Peppers – they are stuffed, diced, dried, and sliced. And they come in a number of different colors, sizes, shapes, and degrees of flavor and heat (spiciness). There are many different types of peppers, each offering something special and unique to both your palette and your plate. There are many kinds of peppers. Several popular ones are important players in a number of dishes.
Before discussing the different types of peppers, it is important to understand the Scoville scale. The Scoville scale measures the hotness – the spiciness – of different types of peppers. The scale goes from “0” to “10.” “0” is the least spicy peppers, “10” is the spiciest. Scoville units are found within each of these ratings. The higher the Scoville unit rating, the spicier the pepper. Among the least spicy of the pepper family is a sweet bell, at less than 100 Scoville units. The spiciest peppers include the Red Savina Habanero and Indian Tezpur – each rating at a “10” and containing at least 350,000 Scoville units.
Different Types of Peppers
With an understanding of the Scoville scale, it becomes easier to distinguish the different types of peppers not just by name, size, and color, but also by how spicy they are. In fact, peppers are usually classified by how hot they are.
Peppers are generally categorized as either sweet or hot. A third category, mildly hot, is commonly used.
Sweet peppers include bell peppers. Bell peppers are the big, round peppers used in a variety of meals. Bell peppers are classified as sweet peppers, but they don’t all taste sweet. Bell peppers can change colors, and taste sweeter as their colors turn into yellow, orange, and red. Bell peppers are generally so sweet, they actually rank in at 0 Scoville units.
Pimento peppers are another kind of sweet pepper, though at 500 Scoville units, they rate higher than do bell peppers.
Mildly hot peppers include the Jalapeno, colored red or green. Many people seem to think that Jalapenos are very hot – and some even think they are among the hottest peppers. But as can be seen, Jalapenos are not at all among the hottest peppers, and fall into the 2,000-8,000 Scoville units range – hotter than a bell pepper, but not nearly as hot as the hottest peppers!
Another popular pepper considered mildly hot is the Anaheim pepper. Anaheim peppers average about 5,000 Scoville units (where many Jalapenos rank). At 6 to 10 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide, and angled to a point at the bottom, Anaheim peppers may look somewhat carrot-shaped. Anaheim peppers are admired by many for their appearance and can often turn up among decorations and ornaments for some celebrations.
Hot peppers are in a class unto themselves. Several of the popular peppers are considered hot, including Cayenne and Tabasco, ranging at 25,000-50,000 and 30,000-60,000 Scoville units, respectively. Serrano peppers may be mistaken for Jalapenos by appearance, but at 10,000-25,000 Scoville units, they certainly don’t taste as mild as the Jalapeno.
The Habanero pepper, as mentioned earlier, is among the very hottest of the hot peppers, and actually ranks up to ten times hotter than the Tabasco pepper; the Tabasco pepper, by the way, is commonly encountered day-to-day, perhaps most notably in a popular hot sauce of the same name.
While there are many other peppers to be named, the list above gives a good idea as to the diversity to be found among peppers. Ranging in size, shape, color, and heat intensity, peppers are one of the most dynamic types of vegetables available.