When selecting peppers for heat, the rule of thumb is the smaller the pepper, the hotter it will be. Because it makes sense to select chili peppers by their pungency rather than their species, we have divided the pepper plants featured on this site by heat — sweet peppers to very hot peppers. (For those of you who are particularly interested in plant identification, we”ve included the species information.) Learn more about each of these groups by clicking on the variety below.
- Sweet Peppers include the bells and range from 0 to 1000 Scoville Units.
- Mild Peppers include the ortega and range from 1000 to 3000 Scoville Units.
- Medium Peppers include the jalapeno and range from 3000 to 6000 Scoville Units.
- Hot Peppers include the serrano and range from 5000 to 100,000 Scoville Units.
- Very Hot Peppers include the habanero and range from 80,000 to 300,000 Scoville Units.
No other group of plants shows as much variety in their fruits as pepper plants:
- Size: The largest and sweetest peppers are the bell peppers, while the smallest and some of the hottest chili peppers are the piquins, measuring in at less than one inch in length!
- Color: The fruits of these colorful vegetables when immature can be white, yellow, light green or purple. Mature peppers are yellow, orange, red, purple, deep green and nearly black. Sometimes all the colors produced by the particular variety will be on the pepper plant at the same time!
- Shape: Some peppers are long and slender, others long and plump, and others round or heart-shaped. Some of the hottest are tiny cones and the mildest are large and blocky.
- Texture: Some are very smooth-skinned while others have a crinkly appearance.
Chili Pepper Nutrition
Chili peppers are cholesterol free, low in sodium and calories, rich in Vitamins A and C, and a good source of folic acid, potassium and Vitamin E.
Anderson, J. (n.d.) Choosing chili peppers. Retrieved September 2, 2009, from the All Recipes Web site: http://allrecipes.com/HowTo/Choosing-Chile-Peppers/Detail.aspx.
Life Plus Vitamins Staff. (n.d.) Chili peppers and nutrition. Retrieved September 2, 2009, from the Life Plus Vitamins Web site: http://www.lifeplusvitamins.com/chili-peppers-vegetables-nutrition.html.