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Habanero Peppers

Habanero Peppers

The habanero chile (Capsicum chinense Jacquin) (Spanish, from Havana) is the most intensely spicy chile pepper of the Capsicum genus. Unripe habaneros are green, but the color at maturity varies. Common colors are orange and red, but white, brown, and pink are also seen. Typically a ripe habanero is 2–6 cm (1–2½ in) long.

Habanero Scoville Rating

Most habaneros will rate between 100,000 and 350,000 Scoville units. Several growers have attempted to selectively breed habanero plants to produce hotter, heavier, and larger peppers.

The Red Savina™ pepper is a cultivar of the habanero pepper, and has been tested and certified as the "World's hottest spice" as listed in the Guinness Book of Records.

Although habaneros are believed to have originated in Cuba, it is nonetheless an important part of cuisine in the Yucatán peninsula, where it is often served roasted as a condiment with meals. Approximately 1,500 tons are harvested annually there.

Other producers include Belize, Costa Rica, and some US states including Texas, Idaho, and California. In Cuba, their supposed country of origin, they remain completely unknown.

The Scotch bonnet is often compared to the habanero, as they are two varieties of the same species but have different pod types. Both the Scotch bonnet and the habanero have the characteristic thin, waxy flesh. They have similar heat level and flavour. Although both varieties average around the same level of heat, the actual degree of "heat" varies greatly with genetics, growing methods, climate, and plant stress.

Recently, the habanero's heat, its fruity, citrus-like flavour, and its floral aroma have made it a popular ingredient in hotter hot sauces and spicy foods.

McIlhenny Co. offers a Habanero version of their popular Tabasco sauce at 7,000 to 8,000 Scoville units, making it the spiciest sauce they offer. Other sauces include Dave's Insanity sauce, at 80,000+ Scoville units, which is prepared from capsaicin extracts, and not the pepper itself. Similarly, The Source, from "Original Juan Specialty Foods", is rated at 7,100,000 Scoville units.

The word habanero is sometimes misspelled (and mispronounced) as "habañero", probably via association with jalapeño.

Growing Habaneros

Habaneros thrive in hot weather. However, since peppers belong to the nightshade family, too much sun can be damaging to the leaves and plant. As with all peppers, the habanero does well in an area with good morning sun, in soil with an acidity level around 5-6 pH. The habanero should be watered only when dry. Overly moist soil and roots will produce bitter-tasting peppers.

Habanero bushes are good candidates for a container garden. They can live many years in pots or other growing containers.

The habanero is a perennial flowering plant, meaning that with proper care and growing conditions, it can produce flowers, hence fruit, for many years. However, in temperate climates it's treated as an annual when planted in the ground, dying each winter and being replaced the next spring.

In tropical and sub-tropical regions, the Habanero, like other chiles, will produce year round. As long as conditions are favorable, the plant will set fruit continuously.

View Habanero hot sauce recipes.

Read some Habanero Pepper Facts

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