Peppers Hot and Mild

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“Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers...” what

the heck is a peck anyway? A ”˜peck’ is 2 gallons, 8

quarts, or 1/4 bushel, which is a plenteous portion of peppers. This

week in your TakeHome box is a pair of pepper selections: cool Green

Bell Peppers from Avalos Farms in Hollister (San Benito County), CA

and hot Jalapeño Peppers from Willey Farms in Madera (Madera

County), CA. Also in the mix are Tomatillos, which look like a pepper

but are really related to the tomato family.

”˜Pepper’ is such a broad term, covering everything

from peppercorns to the fruit peppers in your box (remember, culinary

fruits have seeds inside too). The Bells and Jalapeños in this

week's mix are Capsicum annuum, while peppercorns are in the genus

Piper, perhaps where Peter got his peppers. The whole name mix up

started with Chris Columbus, who was searching for the valuable

peppercorns of the East Indies (pimento in Spanish) and brought back

native chili peppers instead.

Bells are “sweet” peppers. In the 60’s we only

had green bell peppers, now they come in an array of yellow, orange,

red, purple, and various mixes of each. Over the years bells have been

cultivated to be juicy and have less seeds. They add crunch and color

to any recipe but they are a fragile crop and take careful handling to

grow organically. One cup of raw peppers exceeds your daily value for

Vitamins C and A.

At the other end of the Capsicum family taste spectrum is the

Jalapeño. Most people have some experience with this hotsie

totsie, so you likely know your own heat threshold. The Scolville

Scale measures hot peppers’ hotness, or capsaicin, in

increments from 500 to 400,000. The average Jalapeño registers

about 4,000 Scolville units. Jalapeños hotness and flavor vary

depending on growing conditions, with dried chilies being more

intense. It is a good idea to wear rubber gloves when cutting

Jalapeños, or other hot peppers, the capsaicin can linger on

your skin even after washing. Capsaicin is the source of

peppers’ medicinal power, stimulating circulation, digestion,

and healing. It is also used in topical creams to relieve arthritis

pain.

However you slice them, from mild to Ahua!, peppers are the spice of

life.

 

 

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