A J I L I M O C H I L I P E P P E R
The Aji Limo is a medium-sized heirloom chili pepper from Peru and often used in Peruvian cooking. It is a pepper from the same species as the habañero. It is both sweet and very hot, and rates between 30,000 and 50,000 Scoville heat units. It has a bright, citrusy flavor and pairs well with fish dishes and sauces.
The plant that produces the chili pepper is in the nightshade family, along with tomatoes and eggplants. Chili peppers are spicy due to a chemical called capsaicin, which binds with pain receptors in the mouth whose task is to sense heat. While the heat is felt as a burning sensation, no actual burns occur. The heat felt during consumption is measured in Scoville units. Bell peppers have a 0 SCU rating (no heat) while ghost peppers (Naga Jolokia) have a 1,000,000 SCU rating. Pure capsaicin rates at 15,000,000 to 16,000,000 SCU.
H E A L T H B E N E F I T S
Chili peppers are nutritious and contain high levels of Vitamin C and beta carotene, which the body synthesizes into Vitamin A. They also contain high levels of Vitamin B6. All of these nutrients fight and prevent cancer, and are beneficial for the skin, hair and eyes. Research on capsaicin has also found it to be useful in lowering cholesterol levels, alleviating pain- especially due to arthritis - and regulating insulin in diabetics.
H I S T O R Y
Chili peppers have been consumed in the Americas since 7500 BC. Christopher Columbus is credited with the chili pepper’s introduction to Europe, as he brought them back after his voyage to the Caribbean. He is also credited with naming them ‘peppers’ after the botanically unrelated Old World Black peppers.
S E L E C T I O N & S T O R I N G
Select peppers that are firm, with a firm green stem and skin free of blemishes. Scars (striated white lines) are common and can be used to determine a jalapeño pepper’s level of heat- more scars equals hotter peppers.
Diced peppers can be kept in plastic in the refrigerator for up to a week. Uncut chili peppers can be left in a cool dark counter top space for up to a week. They can also be left out and dried.
P R E P T I P S
Chili peppers can be added to dishes raw or cooked. By removing the inner membrane of the chili and the seeds, it is possible to remove much of the capsaicin and thus much of the heat of a spicy pepper. Chili peppers can also be dried and ground into spice for use in dishes (such as cayenne or chili powder) or combined with other ingredients and made into sauces or condiments.
Dried chili peppers can be reconstituted by soaking them in hot water for 5-10 minutes or until soft. Use as you would a fresh pepper.