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Detecting Heat in Chiles

OK, so I was watching a Throwdown episode, and two chefs originally from Mexico said that you can tell how much heat is in a Poblano by whether the stem is straight or curved. Supposedly, if the chile is mild, the stem is straight, and if the chile is hot the stem is curved.

They made an amazing dish in the show and really seemed to have their cooking chops.

So, do we think this is legit? If so, does it apply to other chiles, as well? So cool if it works! I've encountered a HUGE range of heat in peppers in my life, and I'd like to be able to tell in advance how much they're going to burn!

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  1. Wow, never heard of that. I always thought you just had to taste them.

    I'm going to stop by my mother's this weekend and conduct an experiment. She has 4 or 5 different types of chili peppers growing and I'll see if she'll let me pick 2 of each--one straight, one curved stem--and I'll compare and report back!

    1 Reply
    1. I've never heard that before - sounds like old kitchen lore to me.

      1 Reply
      1. re: thimes

        You're, right, it does. That's why I put it here for evaluation!

      2. At first glance that looks bogus to me, but then I thought about it and realized that there might (in Mexico, at least) be two varieties of poblano, one hotter than the other, and the hotter one has curved stems where the mild one doesn't. Just a theory, but it would explain this (if it's true at all, that is).

        Of course, if you get both straight and curved stems on the same plant, my theory goes out the window.

        1. I work with them all the time and this has not been my experience. I find peppers like all plant products to be fairly unpredictable. On the other hand I have never been consciously testing this theory. Thanks for my spring/summer project!

          1. Monica and Bill could provide an answer...just kidding.
            I'm a huge fan of poblanos, but I'm skeptical of the stem test. 90% are quite mild. But one time I made my shrimp, corn, and poblano soup and it scorched. One must test along the way.