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Chili Peppers 101: How to use them & health facts

Used in a wide variety of cuisines in various forms, chillis can be bought whole, fresh, dried and canned. They can also be jarred in the form of chilli oil, paste, and powder, as well as hot red pepper flakes and ground red pepper, or cayenne. 

Chillis, which come from the fruits of Capsicum pepper plants, are a fantastic way to add zest or season dishes. For those brave enough to risk their tongue-tingling or even eye-watering fiery heat, they also provide lots of health benefits. Watch La Mexicana Chili review playlist here. 

 To choose fresh chilli peppers ensure they are:

  • Vivid, deep colour and glossy
  • Firm and taut skin
  • Hardy stems
  • Have no cracks near the stem end, except for jalapenos. Avoid those that are wrinkled or have soft areas or black spots. 

To choose dried chilli peppers look for ones that are:

  • Vivid in colour as it means they have not lost their flavour
  • Preferably organically grown since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated. 

Tips on how to storage chillies:

  • Place unwashed fresh peppers in paper bags or wrap in paper towels. Avoid plastic bags as this may result in moisture accumulation, which will cause them to spoil quicker.
  • Store in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator
  • Fresh peppers can also be hung in the sunlight to dry. They can then be used to make freshly ground chilli powder.
  • Dried peppers and chilli powders should be kept in a tightly sealed jar, away from sunlight. 
Cooking tips

Handle carefully! 

Capsaicin, the main bioactive plant compound in chilli peppers, can cause a severe burning sensation if it touches your skin or lips, or comes in contact with your eyes.

Wear thin rubber gloves or, if you prefer, simply wash your hands thoroughly after handling.

Additionally, you should wash your knife and cutting board after use. 

To minimize a pepper's heat, remove the seeds and fleshy white inner membranes as this is where the capsaicin primarily resides. Before adding chilli peppers to a recipe, taste a little piece to determine the spice level, so you will know how much to add. Every chilli has its own spice level. 

Check out our selection of specialty chilli’s.

Chili Peppers 101:  How to use them & health facts