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Oct 27, 2007 01:29 PM

Are "they" dumbing down habanero peppers?

Jalapeno's used to be plenty hot, but there was a concerted push to dumb them down so that they became a more tame, and thus more widely used ingredient.

I just put an entire habanero in a quesadilla and barely got any burn. It was disappointing.

So, the non-burning question; are they dumbing down habaneros now too?

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  1. good question. I made some salsa the other day with a lot of serranos and I didn't get ANY heat from them. Aren't they spicier than jalapenos? Tasted more like a poblano

    1. Sadly it may be true. Fresh and canned jalapenos and serranos here in chile intensive SoCal have been getting noticeably milder over the last few years (dammit). By far the worst canned/jarred ones come from Peru for unknown reasons.
      I'd still treat habaneros with a lot of respect :-). Chile manzanos are supposed to be almost as picante but I haven't tried them yet.

      OTOH I really hurt myself carelessly preparing a large batch of dried chile de arbol recently. I now put my trust in *liquid* hand soap.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DiveFan

        Mexican peppers grown in Peru for export would be tailored to the tastes of the export market. Look for rocotos if you want a hot Peruvian pepper.

      2. I wouldn't be at all surprised, but since it was a single pepper you may have found that one that just wasn't hot.
        Pepper heat can vary wildly from batch to batch, and sometimes even on the same plant.

        1 Reply
        1. re: hannaone

          Ate another one on some eggs this morning. Same deal, pretty mild. This time I used an entire pepper and barely got enough heat to notice.

          I may have to start growing my own.

        2. I certainly hope not. If you do find that habanero's are going mild look for their fiery cousin's-- scotch bonnets. And if you find them, be careful!

          1. Texas A&M University has been researching and hybridizing breeds of chilis since the 70's at least. Their main thrust is to serve the growers/producers to the food industry by developing plants with increased yield, higher disease resistence, and lower Scoville ratings.

            Why the dumb-down? Not everyone can take the incredible heat of peppers, but they sure want to keep up with their friends and brag about eating the fiery stuff.. So now the giant producers can create a salsa or sauce and label it Habanero but appeal to a much broader target market.

            Which points out the necessity of supporting small local growers who are small enough to respond to what you ask for. They will keep growing the heirlooms and create a demand for the seed. Truely a case of Use or Lose it, seed-wise.


            See you at the Farmer's Market!

            1 Reply
            1. re: toodie jane

              I think Texas A&M and the rest of the food service 'front end' would put more emphasis on 'niche' marketing of products.
              The demographic that likes spicy chiles has grown tremendously in proportion to the rest of the population, yet we can't get the 'dee-de-dee' distribution chain to move more and spicier fresh NM chiles to the West Coast; meanwhile store bins are overflowing with dried, probably ancient, chiles that probably came from the same place.
              This situation reminds me of the growers of the Capay Valley in California who keep planting 'pizza' olive trees and complain about low market prices.