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Food of The Month: Hot Peppers

Spicy, hot, and delicious, hot peppers are a popular ingredient in a variety of dishes. Unlike their mild counterpart, the bell pepper, the most common hot peppers — pepperoncini, poblano, jalapeno,
serrano, and chili peppers — provide the kick in salads, chilis, tacos, and more. Hot peppers help with cold symptoms, may cure a headache, are associated with losing weight, and may reduce allergy symptoms.

The Basics:

Hot peppers are measured on the Scoville scale (SHU). This identifies the amount of heat in the pepper. For example, bell peppers rate a 0 on the Scoville scale. The most common hot peppers rank as follows: pepperoncini (100-500 SHU), poblano (1000-2000 SHU), jalapeno (2500-5000 SHU), serrano (6000- 23,000 SHU), chili peppers (30,000-50,000 SHU). Peppers should have a strong color and no obvious bruises or soft spots. Handle peppers with care, using rubber gloves or disposable gloves. Using a paring knife, slice the pepper in half lengthwise, scraping the seeds off unless you want the extra heat. Be careful, though; the seeds of peppers are very hot! Continue to slice or chop the pepper as needed. When done, remove the gloves carefully and wash your
hands thoroughly. Do not touch your face until your hands are completely clean. The oils from hot peppers can burn the skin and the eyes, so be careful! Want to know more?

Try This:

Add some finely chopped hot pepper to your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe or mashed potato recipe. The creaminess of the macaroni or potatoes will balance out the heat of the hot pepper. Try heating up an Asian dish by making a spicy beef stir fry. Adding some chopped jalapeno will work well with the richness of the red meat. Experiment with different hot peppers, but be sure to add just a little at a time. Taste frequently to make sure that you are getting the amount of heat you wish.

The Facts:

Hot peppers are very low in calories. For example, one cup of chopped jalapeno pepper
is only about 25 calories. Hot peppers are excellent sources of antioxidants and are considered