done the test and it has worked perfectly. A coconut fiber substrate to provide enough moisture to start and go. We will take care of the fertilizer later, since many commercial substrates already contain a little organic matter, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and some microelements (Fe, Mg, Cu, B, Mo, Zn, etc.).

Habanero pepper variety «chocolate»

LIGHTING AND TEMPERATURE

There is a premise that we will pursue, as we do with the pepper or other hot peppers and chilies, heat and sun . It can withstand direct exposure to sunlight, although it is not the most convenient, since it accelerates ripening and color change. The ideal will be to maintain a more or less constant temperature of about 23-25ºC, although we know that in Spain, summers can give us more powerful maxims than this. Indoors it is easy to maintain this temperature but we must ensure good sun exposure for a good part of the day, and maintain a suitable humidity regime in the soil.

IRRIGATION

The temperatures are high in summer and the hydric needs also. We will keep the substrate moist and facilitate the absorption of nutrients and water by the roots. It is advisable not to leave standing water to avoid rotting and the appearance of fungi. Regarding the quality of water, we can irrigate with the tap if we periodically make generous irrigations to displace the salts accumulated in the substrate.

Also noteworthy is the sensitivity to excess water that the Capsicum genus has . Careful with that. Sometimes it is better to fall short than to go too far … In any case, the cultivation of habanero pepper in Mexico is centered in the Yucatan area, with a practically tropical climate so humidity is necessary. It is a plant that perspires a lot with heat and we have to give it the necessary coolant with water.

If we have grown indoors, it is convenient to control the growth, so as not to have a small jungle at home. 😉 You can follow the advice in our article on pepper pruning.

LET’S TALK ABOUT ITS FLAVOR AND AROMAS

Globally, the jalapeño is perhaps better known than the Habanero pepper. The spiciness levels of each of them have nothing to do with it, as we will see later according to the Scoville scale. El Habanero is one more step in the adventure of spicy gastronomy. But it’s not just that. It is its truly aromatic flavor that ends up falling in love with the most exquisite and resistant palates. If you can get used to the level of spiciness of this pepper, the flavor and aromas it gives off are hardly comparable to any other chili. Freshness and even sweetness with slightly acid touches are the first thing one experiences when trying it (and before the capsaicin kicks in just a second or two later). The aromas are citrus, apple and even ginger, nothing to do with other chili peppers such as smoked chipotle or pickled jalapeño where smoke or vinegar are present. The habanero is juicier and the sauces made with it are usually very fresh. There are habanero sauces with mango and they are really delicious.

 

PROPERTIES OF THE HABANERO PEPPER

Actually these properties are not attributed only to this variety but to all hot peppers. The main culprit is the capsaicin molecule that makes spicy lovers so much enjoyment and sweat. Well, except for the stomach, capsaicin has proven beneficial effects on the body.

In 2017, a study by the University of Vermont on this compound showed evidence that it lengthens people’s lives. Thus said it may sound fanciful and even false, but given the scientific rigor both in sampling and in follow-up time, it is sufficient endorsement, at least, to take the study seriously and continue investigating about it. This study also corroborates another study carried out in 2015 in China, another country with a very spicy gastronomic culture.

There is a lot of scientific and popular bibliography on the benefits of spicy, but this study strongly attracted our attention since both the population sample (number of individuals participating in the study) and the follow-up time of each one is of sufficient statistical significance as to ratify the results. The data were obtained from a database of more than 16,000 patients from an American survey of the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey) who were followed for 23 years. They examined the metabolic characteristics of the participants and their consumption of hot peppers. After analyzing the data, it was observed that the groups of people who consumed this food had a greater life expectancy than the rest, reducing mortality by 13%,

The authors themselves comment that: «Although the mechanism by which peppers could delay mortality is far from being categorically demonstrated, the Transient Receptor Potential (PRT) channels, which are the primary receptors for spicy agents such as capsaicin (the main component in hot peppers), could be partly responsible for the observed relationship.

Capsaicin plays an important role in the molecular mechanisms to prevent obesity and modulates coronary blood flow. It has antimicrobial properties that can alter the consumer’s intestinal microbiota.

[alert style=»red»] Pincha en el siguiente link para acceder al artículo científico titulado: Consumption of hot red chili peppers is associated with a 13 percent reduction in total mortality, a large prospective study has found[/alert]

If you have not tried it, it is still time for you to consider it. And try to cultivate it! We are going to start salivating with an extremely simple recipe with tomato, garlic, salt and the aromatic, tasty and spicy habanero pepper.

HABANERO CHILI RECIPES

Let’s make a habanero sauce! It is useless to collect the fruits of this nightshade if we then do nothing with them. As a tip you can use one or two fruits to collect seeds, for the next season. If you are at home and the temperature is good, you can grow them practically all year round. Put on gloves to catch the seeds!

What do we need?

  • Habanero peppers
  • Tomato
  • Garlic cloves
  • Salt to taste

THE SCOVILLE SCALE OF HABANERO PEPPERS

Habanero Chichen Itza: 150.000-200.000

Habanero Caribbean Red: 150.000-400.000

Habanero Black Congo: 100.000-450.000

Habanero Peruvian White: 150.000-300.000

Habanero Big Sun: 150.000-350.000

Habanero Peach: 150.000-300.000

Habanero Orange: 150.000-325.000

Habanero Congo Yellow: 150.000-325.000

Habanero White Bullet: 150.000-350.000

Yellow Habanero:  200,000-300,000

Habanero Cappuccino: 200.000-350.000

Habanero Long Chocolate: 250.000-350.000

Habanero Branca:  150,000-500,000

Habanero Congo Red:  300,000-400,000

Habanero Antillais Caribbean:  300,000-400,000

Habanero Red Savina: 350.000-550.000

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