Hot Cayenne Pepper: At a Glance
Hot cayenne pepper is made from the dried and ground fruit of the chili plant. It is readily available and popular in the Americas and Europe. The moderately hot chili is typically used to flavor savory dishes. It can also be found combined with chocolate in some desserts.
Cayenne pepper is called “pure chili powder” in some countries. This should not be confused with the commercial chili powder that is sold in the United States, which is often a blend of spices, including garlic and cumin.
Cayenne pepper is named for the Cayenne region of French Guiana, its place of origin.
Cooking with Hot Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper has a dusty and lightly aromatic scent and a spicy and rounded bite. It is not the hottest of the chilies, though. It will add a medium level of heat to any dish. As a condiment, hot cayenne pepper can be sprinkled on cheese sauces, eggs, dips, or vegetables for an extra kick.
Our hot cayenne pepper also makes an excellent spice in cooking. It goes well with seafood such as oysters, sardines, scallops, lobsters, or mussels. Cayenne pepper can be added to most main courses to increase their spiciness and enhance their flavor.
A pinch of cayenne can add a fiery bite to your meal. Try cooking with our hot cayenne pepper with any of these recipes:
- Seafood: Cayenne pepper is used with all kinds of seafood, from fish to mussels to crab. Spiced mackerel with horseradish potatoes takes less than an hour to make. It incorporates the bite of cayenne pepper with fresh mackerel and creamy potato salad.
- Tacos: Try healthy adaptations of this traditional southwestern food. Honey sesame fish tacos combines cayenne pepper with sesame oil, honey, soy sauce, molasses, garlic, and chili powder for a unique cooking sauce.
- Chocolate: The combination of spiciness and sweetness gives hot chili pepper truffles quite a kick without overpowering your taste buds. There are only four ingredients in this easy and delicious recipe.
Hot cayenne pepper also has health benefits, particularly for the cardiovascular system. It reduces blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Cultures where significant amounts of cayenne are consumed typically have lower rates of cardiovascular disease.
Hot Cayenne Pepper: History and Origination
Cayenne pepper originated in the Cayenne region of French Guiana, which is located in northwest South America. The name “Cayenne” was derived from a Tupi Indian name.
Since prehistoric times, South America has been home to chilies. During the height of the spice trade, many varieties of chili pepper, including cayenne pepper, were introduced to Portugal and Spain. Christopher Columbus introduced cayenne pepper to Europe as the “Guinea pepper.” The earliest record of cayenne pepper is from 1493, when Columbus and his crew discovered the spice in the Americas.
From Europe, chili plants and their seeds traveled around the world and thrived in many parts of Africa, the Americas, and Asia. In fact, after the spice trade, the only continent that didn’t grow and produce some form of chili was Antarctica.
Cayenne has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Its use has been documented in Ayurvedic, Caribbean, European, Asian, Middle Eastern, American, and modern herbal medicines. It was believed to help ease gastrointestinal problems, including stomach aches and cramps. It was also rubbed onto the skin to treat arthritis and rheumatic pain.
Cultivation of Hot Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is a fine red (or red-brown) powder that is prepared from the seeds of the chili plant. Cayenne chili is also called “bird chili,” and it is a type of Capsicum annuum, the same species as bell peppers, pimentos, and many other peppers.
The chili plant is a perennial plant. It has dense branching stems, green leaves (with purple accents), and small white flowers. It grows to about 2 feet in height. The plant’s smaller and more slender peppers are used to produce cayenne pepper. Normally, the plant is grown as an annual because its production drops after about a year.