Chilies have a reputation for being hot and pungent, but many chilies have a sweet, more delicate flavor.The fruits are used to flavor products from sauces to chocolate and jellies. Chili pods come in different sizes, flavors and shapes, some are green and others are purple, yellow or red. Chilies are used in many cuisines in dishes, such as paprikash from Hungry and puttanesca sauce from Italy. Ground chili is used to make chili power, cayenne powder and paprika.
What Are Chili Peppers?
The fruit from Capsicum spp. (Solanaceae) belongs to the same family as tomatoes and potatoes, and they are called chili, chili peppers or chile. The name peppers was used by Christopher Columbus who mistook the plant and thought it produced black pepper. There are about 25 species of chilies and botanically, chili is a fruit but it is marketed as a vegetable.
The chili pods are the fruits of the chili pepper. The seeds inside the pods are hot as are the white membranes. Removing these reduces the heat of the chili pods. The pods are used fresh or dried and they can also be preserved by pickling fresh chilies. The dried pods can be ground to powders. The pods can also be dried by using smoke. Chipotle is the smoked form of the the jalapeno chili pod . Anchos, paprika and anaheims are generally mild, while cayenne, jalapeno and chipotle are usually hot.
The vitamin content varies depending on the color and type of chili. Red chilies contain high amounts of vitamin C and carotene. The yellow and green chilies are the unripe fruits and they contain lower amounts of vitamin C and carotene. Chilies are good sources of vitamin B and they are also high in potassium, iron and magnesium. The uptake of iron in beans is increased by the high vitamin C content in chili.
Preparation and Storage
Drinking milk after eating chilies eases any burning sensation. The heat in the chilies comes from an oil called capsaicin which is found mostly in the skin, seeds and the white membrane. Capsaicin acts on nerves found on the tongue and skin. Wearing gloves diminishes the stinging sensation when preparing chilies. Avoid touching your eyes even if you have used gloves. Adding tomatoes and fresh lime or lemons to chili helps reduces the alkalinity in capsaicin. Choose fresh or dried pods that have a shiny skin with no marks or soft spots. Chili pods are wrinkled when they are dried. Store chili pods in a paper bag in the refrigerator for up to one week. The flavor develops during cooking and only small doses of chili pods may be required.