The habanero is one of the hottest chiles, and it makes an appearance in a wide number of cuisines. These small orange peppers have quite a history, dating back thousands of years – the earliest example of the species was found in Peru, with a preserved pod estimated to be 8500 years old!
Habanero peppers get their name from La Habana (more familiar to Americans as “Havana”) in Cuba, where they were frequently grown and traded. Today’s habaneros are grown throughout Mexico, South America, Texas, Idaho and California, among other locations. Here are a few things you might not have known about the habanero:
- Spaniards discovered the habanero in the Caribbean and quickly disseminated it throughout the world on their travels. This led 18th-century taxonomists to believe the chile was actually from China, which explains the pepper’s confusing scientific name, Capsicum chinense.
- Habaneros are the same species as the Scotch Bonnet, a popular Caribbean pepper that’s featured in many local jerks and curries. Although they are not precisely identical, habaneros and Scotch Bonnets have similar enough flavors and heat ratings that they can be easily substituted for one another in recipes.
- Specially bred varieties of habanero have been developed with little or no heat. The result is a fruity, vaguely citrus-flavored pepper without the blazing heat usually associated with the pepper.
- Many of the world’s habanero peppers are grown in hydroponic greenhouses rather than in fields. These are particularly common in the Yucatan peninsula, where hydroponic technology allows many more crops to be grown in a smaller amount of space.
- Because they are so high in capsaicin, habanero peppers are also frequently cultivated for use in pepper sprays, analgesics, pest repellants and more. There’s quite a market for habaneros outside of the food industry because of it!
At The Chile Guy, we sell habanero powder, perfect for adding to your jerks, marinades and stews. Contact us to learn more about our products or to place an order for your chile needs today!