CHILI PEPPERS, OUR GIFT TO THE WORLD
Christopher Columbus was one of the first Europeans to encounter them in the Caribbean, and called them "peppers" because of their similarity in taste with the Old World black pepper. Chilies were cultivated around the globe after Columbus. Diego Álvarez Chanca, a physician on Columbus' second voyage 1493, brought the first chili peppers to Spain, and wrote about their medicinal effects in 1494. From Mexico, at the time the Spanish colony that controlled commerce with Asia, chili peppers spread rapidly into the Philippines and then to India, China, Korea and Japan. They were incorporated into the local cuisines of Asia and Europe. Some countries like Hungary excelled in their cultivation and today produce the best paprika (dry peppers powder) in the world, a product of local varieties of Peppers.
Capsaicin has been proven as pain killer when used externally on the skin, particularly for joints pain such as arthritis. When ingested capsaicin accelerates the metabolism, it increases the heart's rhythm and makes you feel hot and sweaty all over, this helps you burn some extra calories.
Growing chili peppers is very easy, you have to collect the seeds, carefully if it is a hot pepper, and dry them over a paper towel then spread them over good soil and cover them with a little more soil to avoid birds picking them. In a matter of weeks you will be harvesting chili peppers.
The following links will show the variety of culinary chili peppers:
ENGLISH NAME: Chili pepper, sweet pepper, bell pepper
LOCAL NAMES: Chile, Aji, Malagueta (Brasil)
PRODUCTS: Dried chilies, canned chilies, bottled hot sauces
NUTRIENTS: Chili pepper contain many useful vitamins but most important they are a good source of anti-oxidants to slow aging and the contain capsaicin that accelerates human metabolism and burns extra calories. For a detailed nutritional analysis follow the link: Chili pepper's nutrients
PROCESSING: Peppers are deseeded according to their size and shape. Small ones are better cleaned under a bowl of water, you first remove the stem, submerge it in the water, pierce it with your fingers and scrape the seeds out, these will stay in the water and the peppers can be accumulated in a dry bowl for further cutting. For large peppers you first cut off the top and push out the green stem, then with the knife you cut out the seeded heart and veins, this hollowed pepper can be accumulated for further cutting. For hot peppers the same principles apply but you must use gloves.
STORING: Fresh peppers must be refrigerated for future use, however they usually do not last more than 2 weeks. An option is to dry them by placing them in a warm, dry place, somewhere under the sun can be such a place, overnight in an oven at a minimum temperature can also be used. Another option is to turn the peppers in to a paste to be used as needed in recipes, for this you deseed the pepper then cook them no more than 5 minutes in boiling water, then blend them into paste combining them with salt, a little garlic and just enough oil to allow liquefying them in a blender, the paste should be kept in a glass jar in a cool place.