Varieties of Chilies


Some people apparently became so addicted to the taste of hot food that they carry little jars of chopped dried chilies around with them and scatter them over every meal. Although this is a bit extreme, it is chilies more than any other ingredient that spice up our mealtimes.


Chilies are the most important seasoning in the world after salt. Unlike peppers, to which they are closely related, the different varieties of chili can have widely different heat value - from the "just about bearable" to the "knock your head off" variety.

Anaheim Chili : A long, thin chili with a blunt end, named after the Californian city. It can be red or green and has a mild, sweet taste.

Ancho Chili / Pepper : These look like tiny peppers. They are mild enough to taste their underlying sweetness.

Birdeye or Bird Chili : These small red chilies are fiery hot. Also known as pequin chilies.

Cayenne Pepper : This is made from the dried, ground seeds and pods of chilies. The name comes from the capital of French Guiana, north of Brazil, although the cayenne chili does not grow there any longer and the pepper is made from chilies grown all over the world.

Early Jalapeno : A popular American chili, which starts dark green and gradually turns to red.

Habanero : Often called Scotch Bonnet, this is the hottest of all chilies and is small and can be green, red or yellow. Color is not real guide to its heat properties, so don't be fooled into thinking that green ones are mild. They are all very hot. The habanero comes from Mexico and is frequently used in Mexican and Caribbean dishes..

Hot Gold Spike : A large, pale, yellow-green fruit grown in the south-western United States and it is very hot.

Poblano : A small, dark green chili, served whole in Spain either roasted or grilled. They are mostly mild but you can get the rogue fiery one, so beware if eating them whole.

Red Chili : These are long, rather wrinkled chilies which are green at first and then gradually ripen to red. They are of variable hotness and, because they are so long and thin, are rather fiddly to prepare.

Serrano Chili : A long, red and extremely hot chili.

Tabasco : A sauce made with chilies, salt and vinegar and first made in New Orleans. It is a fiery sauce, popular in Creole, Caribbean and Mexican cookery - or indeed in any dish requiring last minute heat.

Yellow Wax Pepper : Pale yellow to green, these can vary from mild to hot.

More Vegetables Guide

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