Unripe Habaneros are green, and they colour as they mature. Common colours are orange and red, but white, brown, and pink are also seen.
Habanero chilies are very HOT, rated between 100,000500,000 on the Scoville Scale.
The Habanero chilli originated in the Amazon region, and from there it has spread right around the world although the principal place of production and use is Mexico.
They have been used for millenia. One domesticated Habanero, which was dated at 8,500 years old, was found at an archaeological dig in Peru. An intact fruit of a small domesticated Habanero, found in pre-ceramic levels in the Guiyarrero Cave in the Peruvian highlands, was dated to 6500 BC.
Today, the largest producer is Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Habaneros are an integral part of Yucatecan food. Habanero chillies accompany most dishes in Yucatan, either in solid or purée/salsa form.
Because of their popularity and ease of growth in the right climate and soil conditions, other modern production centers include Belize, Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica, Equador, Parts of the USA but Mexico is stoll the largest producer.
The Scotch Bonnet is often compared to the Habanero, since they are two varieties of the same species, but have a different appearance. Both the Scotch Bonnet and the Habanero have thin, waxy flesh. They have a similar heat level and flavour. Although both varieties average around the same level of “heat”, the actual degree of piquancy varies greatly from one fruit to another with genetics, growing methods, climate, and plant stress.
The Habanero’s heat, its fruity, citrus-like flavour, and its floral aroma have made it a popular ingredient in hot sauces and spicy foods.
Chillies, come in all shapes, sizes and colours ranging from tiny pointed extremely hot, birds eye chilli to the large mild fleshy peppers like the anaheim. Indigenous to Central and South America and the West Indies. They have been cultivated there for thousands of years before the Spanish conquest, which eventually introduced them to the rest of the world.Not all dry and store well so the range available is smaller for the dried product than the fresh.
Mexican cooking is one of the worlds oldest cuisines, the explorers of the New World brought back tomatoes and peppers, red hot chillies, avocados, various beans, vanilla and chocolate, these flavours were to change the flavours of Europe.
Today there are probably 400 different chillies grown, and they are one of the most widely cultivated crops now grown from the Far East, China, Japan, Thailand and Indonesia to India to Mexico.
Some of the more commonly available fresh chillies include jalapeño, serrano, poblano, yellow wax, birds eye, habarnero and cayenne.
In 1902 Wibur Scoville developed a method for measuring the strength of capsaicin in a given pepper, which originally meant tasting a diluted version of a pepper and giving it a value. Nowadays it can be done more accurately with the help of computers to rate the peppers in Scoville units, which indicate parts per million of capsaicin.
The fiery sensation of chillies is caused by capsaicin, a potent chemical that survives both cooking and freezing, but apart from the burning sensation it also triggers the brain to produce endorphins, natural painkillers that promote a sense of well being.
The Scoville scale begins at zero with mild bell peppers and moves to the lower range of peppers measuring 1,500 to 2,500 such as cascabels, four out of ten. The Jalapeño is mid range at about 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units. The eight out of ten chillies such as cayenne, aji and pequin will rate about 30,000 to 50,00 units, while the Habernero which rates as one of the hottest comes somewhere between 100,00 and 500,000 units. There are hotter chillies – The Naga for instance!