Bring The Heat - Chillies 101

First published 5th Jul, 2023

There are so many websites and articles that wax lyrical about what seems like hundreds of different types of chilli with exotic names but let’s just bring that down a notch or two and talk about those that are commonly found in a supermarket. And let’s just call them red chillies and green chillies.

Until we started TasteBox and delved into hundreds of recipes from all parts of the world, we actually had no idea how to treat these beasts. We only knew that their flavour imparts something special to a dish. 

So let’s get into the questions we had and the answers we found.

Do you have to like very hot stuff to enjoy adding chillies to your culinary repertoire?

Absolutely not. A teeny tiny bit of chilli will really pop the flavour of a dish without making it too hot at all. No galvanised throats required.

Are chillies good for us?

Yes they are, in small amounts. They are full of vitamin C and other antioxidants. In large amounts they may cause gastric distress so don’t overdo things.

What is the difference between the green ones and the red ones?

The green chillies are just the immature version of the red ones. The red ones have stayed on the plant longer and contain more capsaicin, the compound that some say is an appetite suppressant and a pain reliever for things like arthritis.

Do you have to deseed the peppers and take out the white membranes?

It depends how hot you want your dish to be. Most of the heat is to be found in the seeds but it is a very finicky job to take them out. We find it best to reduce the amount of chillies but to leave the seeds in. Unless you really like it very hot, one chilli topped and tailed and finely chopped is enough in a dish cooked for four people. A herb chopper is great for the chopping. Just wash your hands immediately after working with the chilli in case you touch your eyes - that is a burn you don’t want!

Are chillies easy to grow?

Yes they are - the easiest way is to buy yourself a plant or two at the nursery, but you can definitely grow them from seed. The plants like lots of light and heat and not too much water so the soil should drain well. They are also happy in containers and very decorative, so not to be confined to the veggie garden! If you need to make a choice at the nursery ask for Cayenne or Serrano.  Jalapeño is very nice, only hotter.

How do I store chilli peppers if I have too many?

The best way is to wash them, dry them and pop them into zip lock bags in the freezer. They retain their flavour beautifully.

So there we have it - Chillies 101! Try your hand at growing them or just buy a few at the shop and experiment in the kitchen - your taste buds will thank you!


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