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Chili Peppers
Chili PeppersEvery so often I have a customer ask me for a chili pepper. This is never a fun moment for me. I'll ask what kind and get a blank, confused look back 100% of the time. "Chili peppers," they'll finally say, as if maybe I didn't hear the question. So, I'll turn around and show them my entire pepper section: jalapeņos, pablanos, Italian peppers, Anaheim, and four colors of the sweet bell peppers. "Which ones are chili peppers?" The truth does not alleviate any confusion. "They're ALL chili peppers."

Confused too? A chili pepper is the fruit of a plant from the genus capsicum. Yes, I wrote FRUIT, as botanically speaking peppers are berries (but we call them vegetables when referring to them in a culinary sense). But the point isn't that they're berries. The point is that chili is the name for a wide family of different peppers; so there isn't just one kind.

So yes, those extra-large sweet bell peppers are indeed chili peppers. So are the ultra-hot and very tiny habaneros. If you have a recipe that simply calls for chili peppers with no other hint of what type, then you are forgiven. And your recipe is flawed. Instead, look for a recipe that properly names the pepper that it needs so you can get a better sense of what flavor, what heat index, what amount, etc., that is actually required for your dish.
About John

John Darlington has been involved with produce for over half of his life, concentrating in smaller, local markets. Check out John's blog every month to learn what's new and exciting in the wonderful world of fresh produce.


• Chili Peppers
• A Year in Review
• Quizzo Stumper
• More to Find in Produce
• Broccoli Rabe vs. Broccolini
• The Genus Allium
• More for 2009!
• Oranges and Pears Abound
• Variety in Aisle One
• Holiday Fun
• Falling for Fall
• Don't Be Mad at the Avocado
• Summertime Drupes
• The Big Salad Bar Secret
• The Largest Citrus Fruit
• Red Bananas
• Flat Parsley vs. Curly Parsley
• Chinese White Ya Pear
• Sweet Potatoes vs. Yams
• Veggies for Game Day
• Honeybell Tangeloes
• New Arrival: Chayote Squash
• Grape Tomatoes
• Blood Oranges are Back


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Not responsible for typographical errors.