Types of chili

Types of chili

Origin of the chili plant

Chilli is a plant belonging to the solanaceae family of the 'capsicum' genus. It is a cultivation that comes from the Americas but today it is abundantly widespread in almost every country. Chilli pepper has been used as an edible food since ancient times and some testimonies highlight its presence as early as 5000 years ago. The plant was used in Mexico and Peru by the natives of the place and in Europe it seems to have come through Columbus at the end of the 15th century. Chilli has therefore also spread to Africa and Asia where it has proved to be a cheaper spice than the traditional cinnamon or nutmeg. The name peperoncino is thought to derive from the similarity of its flavor to that of pepper, in Latin called 'piper'. In the Native American language, chilli was called 'chilli' and is so called in both Spanish and English.

Characteristics of the chili plant

The chili plant is a 'short-lived' shrub cultivation. It generally appears as a fairly tall bush that can even reach two meters. Usually the height of the plant depends on the type we are going to plant. We then have light green leaves and beautiful flowers composed of 5 or 6 white petals. The berries will instead be green or white at the beginning and then turn a deep red when ripe. Chilli can also be grown in Italy and is often planted in pots. Sowing is generally scheduled between February and March while the fruits will only be produced in late summer. So that they do not lose their properties, the peppers should be used shortly after harvesting but it is also possible to keep them dry, in oil or ground.

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  • Chilli - Capsicum annuum

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  • Chili pepper

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  • Capsicum, Ornamental Pepper - Capsicum annuum

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Types of chili

In nature it is possible to find more than 70 types of chilli, all varieties included in the genus capsicum. Today passionate growers always create new species thanks to crosses between types of chili different. In Italy the most widespread and cultivated type of chilli pepper is undoubtedly the 'capsicum annuum' while the other species are less cultivated. Despite its name, this variety is not an annual but can survive for many years, forming beautiful perennial bushes to keep in pots or in the garden. The berries of this pepper will have a length of 10-15 cm and a color ranging from green to deep red. Very spicy subspecies such as Cayenne, Jalapeño, Tepin, Chilitepin and Pequin also belong to the annuum type. These can be used in the kitchen but also as a floral ornament.

Types of South American chili

The types of chilli peppers most grown in the rest of the world and especially in Mexico are the varieties capsicum chinense, capsicum pubescens, capsicum frutescens and capsicum baccatum. They are all peppers grown in the Americas and have a high degree of spiciness, measured by the Scoville scale. The chinense variety is the one that includes the famous 'habanero', which until 2006 was considered the hottest pepper in the world. This species includes chillies such as Fatalii and Scotch Bonnet, typical of the Caribbean islands and West Africa. The frutescens type, on the other hand, includes the 'tabasco' variety from which the famous Tabasco sauce, a spicy sauce of American production, is obtained. Finally, capsicum baccatum provides peppers that are just as hot as the 'bishop's hat' and the ají amarillo, typical of Peru and Bolivia.

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