A Mix of 50 Interesting Facts, Types & Recipes Using Hot Peppers (Chiles)

1. First thing, a confession!! I am a Chilehead!! Love the hot peppers…the hotter, the better. I grow my own and some extremely hot ones!! Mild, well mild is for soaps!
2. “Bird Peppers” is a general term used to refer to “wild” peppers grown from seed deposited in bird droppings after the birds have eaten the peppers. Yes, there are some species of birds that are Chileheads too!
3. “Chinese Species” such as the orange habanero, are most often generally referred to as “habanero”. This is a misnomer because there are hundreds of varieties.
4. The name habanero refers to a specific pod type from the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.
5. The Amazon Basin was the center of origin of the chinese species. The oldest known chinese ever found was the 6,500-year-old pod, found intact in Guitarrero Cave in Peru.
6. Chiltepin

Species: Capsicum annuum
Heat: 50,000-100,000 Scoville Units
Origin/Grown in: Southern USA to northern South America

Wild, miniature, round-shaped pods that have a striking heat that disappears quickly. The dried pods make a tasty seasoning for beans, soups and stews.
7. Grilled Skirt Steak with Grilled Bananas Steak and bananas, what a treat!

Yields: 4 servings
Heat Factor: Hot

Ingredients :

  • 4 ripe bananas, unpeeled
  • ¼ cup canned chipotles in adobo, mashed or chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. toasted cumin seeds
  • ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup peanut or vegetable oil
  • 2-12/ pounds skirt steak
  • salt & pepper

Preheat grill to high. Place the bananas around the edge of the grill to slowly roast as you prepare the rest of the dish. They are done when the skin is brown and they are soft to the touch, which should take 12 to 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the chipotles, garlic, cumin, cilantro, lime juice and oil, and mix well. Season the steak with salt and pepper, rub generously with the rub and grill over a hot fire for 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium rare.
8. The medicinal properties for chiles have been known for thousands of years. Only recently have scientists really been studying the effects of eating hot peppers on the body. Remember? Milk does a body good…Now the new phrase is “Chiles do a body GREAT!”
9. Chiles speed up your metabolism – weight loss
10. Get high on chiles – releases endorphins
11. Chiles are pain suppressors – endorphins the natural pain blockers
12. Chiles add flavor to food – No more bland diets
13. Chiles are high in vitamins A & C
14. Chiles increase blood flow
15. Chiles aid in digestion – good for stomach/intestinal problems
16. Great supplement to any diet – will help you lose weight
17. New findings are linking chiles to cancer prevention in women
18. If you’re new to the chile scene, start out slowly and with milder peppers. Gradually increase the heat level, you will gain some tolerance to the heat after time. Don’t go pepper wild!
19. Orphie G’s Homemade Spicy Vegetable Beef Soup

Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Heat Factor: Hot

Ingredients :

  • 1 to 1-1/2 pounds ground chuck, browned, drained and rinsed
  • 1 to 1-1/2 pounds stew beef, browned, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1 medium to large onion, diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 (8 ounce) can sweet corn, drained
  • 1 (8 ounce) can green beans, drained
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 (16 ounce) bag of frozen gumbo vegetables
  • 3 beef bouillon cubes, dissolved in 1 cup of water
  • 2 Tbsp. jalapeno pepper juice (use the juice from a jar of pickled jalapenos)
  • 1 habanero pepper, diced (may be seeded) (optional if you can’t handle the heat!!)
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1 to 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan (3 to 5 quart). Add enough water to cover all ingredients. Cover pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat and simmer on low for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Remove bay leaves and serve immediately with crackers or cornbread. I prefer the Mexican Cornbread and crumble some in my bowl of soup. You can find the recipe for Mexican Cornbread below.

If there are any leftovers, place in a plastic container with tight fitting lid and freeze. It’s sometimes better the second time around!
20. Scotch Bonnet

Species: Capsicum chinese
Heat: 10,000 – 500,000 Scoville Units
Origin/Grown In: Jamaica and other Caribbean Islands

Though often confused with the lantern-shaped habanero, the scotch bonnet is typically smaller and shaped more like a flattened beret. Very hot and it’s fruity flavor make the scotch bonnet perfect for Caribbean sauces and curry
21. Serrano

Species: Capsicum annuum
Heat: 5,000 to 15,000 Scoville Units
Origin/Grown In: Mexico and southwest USA

With it clean, biting heat and high acidity, the serrano is popular as an addition to salsas and sauces. The cylindrical, tapered pepper can either be bright red or dark green. When allowed to ripen to red, the serrano is slightly more sweet.
22. Cherry Pepper

Species: Capsicum annuum
Heat: 0 – 3,500 Scoville Units
Origin/Grown In: USA.

The cherry pepper’s red spherical pods resemble giant cherries. The typically mild peppers have been cultivated since pre-Columbian times and are now commonly grown as ornamentals or are pickled for stuffing or added a kick to sandwiches.
23. Mexican Cornbread

Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Heat: Medium to hot


  • 1 Box “Jiffy” Corn Muffin Mix
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 3 jalapenos, diced, stemmed and seeded
  • 1/2 small red pepper, diced

Prepare the Jiffy mix per package instructions adding the extra ingredients with the rest of the wet ingredients.
Bake per package instructions.

New Mexican style:
Substitute 1 small can of diced green chiles (3 to 4.5 oz) for the jalapenos and follow the rest of the instructions above.

Hint: You can adjust this recipe by increasing or decreasing the amount of jalapenos, chili powder and/or green chiles to your taste. The red pepper is mostly for color. Or for a hotter cornbread, substitute habaneros for the jalapenos.
24. Tabasco Pepper

Species: Capsicum frutescens
Heat: 30,000 – 50,000 Scoville Units
Origin/Grown In: Mexico, USA.

Named after the Tabasco territory in Mexico, the Tabasco pepper has been the subject of various trademark litigations. The Tabasco pepper has been cultivated in Louisiana since 1848, where it is made into Edmund McIhenny’s Tabasco Sauce.
25. Pimento

Species: Capsicum annuum
Heat: 0 Scoville Units
Origin/Grown In: Hungary, Spain

Best known as an olive stuffer, the pimiento is short, wide and almost heart-shaped. This mild pepper is also dried, ground and sold as domestic paprika in the United States
26. Jalapeno

Species: Capsicum annuum
Heat: 3,000 – 5,000 Scoville Units
Origin/Grown In: Mexico, USA.

Plump, conical jalapeno pods are ubiquitous in the United States, commonly found in salsas, piled onto nachos and on sandwiches. Smoked-dried jalapenos are known as Chipotles.
27. Cool Green Sauce

Quck and easy to make
A chile-lover and co-worker of my husband made this sauce, well his girlfriend made it, from some chiles I gave him from my garden. This stuff is awesome. I love it. I got the recipe from him. Try it and let me know how you like it!

The recipes calls for jalapenos, but any chiles may be used to satisfy your particular heat level!

Yields: about 3/4 cup
Heat Factor: Medium to hot


  • 1 egg, boiled
  • 3 pieces of garlic
  • 5 jalapenos, stemmed (and seeded, if you must!)
  • 1/2 cup of water (less for a thicker sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp. lime juice
  • 3 drops of olive oil (optional)
  • sea salt to taste

Drop all ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. Season with sea salt to taste. Serve with tortilla chips or spoon onto your favorite meat dish. I find it has more flavor if you let it chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. It lets the flavors blend a bit more.
28. Tropical Fruit Salsa

This is a great salsa recipe filled with tropical fruit flavor with just the right amount of heat. Try is on lettuce for a side salad.

Yields: 2 cups
Heat Factor: Medium

Dice all the fruits and vegetables into 1/4 inch cubes.


  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tsp. onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. mango, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. papaya, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. cayenne
  • 4 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

In a saute pan over medium heat, warm the oil and lightly sweat the bell peppers and onion. Remove from heat. When cool, add mango, papaya, cayenne, vinegar, honey and mint. Stir to combine well. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.
29. Annuum means annual, but it is incorrect when designated for peppers. Peppers are actually perennials and not annuals as most people think. Even those who live in colder climates can grow chiles year round. You just have to bring them indoors and keep in a well lit area or use grow lights. The production rate will slow, but you still may get a few pods to keep you warm on those chilly nights!
30. Peppers aren’t cold hardy, but can tolerate temperatures to about 45 degrees for a short period of time.
31. Salsa is more than just a spicy condiment. New research suggests it may also offer protection against Salmonella, the common food borne pathogen that can cause severe sickness and even death.
32. Capsaicin is the chemical in peppers that make them hot. It found in the placenta or the veins of chiles.
33. India is said to be the largest production grower of chiles, the US is ranked 8th.
34. Chiles are of the nightshade family, Solanaceae, and are closely related to tomatoes, potatoes, tobacco and eggplants.
35. There are 5 domesticated species of Capsicum: annuum, baccatum, pubescens, chinese, and frutescens
36. Mexican Brownies

Yields: 9 servings
Heat Factor: Medium


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces, plus extra for the pan
  • 5 ouces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sliced, unsalted almonds
  • 2 tsp. ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 inch square baking pan. Line the bottom and 2 sides of the pan with an 18-inch long strip on aluminum foil, folding the foil lengthwise to fit the pan. Leave the foil hanging over the sides to create handles. Butter the foil, dust with flour and tap out the excess flour.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in the chocolate. Allow mixture to stand until the chocolate melts, then whisk until very smooth. Whisk in the brown sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Set aside.

In a food processor, combine the flour and almonds and pulse until almonds are ground to a powder. Add the chile powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and pulse to combine. Scrape into the baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Place in the over and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the brownie comes out with a moist crumb, about 30 minutes.

Place the pan on a wire rack and cool completely. Run a knife along side the inside of the pan and lift up on the foil to remove the brownie from the pan. Cut and serve.
37. Bhut Jolokia, Capsicum chinese is now said to be the hottest pepper in the world. I will second that!! It is the hottest pepper I have ever eaten.
38. Chiles are usually at the hottest level when dried
39. Chiles have long been used to ward off evil spirits in folklore and mythology
40. Chiles are also used as part of spells to make people ill, or even kill them
41. Capsaicin is an ingredient in Denorex dandruff shampoo and other beauty products
42. Basic Homemade Hot Sauce

Prep time about 20 minutes…Wait time 6-8 weeks (forever!)
This is a general suggestion on making your own hot sauce. All ingredients can be changed by you. Add more of this, less of that, etc. The possibilities are endless. I think it’s more fun to experiment anyway. Same is true with making your own salsa. I’ve added the basics to how I start below. Now get creative!

The first 2 ingredients are pretty much necessary, as it keeps the germs out and preserves it without harmful chemicals! Preferred containers are pint or quart mason jars, but you can use any jar with a tight fitting lid.

Brine Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vinegar (wine, sherry, apple, white your choice)
  • 2-5 Tbsps. Rock salt
  • Chiles (a lot) again your choice – you can mix different varieties or use one type, sliced (may be seeded)

Mix the vinegar and salt together and add to jar. Add sliced chiles, close lid tightly and shake lightly to mix. Place in a cool, dark area for a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks, longer will not matter. Remember to mark your calendar!

After the grueling wait is over, pour contents of jar into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. You may want to open a window, the fumes can be strong! Remove from heat and let cool.

Now comes the creative part where you can add whatever additional ingredients you want to add flavor. Just stir the ingredients together for pouring onto food or adding to soups, etc., or put in a blender for a finer textured sauce.

You can add all or any combination of the following:

  • Tomatoes
  • Fruit (nectarines, pineapple, plums, mango, papaya, grapes, citrus, etc.)
  • Carrots, celery, onions
  • More peppers, hot or mild
  • Cilantro, parsley or other herbs
  • Tomato sauce/paste, catsup, mustard
  • Lemon or lime juice
  • Get the drift?

Once you’ve made your award winning sauce, bottle it up into clean, empty sauce bottles or whatever you have available and refrigerate. It will keep for a very long time.
43. Chiles have been used for ages for medicinal cures and treatments
44. Red chiles have been know to cure hemorrhoids!
45. Chiles are very low in calories, about 37 per100 grams (about 3-1/2 ounces)
46.The links below are some I have posted at another site…I also generate some traffic to my work here through a “lens” I have there with links back to RB.
47. For more main dish recipes click here
48. For more dessert recipes click here
49. For more salsa/sauce recipes click here

A Mix of 50 Interesting Facts, Types & Recipes Using Hot Peppers (Chiles)

Donna Adamski

Joined August 2008

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Featured in 50 Things – 4/24/09

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