Guajillo Chilli Pepper
Aroma- Sour cherry, smokey, notes of tobacco
Taste- Sour, fruity, smokey
Origin and Names
As is common with Mexican chillies the dried and fresh forms of a pepper have different names, the Guajillo Chilli being the dried form of the Mirasol pepper. A vibrant pepper whose name translated from Spanish means “looking at the sun”, likely because of the way the fruit grows in upright clusters rather than hanging down from the plant as in other chillies. The conical peppers are up to 5 inches long and ripen to a vibrant red. The name guajillo traces its origin to the Nahuatl languages of Mesoamerica. The word is derived from a combination of two words; huaxin & -illo. Huaxin is a general term for large tropical trees bearing edible pods and -illo a Spanish diminutive suffix meaning small. A variety of Capsicum annuum, the guajillo is the second most commonly used dried chilli in Mexico, only the ancho being used in greater quantities.
Geography and Cultivation
The mirasol pepper is a landrace of Capsicum annuum, this means it has more genetic and physical variation than cultivars like the Jalapeño which makes the terroir all the more important. The texture and size of the peppers can vary significantly between different locales and cultivars, some being smaller with wrinkled skin and others more elongate and smooth.
Mirasol is widely cultivated across Mexico, particularly in the northern state of Zacatecas.
The plant grows as an annual shrub up to 2 feet in height and is most at home in well drained soils, fertile soils like those commonly found in northern Mexico.
Guajillo chillies have a wide range of uses in Mexican and South American cuisine. Along with the Ancho they are near ubiquitous in Mexican recipes. The ground chilli flakes can be used to add fruity, berry like flavour notes with a mild heat which can help elevate sauces and salsas. It can also be used in dishes such as tacos & fajitas as a marinade for fillings providing a distinctly Mexican flavour.