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  • Writer's pictureThe Clayton Farm

Why is a chilli called a chilli when it's hot?

Cayenne Hot Pepper, the famously hot and pungent pepper takes its name from a river in Guyana. Most often dried, Cayenne, powdered or flakes, serves as a multi-purpose spice. The South American peppers 4-6" long, 1/2" thin fruits, slightly hotter than jalapenos, have a multitude of uses, whether fresh, canned or pickled; excellent steeped in oil or vinegar for flavorful condiments. Yields are high, so extra peppers may be strung in "ristras" for easy drying. Fruits mature from green to red and are ready to harvest about 80 days from transplant. Aren't these peppers beautiful in the garden?

Spicy food lovers aren’t born with an affinity for hot sauce. Rather, it’s acquired over time, as capsaicin and other spicy food molecules deplete a neurotransmitter called substance P, which is responsible for sending pain signals to the brain. This explains why people from some countries, such as India or Mexico, seem to have a naturally higher tolerance for hot foods, they’ve been eating them from a very young age. When you eat chilies, it releases similar endorphins to a runner’s high. You start to miss a meal that doesn’t have that spice. Once people have become desensitized to the heat, they begin to appreciate other qualities of hot pepper and spicy treats just as much.

Cayenne pepper is widely used in Mexican, Asian, Indian, and Southern cooking, among others. Just a pinch adds a sweet-spicy heat to an entire pot of beans, enchilada sauce, fried chicken, or even mac n’ cheese. It also adds a nice kick to egg dishes and dry-rubs for meat and seafood. You maybe have heat-seeking personalities that you don't know.

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