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Inconsistancy in hot peppers. How do you tell?

I bought some red jalapenos 2 weeks ago they were very hot. Yesterday I bought some more, same store, very mild. Is there anyway to tell consistently for the same variety of pepper when you purchase them?

Sam is a trusted home cook.

asked over 5 years ago
14 answers 1619 views
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added over 5 years ago

nope... there is no way, peppers growing on the same plant can & will have varying degrees of heat. Err on the side of less & work your way up. There is a theory that goes around that you can potentially smell the heat, but the few times I tried it, I ended up with a rather painful tip of the nose that I positively could vouch was glowing on & off like a red traffic light at midnight on a deserted back road!

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added over 5 years ago

Panfusine is 110 percent correct! Peppers from the same field, from the same side of the field and even from the same plant can range from medium-hot to scorching-or totally mild. I've picked up a half-dozen jalapenos from the same bin at Whole Foods and had five of them have the impact of green peppers and the sixth come off like an habanero! (And I would love to have see panfusine's 'rudolph' nose!) What I do, is after I have selected my peppers, is pinch a fingernail into the side and touch it to my tongue to determine the hotness, then divide them accordingly; buying all of them, of course!

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added over 5 years ago

WSmom.. I bet that aforementioned fingernail has given you grief at times! ;-)

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Sam1148

Sam is a trusted home cook.

added over 5 years ago

I wear gloves now when slicing peppers..after forgetting "wash your hands BEFORE" you use the bathroom. Ouch.

This is in the mistakes you make once catagory.

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SKK
added over 5 years ago

Had the privilege of spending a lot of time in Ethiopia, where peppers are key to cuisine. Many times I was either underwhelmed or overwhelmed by the heat. And the underwhelmed was far more comfortable. For my safety and the safety of my guests, when I am using chilie's in the US I first lick and if the taste is too hot take seeds and veins out.

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added over 5 years ago

To make matters worse, in South Africa, most shops don't even tell you what variety of peppers you're getting, so you either hope they have one you recognize, or you take your chances...

In Spain there's a pretty mild pepper called a guindilla that tapas bars toss in the deep fryer and serve with salt. Delicious, but every now and then you get one that;s damn hot!

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Sam1148

Sam is a trusted home cook.

added over 5 years ago

@innoabrd. In Spain there's a pretty mild pepper called a guindilla that tapas bars toss in the deep fryer and serve with salt. Delicious, but every now and then you get one that;s damn hot!.

My favorite tapas is shrimp ajillo. Fantastic.
Shrimp covered in olive oil, garlic slices, and peppers (I use just a couple of dried thai bird peppers or smoked red peppers)...and smokey paprika.
Covered in oil..so it's almost like a confit. And baked in the oven a few mins until the shrimp is done. Served with crusty bread for dipping.
I even purchased some heat proof little tapas dishes just for this.

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added over 5 years ago

@innoaboard: the guindilla idea sounds delish!! deep fried green chillies are often given away as a side with some street foods in India..

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added over 5 years ago

The problem is finding the right, mild pepper. I tried it once in Cairo with a reasonably mild pepper, I thought, and nearly killed my guests...

In the Basque country the peppers are pretty mild because they don't get much sun or heat (and thus the tomatoes aren't any good...). Guindillas are great. mild, nice flavour and an interesting look--long and kind of knobbly.

Panfusine--my favorite South Indian place in London used to serve their thalli with a small chilli that had been fried to a chocolate brown, crunchy goodness. Just on the edge of being burnt to a crisp. I've never been able to duplicate it!

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added over 5 years ago

@innoabrd, the chilli you're referring to is pickled & sundried. The process is as follows, make a vertical slit in the green chillies, add it to diluted yogurt & Salt (I'd say buttermilk, but the commercial ones available in the US have a lot of additives)
they stay soaked for 2 day & are then sun dried. The chillies are then added back to the same brined yogurt overnight & the process is repeated until the yogurt is all absorbed (the uber soured yogurt can be a bit tough on the nose towards the end) & then, the chillies are completely sundried. They get bleached to a beige color. & can be stored for years! I've been able to get them at the indian groceries here in the US. They're referred to as 'more milagai' . You can pair them with the recipe for yogurt rice from Amanda's book.
They just need to be sauteed in oil till they turn brown!

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pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added over 5 years ago

Peppers can definitely be the ball of confusion. It's difficult to correct because you can't taste every single pepper before you put it in a dish. The best you can do is try to adjust the whole thing as you move along. All of the previous answers are correct.

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added over 5 years ago

I can only share a trick I have learned from my dad that reveals the hot ones. Look at the pepper before you do anything to it and if it has these sort of dry lines on the side running horizontally, then you can be sure the pepper is a hot one. They look somewhat like cat scratches on you hand that are a couple of days into healing ( the closest analogy I can come up with right now).

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added over 5 years ago

Thanks, Panfusine! Had always wondered about those! Didn't tend to see much of them in Delhi, but the place I used to go to in south London was pretty Tamil, so starting to make sense to me! Will head off to the Indian grocer again before I leave the US to go back to South Africa and pick up a bag!

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added over 5 years ago

If you're headed towards Kwazulu Natal, Indian groceries in Durban may just have them.. you never know. not sure if Akalwayo (i think thats the name , it was this Indian grocery somewhere in the vicinity of Oriental plaza ) in Jo burg carries it.