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Jan 19, 2012 01:29 PM

Milder alternative to habanero pepper

I want to make a pineapple and pepper jelly but all of the recipes that sound good call for habanero peppers. I do not like extreme heat and do not like to be in pain when I eat. Does anyone have a good substitute for the habanero pepper? I want the taste without the heat.

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  1. Serranos or jalapenos...
    I will say this, if you are talking about a regular pepper jelly, cooked with lots of sugar and vinegar and so on, the jelly making process will take a lot of the heat out of the pepper.

    I made a batch last summer with about half habanero and half serrano and people that professed to have little tolerance for heat ate it and enjoyed it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kengk

      What kengk said. I made the standard batch of habanero gold and while it was warm it was not even close to the heat of fresh habs.

      You can alway try cutting down on the hab and replacing with red or yellow bell pepper to cut the heat some.

    2. You can have the flavor of habanero without as much heat if you remove the seeds and ribs. I do this for a Belizean carrot based hot sauce and it comes out hot, but not wicked.
      You can use other peppers like jalapeno (seed&rib trick works here as well), but you won't get that fruity flavor of habanero.
      The cherry pepper might be a tasty substitute.

      1. I dont know where you live, Saluti, but if you are in the vicinity of puerto rican, dominican or other hispanic caribbean people, you should be able to find aji dulce in the hispanic markets. These are sweet small hat shaped chiles that share the typical capsicum chinense flavor with habeneros, etc but without the heat. There are also sweet south american chinense varieties.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jen kalb

          Agreed, they have a very similar flavor with may be a quarter of the heat.

          1. re: jen kalb

   Trinidad there is something that my family all called "seasoning pepper". All the flavour of habanero but no heat. They are such a great pepper in their own right that my Dad bought seeds back when we last visited family and we occasionally ask for more to be sent in the post. Fabulous things, I didn't know they were more widely known!

          2. What is different about the ones that use habanero? Why do they sound good, but not the others? Do any of those recipes indicate why they call for habanero, as opposed to another?

            Habaneros supposedly have a distinctive fruitiness. But I suspect a person has to have a pretty high heat tolerance to detect that. Most mortals can't get beyond the heat.

            A ripe bell pepper (red, yellow etc) coupled with any hot pepper to taste might work for you.

            14 Replies
            1. re: paulj

              I just discovered pepper jellies and am addicted. This will be my first try at making jelly and I wanted to make sure I paired the correct type of pepper with the pineapple. Most of the recipes I see call for habanero and the only peppers I am familiar with are bell, jalapeno, serrano and chipotle. I do like some heat but not extreme heat. There have been times when I have tried a salsa and at the first bite it tastes great but then the heat hits and I am in agony and can't eat anything else. Some of the pepper jellies I have eaten have a bit of heat to them but the ingredient labels don't mention the names of the peppers used. I will try using half habanero and half yellow bell with a sprinkle of chili flakes. If the sugar and vinegar cut down on the heat that might work. If it tastes good, I will try experimenting with other types of peppers. Thanks for all of the responses!

              1. re: Saluti

                I don't know why one pepper would be more correct than another. I have a book on Mexican salsas. One pairs pineapple with a jalapenos, another with habanero. I've made a pineapple pickle from a Singapore cookbook that just calls for dried chilies (e.g. dried Thai bird chiles). A Peruvian recipe might pair pineapple with rocoto (nearly as hot as habanero, but fleshier) (that just a guess).

              2. re: paulj

                I ve got to part company with you on this, paulj. scotch bonnets and habeneros have the distinctive capsicum chinense flavor which is fruity and smokey very different from the more straight up green flavor of serranos and jalapenos, for example. I urge you to explore them. a drop of a quality hot sauce like Melindas on a plate of rice will convince you. Also re @chefj's comment above, the aji dulce I can buy in my Brooklyn neighborhood mostly have no heat at all. I suspect that some of the south american varieties are spicier. No way are these as high as 1/4 the heat of habeneros.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  I have used sauces like Melindas at various heat levels. One thing to keep in mind when judging their taste is that often the base is carrots. That by itself will give a different taste than something using straight chile arbol (a common Mexican hot sauce pepper).

                  For me, habanero is too hot to use in quantities that let me taste the fruitiness.

                  While I've never seen aji dulce in a store. I am familiar with the 3 varieties of Peruvian ajis which are exported, rocoto (pubescens),amarillo (baccatum), panca (?). I'm finding conflicting information on the species for aji panca (frutescens, chinense), but it is described as having a mild, smoky, fruity taste. I use the dried ones much like I would anchos. I have a bottle of Peruvian passion fruit and amarillo sauce, which suggests that amarillo would also go well with pineapple.

                  1. re: paulj

                    Carrots are also used as heat killers.

                    Baccatuum are my absolute favorite species. Lemon drops in particular.

                    A few years ago I made a peach habanero jelly with some habs that I grew. Very hot habs, but once combined and cooked with the peaches and sugar and stuff, the resulting jelly wasn't too hot. Really good stuff, I'll have to make some more this year.

                    1. re: chileheadmike

                      I did the same last summer--super hot habs, but combined with peaches and a touch of mint, both of which seemed to tame the habs. I used some as a spread, and the rest as marinade for boring old chicken.

                      Straight up, tho', I used habs--seeds and all--in my Indian biryani, where the heat was welcome and the fruitiness was perfect for the lamb.

                    2. re: paulj

                      If you eat west indian cooking (where a single scotch bonnet will perfume a whole dish of rice, beans, or meat) you will be able to experience the flavor as well as the heat this chile offers. I freeze a ziploc of aji dulce when I find them in the market - whole chiles are a great freezer ingredient.

                      Aji dulce is a descriptive term, and not all peppers with this name are necessarily of the chinense species.

                    3. re: jen kalb

                      I am sure you know that most peppers can range greatly in how much bite they have even with in a single variety. Thus my "may be a quarter" I have had habaneros that are not real hot as well aji dulces that are.

                    4. re: paulj

                      I like lots of heat, but personally I don't care for the flavor of habaneros. Am I the only person who feels this way?

                        1. re: Duppie

                          OK, Duppie, I'm very sorryl Right now I feel like I've been thrown into the vat of people who don't like cilantro and substitute parsley.

                          1. re: Barbara76137

                            Don't fret.....I'm not fond of Habaneros myself,I much prefer Scotch bonnets not because it's what I'm used to but the taste signature is quite different, even if the two tend to get lumped together. Try to find real West Indian scotch bonnet, take the seeds and veins out so the heat does not distract from the taste and you will find notes of pineapple,guava and a fruit called pommecythere or golden apple.

                            1. re: Duppie

                              It's one thing to talk about scotch bonnet v habanero when you live in NY or Miami, but it sound like exotic foreign talk to someone living in Seattle.

                              1. re: paulj

                                Some of the best Bonnets are grown in California and I was able to purchase some,albeit, quite expensively at Pike's place market several years ago.So they are not as exotic as you believe.

                    5. Habaneros definitely have a great flavor, and I think it comes through even used in small amounts. Melinda's habanero ketchup is addictive but they use so little that it is not as zippy as their jalapeƱo ketchup. I am thrilled to learn of another pepper with a similar flavor. I have asked Texas A and M to develop a milder habanero (they are the folks who came up with 1015 onions). Maybe we can mobilize a campaign!

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: tim irvine

                        Wasn't it already done? Your post reminded me of a TV show:
                        Theres a program on Canadian Food Network called Glutton for Punishment. The host, Bob Blumer, has to tackle food related challanges (shucking oysters, world record speed pancake making, Chinese hand-pulled noodles, etc etc).
                        One episode, he gets into a habanero eating contest. Part of his strategy was to "warm up" in front of the other contestants by happily chomping habaneros. BUT, they were a mild version, the ploy being to rattle the other contestants.
                        The good folks at A&M developped them

                        1. re: porker

                          Dopey moi. I wonder why stores don't carry and market them.(or, if they are carrying them, market them as such).

                          1. re: tim irvine

                            From the article:
                            "Not everyone hails the breakthrough. Dr. Crosby, 33, a native Texan and a distant relative of the crooner Bing, said "chili pepper fanatics" have called with rude questions about what he was thinking and why he was wasting his time. A Mexican voiced complete bewilderment. Why, he asked Dr. Crosby, would you want a habanero that's not hot?"
                            Maybe its a lobby from people like these stopping the evil production and distribution?

                        2. re: tim irvine

                          Not sure if your post is tongue in cheek or not, but in the event it's not....Texas A&M has already accomplished that feat to accommodate the ever burgeoning salsa market with a consistent product. The so called TAM jalapeno has no heat and has insidiously infiltrated the market to the point that purchasing a pepper with any heat at all has become a crap shoot. I now taste one before I buy and grow my own. You got your wish.