“Oh, it’s so hot!” One could be talking about the temperature outside or inside – your mouth, that is, if you’re a chili fan. And if you like interesting flavors with a little kick, summer-time hot chilies are for you! There are hundreds of hot chili pepper varieties throughout the world but, at our Fruit Stand in the hot San Joaquin Valley, we focus on a few that our customers love. Chief among them – no surprise given our location -- is the Fresno chili.
The Fresno chili is medium-sized pepper similar to the Jalapeño, but with thinner walls. The fruit starts out bright green, changing to orange and red when mature. The plants do well in our dry, warm-to-hot summer temperatures. The green Fresno chilies make good toppings for tacos, tostadas, burgers, sausages and hot dogs. I like to stuff them with jack cheese and broil. The mature red Fresnos provide less flavor, but pack more heat. Those are best for salsas.
We also grow and sell a lot of Anaheim chili, which is milder and larger than the Fresno. Other hot chilies we grow include Serrano, Habañero, Jalapeños, Chili de Arbol and Thai.
According to “Epicurious,” the heat of a pepper is measured using Scoville units, ranging from 0 (think bell peppers) all the way to 3,000,000 (as in the spiciest chili in the world, the Pepper X). The super-hot Habañero can hit 250,000 Scoville Units. Keep in mind that the heat can vary according to climate and vegetation.
If you don’t want all that fire-power, remove the seeds and inner membrane of the chili, but be careful to wash your hands immediately after – or wear gloves while prepping. A glass of milk is a good tool to help cool the burn from a hot chili. Dairy products contain casein, which helps neutralize capsaicin, the chemical that gives chilies their heat.
So, whatever the temperature is outside this summer, kick it up a notch inside by using hot chilies in your cooking!
Liz, her husband Earl, their grown children and their families make up Hudson Farms, a fifth-and sixth-generation family farm in Sanger, CA.