Incorporating some of the hottest peppers into your go-to meals might seem a little intimidating, but it’s all about how you go about it. The truth is, adding a little spice can be a great way to put a spin on old favorites and introduce the family to a whole new world of flavor. And your neighborhood Food Town is here to help. Our International Spice Stations are packed with seasonings and dried peppers you don’t see most other places, while our fresh produce is delivered daily! Our international aisles also offer all sorts of tasty treasures. Read on to learn more about gauging just how hot some of the hottest peppers out there are, and how to incorporate them into meals.
Understand the Scoville Scale
The Scoville heat unit (SHU) is a common scale used to indicate just how spicy certain varieties of peppers tend to be. Mild peppers range from 100 to 2,500 SHU, medium ones range from 2,500 to 30,000 SHU and hot peppers span 30,000 to 100,000 SHU. While there will always be some variance — two similar jalapeño peppers can taste quite different, for instance — this gauge is a great place to start when determining which peppers you might incorporate into your next recipe.
Dig into Jalapeño Peppers
The jalapeño has a heat ranking of 2,500 to 8,000 SHU and is a favorite for folks who like their food hot, but also want to enhance flavor. They are great when mixed into breakfast omelets, when used to garnish a taco and are excellent when stuffed, grilled and served up as an appetizer. (Our Favorite Fan Fare Pinterest board offers a great recipe for that one!) This is one versatile pepper you can literally add to almost any dish.
For many pepper lovers, the more heat a meal has, the more fun it is. The serrano chile ranks at 10,000 to 25,000 SHU, meaning it gives the taste buds an added kick. They work well in pico de gallo and salsa verde recipes, but the options aren’t limited there. They can also pair with fruits and work well in salads, providing a little extra oomph!
The term “Thai chile pepper” is a bit misleading, due to the fact that there are about 79 varieties of such peppers — all coming in at different heat levels. You can often spot Thai chile peppers in curry, but they can be a welcome complement to stews and salmon, as well. With an average rating of 50,000 to 100,000 SHU for the bird’s eye Thai chile pepper, the pepper lovers in your family will rejoice at the flavor it adds to their next home-cooked meal.
Habaneros take spicy to a whole ‘nother level, and they aren’t for the faint of heart. Starting at 150,000 SHU, and going up to 350,000 SHU, those who can handle extreme heat will appreciate the full flavor habanero peppers have to offer. These guys work well in sweet recipes like pineapple salsa and maple glazed pork chops, but adding them to margaritas can also elevate your bartending skills and impress your friends.
There are all sorts of other options, too. Ghost chile peppers range from 855,000 to 1,041,427 SHU, while the Carolina reaper ranks between 1,400,000 and 2,200,000 SHU. (For the record, those peppers are best left to those who are fully aware of what they’re getting into — and can handle the hottest of the hot. As for the rest of us? They’d likely have us begging for mercy.)
Of course, when it comes to peppers, there really is something for everyone. Even if you’re not into heat and prefer peppers that are more subtle or sweet, Food Town is sure to meet your pepper needs on every SHU level. (Our Pinterest boards offer great options, too!) We hope you’ll drop by and see us soon, neighbor!
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