Chilli | More About The Spice

Chilli has been a part of the South American diet for 7000 years! Chilli varieties are the world’s most frequently used culinary spice and the heat is mostly concentrated in the seeds and the white pith.

Chilli bush
Chilli bush

All chilli varieties require good drainage, full sunshine and an enriched soil. Do not grow chillies where related species of the family, such as tomatoes and eggplants, have recently been grown. Chillies require a minimum growing season of 3 months. In cooler areas, grow seedlings under protection before planting them out after the last frost. the flowers are self pollinating and they also ready cross pollinate. Pick the chillies at any time but remember that they reach peak heat when they turn red. Unripe chillies are green, but when ripe they may be red, yellow, purple or almost black. The heat level varies from negligible to off the scale! Generally, the smaller the chilli, the hotter it will be.

Indian, West Indian, African and Asian cuisines are almost unthinkable without chillies yet they were almost unknown in these parts of the world until after 1492 when Columbus introduced them from the New World. All species of chillies are indigenous to South America. Capsaicin is fat soluble which means that the addition of yoghurt to a dish will cool it down. Choose firm, shiny fresh chillies and avoid those that are wrinkled. Green chillies are always used fresh and red chillies can be used fresh or dried. Dried chillies are fruitier and sweeter even though they retain their heat. You can preserve fresh chillies in vinegar, or dry them at home for later use.

Chilli condiments include paprika, cayenne, Tabasco, Peri Peri and Mole Poblano. Dishes using paprika include Crayfish Goulash and using chillies you can try sweet chilli sauce or harissa.

information sourced from The Complete Book of Herbs
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21 thoughts on “Chilli | More About The Spice

  1. Thanks Tandy for this informative post. We’re trying again to germinate our chilli seeds – some of the rarer varieties are very fussy indeed. I’m trying to grow bishop’s crown – we used to have it in the garden, but not for the last decade, so I was pretty chuffed to find the seeds again! 🙂

  2. Very informative post, thank you. I never knew that like tomatoes and potatoes, Columbus brought chilli to the Old World. It really is unthinkable that all those cuisines you mentioned did not use chilli before that (like tomato in the Mediterranean or potatoes in Northern Europe!).

  3. Great read, thanks Tandy. My “threshold” for handling chilli definitely increased living in Mauritius as it is more often than not in all dishes. Here at home we have beautiful little birds eye chillis in the garden (all of one plant left) and a couple of peppadew bushes that have survived too.
    🙂 Mandy

  4. I don’t generally like hot food, I can only use Nandos peri peri on chips and when I am without my K, she always wants something from my plate even when we are having the same stuff, hehe!

  5. I’m waiting for my chilli’s to turn red at the moment. A few of them have turned and I’m dying to know how hot they are, as they were an Italian variety that I’m not familiar with.
    Time to plant some as well I think. Love a good kick!

  6. Pingback: Preserved Lemon And Pickled Garlic Gremolata

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