Cayenne Chilli Pepper

Origin & Names 

The word cayenne is believed to originate in Brazil coming form the Tupi word . 'kyinha' meaning hot pepper. Although the exact origin of this chilli pepper remains unclear, it is certainly native to South and Central America. The cayenne chilli belongs to the Capsicum annum family which along with Capsicum frutescens make up the vast majority of spicy and sweet peppers grown in the world today. It is estimated there as many as 50,000 cultivars of Capscium grown worldwide and the cayenne pepper is one of the most common. 

Geography & Cultivation

Aside from its widespread use in Latin America, the cayenne pepper is also grown widely in Africa, India and South East Asia. The plant itself is a small shrub that grows up to 3 feet tall with the long thin chillies reaching around 10 cm in length. The characteristic cayenne chilli is a deep red colour but green, orange, yellow & purple varieties are also cultivated. In the UK, cayenne chillies are commonly available both as fresh chillies and as also as dried flakes or ground powder. Here at Hill & Vale we use cayenne chillies both from the UK and India. Our chilli powder is ground and processed in India whereas our chilli flakes are grown in Cornwall and dehydrated then ground by us. 

Red cayenne chilli peppers
 

Yellow cayenne chilli peppers

Food & Medicinal Uses

The part of cayenne chillies, or any chilli for that matter, that makes them spicy is called capsaicin. The level of capsaicin in a a chilli determines what score it receives on the Scoville scale. The larger the number the hotter the chilli. Cayenne chillies score somewhere in the region of 30,000 to 50,000. To put this into perspective, it compares to an average of 5,000 for Jalapenos and over 100,000 for Scotch Bonnets. We can say that cayenne chillies have a medium to hot spiciness and are therefore popular for adding heat to any dish from soups to curries to marinades.  

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