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Chilis; a little perspective, please

mucho gordo Sep 13, 2010 04:20 PM

I love serrano chilis because they're not too hot and stay crisp after cooking. Jalapenos can be either to mild or too hot. I can't tell which is which when buying. I love the taste piquin chilis give to food. They're not hot but difficult to find in the market. I'm not sure I like the taste habaneros give to food and they really are too hot.
My question is: just where do ancho, pasillo, and others fit in? How do they compare with serrano, for example? Are they hotter? Do they stay crisp when cooked? What kind of taste do they impart?

  1. DonShirer Sep 14, 2010 06:56 PM

    Here is the hotness table...may vary within species by factors of ten or more:

    Scoville Units
    Bell, Sweet Italian 0
    Peperocini, Pimento 100-500
    New Mexico 500-1000
    Tabasco sauce (green) 600-800
    Ancho, Passila, Poblano, Anaheim 1000-1500
    Sandia, Rocotillo 1500-2500
    Tabasco sauce, Pasilla 2500-5000
    Jalapeno, Chipolte 2500-10,000
    Wax Pepper, Guajillo,Puya 5000-10,000
    Serrano 5000-23,000
    Tabasco Sauce (habanero) 7000-8000
    de Arbol, Japone 15,00-30-000
    Pequin, Aji, Cayenne 30,000-50,000
    Jamaican Hot Pepper 100,000-200,000
    Chiltecepin , Pequin, Red Amazon 70,000-75,000
    Habenero, Scotch Bonnet 80,000-300,000+
    Red Savina Habanero 350,000-577,000
    Nago Jolokia, Dorset Naga 855,000-970,000
    Std. US Grade Pepper spray 2,000,000-5,000,000
    Pure capsaicin 15,000,000+

    Mild 0-5000
    Medium 5000-20,000
    Hot 20,000-70,000
    Extreme 70,000-300,000

    4 Replies
    1. re: DonShirer
      mariacarmen Sep 14, 2010 09:47 PM

      had never heard of the nago jolokia/dorset naga -i'd always heard that Habaneros were the hottest in the world. Love habaneros, but i can't imagine eating something so much hotter.

      1. re: mariacarmen
        paulj Sep 14, 2010 10:04 PM

        We've talked about them in this 'ghost peppers' thread

      2. re: DonShirer
        PorkButt Sep 14, 2010 10:54 PM

        A new British cultivar, the Infinity chilli/chile, is claimed to have the highest Scoville rating.


        This year's crop rates at 1.176m while the tested ghost pepper sample came in at 1.041m

        1. re: DonShirer
          mucho gordo Sep 15, 2010 10:16 AM

          Great! I made a copy for reference. I saw some I never heard of and don't see the small Thai chilis unless they have a different name.

        2. Veggo Sep 13, 2010 05:01 PM

          Serranos are in the hot group. They are much more slender and fleshy and slightly lighter in color than jalapenos. Jalapenos are hollow and have seeds. You are right about jalapenos, being mild or hot. Chipotles are smoked jalapenos, and are uniformly hot. Anchos are dried poblanos and add an intense, fairly sweet contribution, as do pasillas, which are the dried form of numerous chilis. Pasilla means raisin.
          Habaneros are nuclear and I sometimes make a small amount of fresh salsa with them, mostly for egg dishes. El Arbol chilis are hot with very little flesh, but make a great salsa picante.
          This is a start - there are many chile experts here!

          13 Replies
          1. re: Veggo
            mucho gordo Sep 13, 2010 05:19 PM

            Thanks Paulj and Veggo. Do the arbol chilis have about the same amount of heat as serrano's? I keep getting ancho and arbol confused. Which would add a nice taste to my regular chili or my chili verde? What about the piquin chili; they're not really hot but add some flavor. Which would go better in my chilis to give it some heat and flavor..arbol or ancho?

            1. re: mucho gordo
              Veggo Sep 13, 2010 05:32 PM

              paulj and I were typing at the same time and he knows his stuff. I buy the de arbol chiles as loose stock and allready dried, I keep a bag in my pantry and whack them in my little chopper as the need arises. A little goes a long way. They add heat and I like them with scampi and fra diavolo, to digress from Mexican. Anchos are all flavor. Re-hydrate one in a saucer of water for 20 minutes and try it. Delicious, intense flavor. I'm not familiar with the piquin. To your question: de arbol will add heat and ancho will add flavor to your "regular" chili, but chili verde is another discussion.

              1. re: mucho gordo
                paulj Sep 13, 2010 06:34 PM

                Ancho is used either ground or reconstituted by tablespoon to the give the base flavor to chili. Arbol is one of many choices for adding heat to the chili. I only use it indirectly via Cholula hot sauce.

                1. re: paulj
                  mucho gordo Sep 14, 2010 11:03 AM

                  I use cholula also but thought the main ingredient was piquin not arbol. In fact, I just checked the label to make sure I knew what I was saying. The label say a mixture of red and piquin chilis.
                  Thanks to you and Veggo, I now have more options.

                  1. re: mucho gordo
                    paulj Sep 14, 2010 11:27 AM

                    I may be wrong about Cholula. I don't currently have a bottle of it. In any case, arbols are in the appropriate heat range.

                    1. re: paulj
                      mucho gordo Sep 14, 2010 11:37 AM

                      Thanks, that does help. I see arbols in the market all the time but not piquin.

                      1. re: paulj
                        paulj Sep 14, 2010 01:52 PM

                        The online cholula (original) label says 'peppers (arbol and piquin)'

                        1. re: paulj
                          mucho gordo Sep 14, 2010 06:45 PM

                          You're right. I wonder how I missed seeing the word 'arbol'. Senior moment.

                  2. re: mucho gordo
                    zebcook Sep 14, 2010 03:59 PM

                    Piquins are a small chile, usually dried, about the size of a kernel of corn. They tend to have a sharp and fierce up-front heat but not the fruity flavor of something like an ancho. Officially they are ranked about 7 times hotter than jalapenos on the Scoville scale. They are very good for adding bite to more flavorful chiles, plus the plant is very easy to grow (IMO).

                    1. re: zebcook
                      paulj Sep 14, 2010 05:02 PM

                      and probably as close to wild chilies as most of us will eat.

                      1. re: zebcook
                        paulj Sep 14, 2010 05:30 PM

                        I don't think I've ever seen them fresh. Dried are not too hard to find on the Mexican spice racks. My supply is several years old. Sometimes I float one piquin in my pot of hot cocoa to add a hint of spice.

                        1. re: zebcook
                          mucho gordo Sep 14, 2010 06:47 PM

                          I don't notice the heat as much as the flavor it gives. I would have thought jalapenos were hotter. I can't always find them in the market.

                      2. re: Veggo
                        Passadumkeg Sep 14, 2010 04:19 PM

                        At the SXSW Music Festival, in Austin, they make habanero tacos and they are known as Atomic Tacos. 'Nuff said.

                      3. paulj Sep 13, 2010 04:52 PM

                        Poblano is the large, dark green, triangular, chile. Often in US markets it is labeled pasilla (a California grocery influence). It is relatively mild, though occasional ones are hotter. It is usually roasted and peeled. In Mexico is the favorite one for stuffing (chile relleno). It is also cut into strips and served in a creamy sauce. There is even a 'condensed cream of poblano soup'. The rough equivalent in the USA is Anaheims and the milder New Mexico chiles.

                        Ancho (wide) is a dried Poblano. It is widely used in Mexican cooking. I think of it as providing the base notes for Mexican cooking. True Pasilla (raisin like) is a long narrow dried chile, similar in flavor and heat level to ancho. Guajillo is a smooth skin dried chile, brighter red in color. Ground guajillo is widely used in Mexico as flavoring on candies and fruit. All three (and some similar dried ones) form the base complex Mexican sauces called moles.

                        Chili powder (a mix with cumin and oregano) may be largely ground ancho, though various blends of dried New Mexico chiles are used as well.

                        Jalapeno and serano don't dry well (in the sun), but jalapenos are smoke dried. Chile de arbol (tree chile) is a smaller hot chile that is widely used in Mexico in dried form, often as the base for hot sauces.

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