Habanero: Difference between revisions

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Revision as of 22:31, 28 July 2010

Habanero
Habanero closeup edit2.jpg
ryan is awesome
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Capsicum
Species: C. chinense
Binomial name
Capsicum chinense
Jacq.
Habanero
Heat Exceptionally Hot(SR: 100,000 - 350,000[1])

The habanero chili (Capsicum chinense) (pronounced /ˌhɑːbəˈnɛəroʊ/ (deprecated template); Spanish: [aβaˈneɾo]) is one of the more intensely spicy species of chili peppers of the Capsicum genus. It is sometimes spelled (and pronounced) habañero—the diacritical mark being added as a hyperforeignism.[2][3] Unripe habaneros are green, and they color as they mature. Common colors are orange and red, but white, brown, and pink are also seen. Typically a ripe habanero is 2–6 centimetres (0.8–2.4 in) long. Habanero chili peppers are rated 100,000–350,000 on the Scoville scale.

Origin and current use

The habanero chili pepper most likely originated in the Yucatán Peninsula and its coastal regions. It is often mistakenly referred to as the hottest pepper in the world. Upon its discovery by Spaniards, it was rapidly disseminated to other adequate climate areas of the world, to the point that 18th-century taxonomists mistook China for its place of origin and called it "Capsicum chinense"—the Chinese pepper.[4][5][6]

The chili's name is derived from the name of the Cuban city of La Habana, which is known as Havana in English. Although it is not the place of origin, it was frequently traded there.

Today, the crop is most widely cultivated in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. Other modern producers include Belize, Panama (locally named "ají chombo"), Costa Rica, and parts of the United States including Texas, Idaho, and California. While Mexico is the largest consumer of this spicy ingredient, its flavor and aroma have become increasingly popular all over the world.

Habaneros are an integral part of Yucatecan food. Habanero chilies accompany most dishes in Yucatán, either in solid or purée/salsa form.

The Scotch bonnet is often compared to the habanero since they are two varieties of the same species but have different pod types. Both the Scotch bonnet and the habanero have the characteristic thin, waxy flesh. They have a similar heat level and flavor. Although both varieties average around the same level of heat, the actual degree of "heat" varies greatly with genetics, growing methods, climate, and plant stress.

The habanero's heat, its fruity, citrus-like flavor, and its floral aroma have made it a popular ingredient in hot sauces and spicy foods. In some cases, particularly in Mexico, habaneros are placed in tequila or mezcal bottles for a period ranging from several days, to several weeks, to make a spiced version of the drink.

Cultivation

Habaneros thrive in hot weather. As with all peppers, the habanero does well in an area with good morning sun and in soil with a pH level around 5 to 6 (slightly acidic). The habanero should be watered only when dry. Overly moist soil and roots will produce bitter-tasting peppers.

Habanero bushes are good candidates for a container garden. They can live many years in pots or other growing containers at proper temperature.

The habanero is a perennial flowering plant, meaning that with proper care and growing conditions, it can produce flowers (and thus fruit) for many years. However, in temperate climates it is treated as an annual when planted in the ground, dying each winter and being replaced the next spring. In tropical and sub-tropical regions, the habanero, like other chiles, will produce year round. As long as conditions are favorable, the plant will set fruit continuously.

Black habanero is an alternative name often used to describe the dark brown variety of habanero chilis. Seeds have been found that are thought to be over 7000 years old. It has an exotic and unusual taste. Small slivers used in cooking can have a dramatic effect on the overall dish. Gourmets delight in its fiery heat and unusual flavor.

They take considerably longer to grow than other Habanero chili varieties, but are considered by many to be worth the wait. In a dried form they can be preserved for long periods of time, and can be reconstituted in water then added to sauce mixes. Previously known as habanero negra, or by their Nahuatl name, they were translated into English by spice traders in the 19th century as "black habanero". The word "chocolate" was derived from the Nahuatl word, "xocolatl", and was used in the description as well, but it proved to be unpronounceable to the British traders, so it was simply named "black habanero".[citation needed]

Cultivars

Several growers have attempted to selectively breed habanero plants to produce hotter, heavier, and larger peppers. The Naga Jolokia is a chili that has a very high Scoville rating (over 1,000,000 by some measurements) and is often mistaken for a cultivar of the habanero pepper, although it is actually a separate species[citation needed]. Most habaneros rate between 200,000 and 300,000 Scoville units.

In 2004, researchers in Texas created a mild version of the habanero pepper retaining the aroma and flavor of the traditional habanero pepper. The milder version was obtained by crossing the Yucatán habanero pepper with a heatless habanero from Bolivia over several generations. These mild habaneros were expected to be widely available in the future as of 2004.[7]

See also

Gallery

References

External links