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All about “Chilli / Pepper”

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The pepper is a more or less fleshy pod which contains many seeds in its interior cavity. Chili peppers grow on plants that can reach about 1.5 meters in height. There are nearly 10 species of peppers that come in different shapes, sizes, colors and flavors.

Examples of varieties of peppers

Green peppers Red / copper / purple peppers Yellow peppers
Jalapeno Ancho Carribe
Serrano Cascadel / Cherry pepper Guero
Poblano Cayenne pepper  

Chili peppers produce and accumulate carotenoid pigments which are responsible for the characteristic yellow, orange and red color of peppers.

Scoville scale

In 1912, a pharmacologist named Wilbur Scoville invented the Scoville scale which measures the strength of peppers by their content of capsaicin, a compound that stimulates nerve endings in the mucous membranes and skin. The higher the capsaicin content, the more hot the pepper will be.

Degree Appreciation Scoville units Example
0 neutral 0 – 100 Pepper
1 soft 100 – 500 Sweet paprika
2 warm 500 – 1,000 Anaheim Pepper
3 statement 1,000 – 1,500 Ancho pepper
4 hot 1,500 – 2,500 Espelette pepper
5 strong 2,500 – 5,000 Chimayo pepper
6 ardent 5,000 – 15,000 Strong paprika
7 burning 15,000 – 30,000 Cascabel pepper
8 torrid 30,000 – 50,000 Cayenne pepper
9 volcanic 50,000 – 100,000 Tabasco pepper
10 explosive 100,000 and over Habanero pepper


Health profile

Belonging to the same family as the sweet pepper, the chili is renowned for its very characteristic pungent taste. A staple ingredient in Mexican cuisine for centuries, countless dishes can be enhanced by adding a hint of fresh, dried, crushed or powdered pepper.

Active principles and properties

A fire that does not go out with water …
The consumption of hot peppers can cause a strong sensation of heat and burning in the mouth, especially in uninitiated people. The first instinct is often to swallow a good sip of cool water, but it turns out that this measure is ineffective. In fact, capsaicin, compound responsible for the pungent chili, is not soluble in water, but in materials fat 25 . It makes more sense to swallow a sip of milk, a piece of cheese or any other food that contains oil or fat!

Antioxidants . Antioxidants are compounds that protect cells in the body from damage caused by free radicals. These are very reactive molecules that are believed to be involved in the development of cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers and other diseases linked to aging 1 . Hot peppers contain several types of antioxidants and as they ripen the concentration of many of these compounds increases , 3 . In a study analyzing several antioxidants in chili peppers, the compound with the strongest antioxidant activity was luteolin , followed by capsaicin and quercetin 4 .

  • Capsaicin . Capsaicin (or capsicin) and its derivatives are responsible for the hot sensation of hot pepper 5 , in addition to possessing antioxidant activity , 6 . In addition, studies in humans show that capsaicin in chili peppers causes an increase in basal metabolism after food intake 7-9 . Pepper capsaicin has also been shown in humans to increase feelings of fullness 10 and decrease food intake 10-12. Combined with a healthy lifestyle, these short-term effects of chili peppers can be an added bonus for people watching their body weight. Finally, although research has sometimes assumed the opposite, more and more studies agree on the fact that capsaicin would reveal properties in vitro and in animals that can contribute to the prevention of cancer 13-16 . However, the extent to which these anticancer properties can be applied to the human organism must be assessed. (For more information on capsaicin, see the Cayenne fact sheet).
  • Flavonoids . Hot peppers contain several flavonoids, a large family of antioxidants: the main flavonoids in peppers include luteolin and quercetin 17 . Although many in vitro and animal studies show a protective effect against certain chronic diseases (e.g. cancer and cardiovascular disease), reviews of the scientific literature add that more studies in humans are needed to better understand the effect of flavonoids 18 , 19 .
  • Alpha-tocopherol . Some varieties of hot pepper are good sources of alpha-tocopherol, an antioxidant compound that is also a form of vitamin E . Indeed, many of these peppers contain more than 7 mg of alpha-tocopherol per 100 g serving 20 . For comparison, hazelnuts, a food considered to be very high in alpha-tocopherol, contains 15 mg per 100 g serving. In addition to its antioxidant properties, alpha-tocopherol, according to some research data, may play a role in the prevention of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. However, the data on this subject is still mixed and calls for further study 21 .

Other properties

Is chili an antioxidant? Moderately (chili powder)  : The TAC for fresh chilli is unknown, but chili powder is 709 μmol per 1 tsp serving. (5 ml).
Is chili acidifying? Hot chili pepper has a PRAL index of -5.0 which makes it a rather alkalizing food
Does chili have a high glycemic load? Hot chili pepper has a glycemic load of 3.2 making it a food with a low glycemic load.

Most important nutrients

See the meaning of the nutrient source classification symbols

 Vitamin C . The chili chili fort is an excellent source of vitamin C while the chili jalapeno is one source . The role that vitamin C plays in the body goes beyond its antioxidant properties; it also contributes to the health of bones, cartilage, teeth and gums. In addition, it protects against infections, promotes the absorption of iron contained in plants and accelerates healing.

 Iron . The chili chili strong is a source of iron for humans , the needs of man and woman are different. Each body cell contains iron. This mineral is essential for the transport of oxygen and the formation of red blood cells in the blood. It also plays a role in the manufacture of new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It should be noted that the iron contained in foods of plant origin is less well absorbed by the body than the iron contained in foods of animal origin. The absorption of iron from plants is however favored when consumed with certain nutrients, such as vitamin C.

 Manganese . The chili chili strong is a source of manganese for women, the needs of man and woman are different. Manganese acts as a cofactor of several enzymes that facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes. It also participates in the prevention of damage caused by free radicals .

 Copper . The chili hot pepper is a source of copper. As a component of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (a protein used for the structure and repair of tissues) in the body. Several copper-containing enzymes also help in the body’s defense against free radicals.

 Vitamin B6 . The pepper is a source of vitamin B6. Also called pyridoxine, vitamin B6 is part of coenzymes involved in the metabolism of proteins and fatty acids as well as in the synthesis (manufacture) of neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It also helps make red blood cells and allows them to carry more oxygen. Pyridoxine is also necessary for the transformation of glycogen into glucose and it contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system. Finally, this vitamin plays a role in the formation of certain components of nerve cells and in the modulation of hormone receptors.

 Vitamin K . The chili chili strong is a source of vitamin K. Vitamin K is necessary for the synthesis (manufacture) of proteins that works to blood clotting (as much stimulation as inhibiting blood clotting). It also plays a role in the formation of bones. In addition to being found in the diet, vitamin K is produced by bacteria present in the intestine, hence the rarity of deficiencies in this vitamin.

What is a “portion” of chili worth?
Weight / volume Jalapeño, raw, 14 g (1 chili) Hot chili, red or green, raw, 45 g (1 chili)
Calories 4 18
Protein 0.2 g 0.9 g
Carbohydrates 0.8 g 4.3 g
Lipids 0.1 g 0.1 g
Dietary fiber 0.4 g 0.7 g

Source  : Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File , 2005.

Hot pepper, harmless to the stomach?
Due to their pungent effect, it is sometimes recommended in cases of stomach ulcer to eliminate hot peppers from the diet to avoid exacerbating the pain. However, several studies seem to show that hot peppers do not cause additional damage to the stomach. Some even indicate that the capsaicin they contain could have a protective effect on the stomach wall 22-24. This would however be especially the case for a reasonable amount of capsaicin, by the consumption of peppers. Pending further studies to further assess this phenomenon, it remains preferable to be careful with capsules and other concentrates, which may contain much higher amounts of capsaicin. It is also wise to continue to respect your personal tolerance, some people having less ease than others in consuming hot peppers.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Some people with irritable bowel syndrome may experience varying degrees of intolerance to certain foods. Sometimes the intolerance concerns spices and hot condiments such as peppers. By limiting or avoiding these foods, people with this syndrome may ease digestive pain or discomfort. When the symptoms are mild or during the so-called “remission” periods, it is sometimes possible to gradually reintegrate these foods, always respecting individual tolerance.

Gastroesophageal reflux
Several people suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease, often recognizable by an upward movement of stomach contents into the esophagus causing discomfort or a burning sensation. It is recommended that people with this disorder avoid foods whose contact can cause symptoms of reflux, including spices and hot condiments such as chili peppers.

Chili over time

The term “  piment  ”, which appeared in the French language around 1980 and which then meant “baume, épice”, comes from the Latin pigmentum . In 1664, this name will be given to Capsicum and its fruit.

The name ”  pepper  ” (as in cayenne pepper) to designate the pepper results from a confusion. Indeed, when Christopher Columbus set foot in America, he (or rather his doctor) took the small pungent berries for red peppercorns and believed that he had just reached India. The error would be cleared up, but the name stuck; ”  Pepper  ” is derived from it. On the other hand, the so-called allspice plant does not belong to the genus or the botanical family of chili.

”  Chile  “, which is also written ”  chili  ” or ”  chilli  “, comes from Nahuatl, language of the Aztecs, and designates a variety of hot peppers belonging to the species Capsicum frutescens . However, in popular parlance, “chile,” “chili” or “chilli” can refer to any type of chili.

A bit of history

Pepper eaters clubs
Among them, the hot pepper lovers of the United States refer to themselves as chiliheads or chilehead , a word that is difficult to translate into French, but which evokes the enthusiasm that this spice arouses among our cousins ​​in the South. The chileheads have their specialized magazine, their fair, their industrial show, their association, their club of the month, their radio, their regional or national competitions, and they can choose from about 5,000 sauces commonly offered on the market.

Likely native to Bolivia and surrounding areas, the chili quickly spread throughout the area that covers South America, Central America and Mexico. Birds are believed to have been its main agent of dissemination. Indeed, they enjoy the advantage of being insensitive to its strong and irritating flavor. Originally cultivated for decorative purposes, the pepper was later used for culinary purposes.

Based on remains found in a cave in Tehuacan, Mexico, chili pepper is believed to have been domesticated for at least 7,000 years (some say 9,000, making it the oldest cultivated plant in America). However, long before that time, the fruits of one or more of the 20 or so wild species native to America were consumed, and even today, the natives still harvest these small wild berries that they enjoy. as much as those of cultivated species. Through long selection work, the Aztecs obtained, from the petit piquin , ancestor of all peppers, a multitude of varieties with a wide range of sizes, shapes, colors, flavors and intensity.

Christopher Columbus will introduce the pepper to Europe on his return from his first trip to America. The Spaniards, relayed by the Portuguese, then quickly spread it around the world. So much so, that 50 years after the first fruits crossed the Atlantic, it was cultivated on all the coasts of Africa, India, tropical Asia, southwest China, as well as in the Middle East, the Balkans, Central Europe and Italy.

Unlike other members of the nightshade family (tomato, eggplant, potato), which inspired suspicion at the time of their introduction, chilli will immediately be incorporated into local cuisines, largely because it is a solution then. an affordable alternative to pepper, an outrageously expensive spice whose culinary virtues we have learned to appreciate and which cannot be done without.

The latest addition to spices, chili is today the one consumed the most in the world, although unevenly depending on the country. Thus, outside the Balkans and Turkey, Europeans will disregard the pungent varieties, too powerful for their sensitive palates, preferring the sweet paprika and a few local varieties which they use sparingly. It is in hot regions – India, Thailand, Mexico, North Africa, South America, the Caribbean – that the hot pepper will make the most followers, probably because of its antibacterial properties and, paradoxically, because it provides a pleasant feeling of freshness once the effect of its “fire” is extinguished.

In recent years, North Americans have developed a real craze for chili peppers, under the influence of the Spanish-speaking population of the southwest. The range of products offered is growing each year: sauces, jellies and jams, beer and vodka, sorbets, ice cream and fine chocolates. Sales of chili-based sauces are now supplanting those of ketchup, which was for a long time the most popular condiment on the continent.

Culinary uses

Choose well

Dry or whole peppers are often wrinkled which is normal. Choose brightly colored peppers with a shiny peel without spots or soft spots. If you buy dried peppers, they should give off a good aroma. Do not hesitate to feel them.


– Wear rubber gloves when working with hot peppers and avoid touching your face, lips and eyes.

– As capsaicin is very volatile, chili peppers can make you cry just by handling it.

– In the event of contact with the skin, soap the mans and rinse with hot water.

– Seeds and white lower membranes are the pungent. Avoid consuming these parts if you want to reduce the hot taste of the peppers. Alternatively, you can also soak them in cold water with vinegar for an hour.

Culinary preparations

As their flavor develops during cooking, it should be added to dishes in small doses.

Pro tip: Sauté a chili in oil and then use this oil to cook. The flavor of the pepper will be there but in a less explosive way.

Tasting chili peppers
It is not just the virulence of chilli that attracts fans. For him, this vegetable-spice is tasted like a good wine and comes in a multitude of flavors. Thus, once the fire effect has passed, it leaves a sweet, chocolatey, fruity or smoky flavor in the mouth, depending on whether it is ancho , mulato , mirasol or chipotle . As for the habanero , the most spicy of all, it is also considered to be one of the tastiest, with a pleasant smoked apricot flavor. Note that although capsaicin (hot principle of chili) is about eight times more potent than piperine in pepper, it inhibits only the sour and bitter flavors, while the other indiscriminately inhibits them all.

Being more of a condiment than a vegetable, it is dried, marinated or cooked and mashed.

  • Chili con carne  : initially made from a mixture of peppers and coarsely ground beef with a knife, today it is composed of peppers, onions, red beans, tomatoes and ground beef, simmered for a long time together.
  • Salsa  : peppers, tomatoes, chopped onions, fresh cilantro and garlic, all drizzled with a squeeze of lime. All fruits are also suitable for salsa. The salsa cruda is prepared with tomatillos, green tomatoes and onions in equal shares, and chili jalapeno , fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lemon. Chop all the ingredients finely.
  • In China, a mash of red peppers is prepared with salt and oil called öt , which is subsequently added to many dishes.
  • In Italy, a salsa verde is prepared , made with garlic, breadcrumbs, hard-boiled eggs, anchovy paste, capers, olive oil, chili, parsley and black pepper. This sauce enhances boiled, braised or grilled meats.
  • In jellies and jams, alone or with other fruits: spread the jelly on a piece of bread or cover a piece of Brie cheese and bake for 20 minutes at 175 ºC (350 ° F). Jams can be used to glaze grilled meat.
  • Stuff cherry peppers or jalapenos with cottage cheese or feta, tuna mousse, anchovies, or a mixture of prosciutto and provolone. To keep them firm, marinate them first in a vinegar solution. They can be stored for a few days in the refrigerator in olive oil seasoned with fine herbs.
  • Sambals  : Indonesian-style sauces made from various fresh peppers mixed with soy sauce, dried coconut, shrimp paste, tomatoes and minced dried shrimp. Coarsely crush the ingredients together in a mortar.
  • Mole  : a great classic of Mexican cuisine, this is a sauce made from peppers that accompanies poultry, usually turkey. There are dozens of variations, but the most famous is composed of chopped onions, bitter chocolate (or cocoa), tomatoes, spices (coriander, cinnamon, cloves), almonds, seeds. of sesame, raisins and three types of dried peppers, pasilla , ancho and mulato . You can replace these peppers with other varieties, and the turkey with chicken.
  • Rellenos  : cook meat in water, then pass it in a blender with onions, garlic, spices, salt, pepper and broth. Cook until thick, stuff an Anaheim or New Mexico type pepper with it, bread and deep fry.
  • Pico de gallo  : this sauce traditionally accompanies fruit salads, but it can be served on fajitas, tacos, seafood or any other dish of its inspiration. We can also add it to scrambled eggs to make an authentic dish of huevos a la Mexicana . Chop tomatoes, sweet onions, fresh coriander and serrano peppers. Add lemon (except when cooking with eggs), mix and salt.
  • Harissa  : grind peppers that have soaked for half an hour in water and add garlic, coriander, caraway and cumin and add a sauce with olive oil. To serve, dilute a tip in a ladle filled with the cooking liquid from the meat and vegetables and drizzle over the couscous.
  • Replace the mustard with Espelette pepper in the preparation of the mayonnaise . Or prepare a rouille to accompany the bouillabaisse by crushing together two small peppers, eight cloves of garlic, a few fish livers and a potato or a slice of bread soaked in the bouillabaisse and expressed in its juice. Whisk in mayonnaise with olive oil and season with salt.
  • Dare the chili in ice creams and sorbets . In small amounts, it has the effect of bringing out the flavor of other ingredients, much like black pepper does in a dish of fresh strawberries. Try the mango sorbet, seasoned with marjoram and jalapeño .

Finally, the pepper is found in various preparations:
– in curries , with or without coconut milk;
– in ceviche ;
– apples, plums and peppers go well together in a stuffing for poultry;
– in kim chee , a Korean condiment made from chilli and pickled cabbage;
– in goulash  : this Hungarian national dish cannot do without paprika;
– in chocolate truffles or hot chocolate , as was commonly done in the time of the Aztecs.


Fresh peppers will keep for a week in the refrigerator in a paper bag placed in the crisper.

Peppers of fine-fleshed varieties are easily dried in the sun, in a dehydrator, or simply hung near a heat source.

It is preferable to freeze those of the varieties with thick flesh. You can either roast and peel them first, or put them directly in the freezer on a baking sheet; once frozen, they will be enclosed in a hermetically sealed plastic bag. Consume within six months.

We can marinated in vinegar brine.

Organic gardening

  • Sow the seeds indoors 8 to 12 weeks before the last expected frost. Throughout germination, which can take 12 to 21 days, maintain the temperature between 21 and 26  o C.
  • Before transplanting, harden the plants by gradually exposing them to outdoor temperatures (this stage should take 10 to 14 days). Plant them in a sunny spot at a spacing of 30 to 45 cm in the row and 70 to 90 cm between the rows.
  • Fertilization  : put a good quantity of compost in the hole intended to receive the plant.
  • pH  : from 6 to 7.
  • Irrigation  : about 5 cm of water per week. Always keep the soil moist without soaking it, to minimize the risk of blossom-end rot, a disease encouraged by irregular irrigation. Mulch the soil when it is well warmed.

Protect plants if nighttime temperatures drop below  15o C.

Ecology and environment

Chili has been successfully tested as a repellant against barnacles, crustaceans that attach themselves to and damage the hulls of ships, as well as against mice that gnaw underground power cables, and squirrels that steal from bird feeders. seeds for birds. In the garden, it can keep deer and rabbits away. Various insecticidal products are also manufactured from it that are safe for the environment. Additionally, among their many uses, paprika and paprika oleoresin are used to revive the color of flamingos as well as koi fish.

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