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Friday, February 20, 2009
The habanero chile (Capsicum chinense Jacquin) (sometimes incorrectly spelled "habañero") is one of the most intensely spicy species of chili peppers of the Capsicum genus. Unripe habaneros are green, and they color as they mature. Common colors are orange and red, but white, brown, and pink are also seen. Typically a ripe habanero is 2–6 centimeters (1–2½ in) long.
Like all Capsicum, the habanero pepper originated in Meso- or South America, most likely the Yucatán Peninsula and its coastal regions. Upon its discovery by Europeans, it was rapidly disseminated to other adequate climate areas of the world, to the point that 18th-century taxonomists mistook China for its place of origin and called it "capsicum chinense"—the Chinese pepper. In more recent times, and after research, it is believed to have originated in the Mexican state of Yucatán.
The chili's name is derived from the name of the Cuban city of La Habana, which is known as Havana in English. Although it is not the place of origin, it was frequently traded there.
Today, the crop is most widely cultivated in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. Other modern producers include Belize, Panama, Costa Rica, and some United States states including Texas, Idaho, and California. While Mexico is the largest consumer of this spicy ingredient, its flavor and aroma have become increasingly popular all over the world.
Habaneros are an integral part of Yucatecan food. Habanero chilies accompany most dishes in Yucatán, either in solid or purée/salsa form.
The Scotch bonnet is often compared to the habanero since they are two varieties of the same species but have different pod types. Both the Scotch bonnet and the habanero have the characteristic thin, waxy flesh. They have a similar heat level and flavor. Although both varieties average around the same level of heat, the actual degree of "heat" varies greatly with genetics, growing methods, climate, and plant stress.
Recently, the habanero's heat, its fruity, citrus-like flavor, and its floral aroma have made it a popular ingredient in hot sauces and spicy foods. In some cases, particularly in Mexico, habaneros are placed in tequila or mezcal bottles for a period ranging from several days, to several weeks, in order to make a spiced version of the drink.
Babak Hakimian (England) owns the world record for eating the most habanero chillis in one minute, setting the record at 314. This was verified by a Guinness World Record's adjudicator on 23 January 2008.
Habaneros thrive in hot weather. As with all peppers, the habanero does well in an area with good morning sun and in soil with an acidity level around 5-6 pH. The habanero should be watered only when dry. Overly moist soil and roots will produce bitter-tasting peppers.
Habanero bushes are good candidates for a container garden. They can live many years in pots or other growing containers at proper temperature.
The habanero is a perennial flowering plant, meaning that with proper care and growing conditions, it can produce flowers (and thus fruit) for many years. However, in temperate climates it is treated as an annual when planted in the ground, dying each winter and being replaced the next spring. In tropical and sub-tropical regions, the habanero, like other chiles, will produce year round. As long as conditions are favorable, the plant will set fruit continuously.
Black Habanero Black Habanero
is an alternative name often used to describe the dark brown variety of Habanero chillies. Seeds have been found that are thought to be over 7000 years old. It has an exotic and unusual taste. Small slivers used in cooking can have a dramatic effect on the over-all dish. Gourmets delight in its fiery heat and unusual flavour.
They take considerably longer to grow than other Habanero chilli varieties but are considered by many to be worth the wait. In a dried form they can be preserved for long periods of time and can be reconstituted in water then added to sauce mixes. Previously known as Habanero Negra, or by their Nahuatl Indian name, they were translated into English by spice traders in the 19th century as "Black Habanero". The word "Chocolate" was derived from the Nahuatl Indian word, "xocolatl", and was used in the description as well, but it proved to be unpronounceable to the British traders, so it was simply named "Black Habanero".