by Teri Pizza


Indeed, many like it hot…so just how hot do you want it? The Scoville Heat Scale (SHU) clues us in to the hotness levels of chiles, a spicy surprise of many names, shapes and sizes. From mildly to wildly hot, select anywhere from Pablano (Ancho) 1000-2000; Hatch 1000-5000, Jalapeño 2500-8000, Serrano 6000-23,000, Manzano 12,000-30,000, Chile de Arbol 15,000-30,000, or Habanero 100,000-300,000 blazing hot units.


Wimpy when it comes to hot peppers? Stick to sweet bell peppers in red, yellow, orange or green – all of which score very low on the SHU scale.


Cooking for a crowd? Two large bell peppers will yield about 2 1/2 cups of sliced peppers. Oh, and an old veggie myth claims those with 3 bumps on the bottom are much sweeter…and best in salads, while the others are firmer and better for cooking.

Whichever “heat” you choose, you’ll want to select firm, blemish-free and wrinkle-free peppers. A grapefruit spoon is the perfect tool for removing stems, seeds and membranes, and you’ll definitely want to use prep gloves when working with these bursts of hotness! Be especially mindful of the point where the seed is attached to the white membrane – that portion has the hottest concentration of capsaicin – the hot stuff in a pepper.


Besides all that flavor, peppers have plenty of great, healthy benefits. In fact, bell peppers have more vitamin C than oranges – as well as plenty of other essential minerals like iron, copper, zinc, potassium, manganese, magnesium and selenium. Hot peppers also have a special secret for those looking to shed a few pounds…many varieties have been known to boost the metabolism by as much as 15%. The heat Jalapeños give off can also help clear a stuffy nose, warm the body, promote good digestion, act as a mild diuretic to remove toxins, and treat many respiratory ailments. Plus, capsaicin has powerful medicinal properties to help ease the pain associated with shingles and arthritis. Research also seems to indicate that capsaicin might even help in blocking the development of cancer and assist in lowering blood pressure. So go ahead, eat those too-hot-to-touch hot peppers grown easily in Florida’s summer and enjoy the hot days of August!

Teri Pizza highlights 70 varieties of produce in her books, Simplicity of Fresh Produce, and ENJOY! Recipes for Fresh Produce both available at Teri resides in Ocala, FL & Gatlinburg, TN.


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