Fresh peppers are smokin' hot

Posted: Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The dramatic taste and stunning color of fresh peppers is exciting. We enjoy peppers roasted, grilled, baked or sauted, and we particularly like them stuffed.

Large stuffed peppers make a satisfying meal and smaller ones are ideal for a first course or light meal. Peppers can be filled with a variety of meat, cheese or vegetables fillings, and come in flavors that range from mild and sweet to slightly hot and mouth blistering.

The hotness (piquancy) of a pepper is calculated on the "Scoville" scale according to the quantity of "capsaicin" the pepper contains, on a scale from zero to ten. It's the capsaicin, the chemical in peppers, that fire up our nerve endings and makes the pepper palatable, or not.

To give you a frame of reference, sweet peppers, like bell peppers and Cubanelle peppers (under 100 units of heat), scores zero on the Scoville scale, while the searing Habanero pepper (100,000-350,000 units of heat), measures in at a whopping nine, or 10.

Although most of us can recognize the more common peppers, many varieties are not so easily identified, so, if the market where you shop provides a pepper pictorial, check it out.

Scale down, or scale up, peppers are the smokin' hot rock stars of the vegetable kingdom. Like other celebrities, peppers love attention and won't be ignored, and we, the fans, just can't get enough.

Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at

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