The Cayenne pepper is delicious and is often used in many different dishes whilst cooking. It is thin, long, and can be red or green when it comes to color and if you have been to a ‘pizza restaurant’, the chances are you have has the dried, ground version of the spice on your pizza.
We have written this article to tell you a little bit more about the pepper, from its history to its heat measurement, let’s jump in!
What Is A Cayenne Pepper?
Cayenne peppers usually measure around 2-5 inches long and ½ inch in diameter and are often used as a spice. It comes from the nightshade family of plants that are closely related to the bell pepper and jalapenos.
Although it can be green, the pepper is often bright red and as it is used as a spice so often, is usually sold as a powder. We will explore the heat measurement of the pepper later in the article but its Scoville Heat Unit ranges from 30000-50000 SHU.
It is used in a variety of different dishes and different flavorings and you can buy the pepper in different forms in your local supermarket.
You can easily buy the red powder form, but if you buy chili flakes at the store too, these are often made from Cayenne peppers. A lot of hot sauces also rely on cayenne for their spice, especially if the sauce is also made with vinegar.
Where Does The Cayenne Pepper Come From?
The word Cayenne comes from the city of Cayenne which is found in French Guiana. This is where the pepper originates from and where it was first used in food.
As it is used as powder, it tastes great when added to soups, used in sauces or over pizzas, seafood, or meat. You can easily make room for it on the dining room table next to the salt and pepper to spice up any meal.
In the Western Hemisphere, it is one of the most popular peppers used. The spice is made by drying and grinding the pepper or pulping them and baking them into cakes.
These are then ground and used to produce the spice. You can use them fresh and they have been used this way in other forms of cooking, but these are much harder to locate than the powder is.
How To Grow A Cayenne Pepper
Natively, the Cayenne pepper is a sub-tropical to tropical plant yet they can also be grown as annuals if you grow them in temperate climates. They can also be overwintered if they are protected from frost.
Some of the plants when growing like to be kept in the heat with plenty of sunlight and a longer growing season, however, they can react poorly to too much heat, just as they can to too much cold.
You should plant your Cayenne pepper seeds when the temperature is at a minimum of 60 degrees F and in well-drained soil. You should place the seedlings of the plant around 18-24 inches apart and in one row.
Don’t overwater the plants, and as long as you take good care of them, they should be easy enough to grow in your garden.
When Should You Pick Them?
You should pick Cayenne peppers when you notice the skins are relatively waxy and the flesh is firm to touch. If they start to soften, this is a good indication that the pepper has started to rot, and it is too late to pick and use them.
The color needs to be a vibrant red and the pods will measure around 2-5 inches long. You can then pick the peppers when they are green in color and even though the flavor might be grassy, the heat will not be as intense if you prefer a milder flavor. They will usually ripen in 70 days.
Are Cayenne Peppers Spicy?
Cayenne peppers are hot peppers and as we mentioned previously in the article, range around 30000-50000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville Scale. The Scoville Scale is simply the heat unit measurement for peppers and helps people put a heat rating next to each pepper.
30000-50000 Scoville Heat Units mean the pepper is around as hot as a serrano pepper and if you place that alongside a regular jalapeno, this averages around 5000 SHU. The hottest cayenne pepper is around 10 times hotter than this.
Cayenne peppers are also good for you and contain lots of nutritional benefits. They only have 1 gram of fat and 3 grams of carbs, with only 17 calories in 5 grams of Cayenne pepper.
They also have 1.4 grams of fiber and 0.6 grams of protein. They are then loaded with vitamin A, E, B6, C, K, Manganese, Potassium, and Riboflavin.
There have been many studies into the health benefits and medicinal properties of the pepper and studies show that cayenne and other hot pepper can boost your metabolism too.
This can help with weight loss, lower your blood pressure, help curb your appetite, relieve pain, reduce cancer risks, and aid overall digestion.
Moreover, the peppers contain lots of bioflavonoids and these can strengthen blood vessels, as well as make them more elastic and able to adapt and adjust to fluctuations in blood pressure.
As Cayenne peppers are also hot, they can make us sweat and this can cause fluid loss. This will reduce overall blood volume.
If you decide to use Cayenne peppers or other hot peppers for various health reasons, you should always seek help from a medical professional but we can tell you, they can provide a whole range of different health benefits.
These benefits come from the active ingredient, Capsaicin and this is what makes the pepper ‘hot’. Just a teaspoon of Cayenne pepper can aid these benefits.
Types Of Cayenne Peppers
You can get Cayenne peppers in a variety of different kinds. These include:
Golden Cayenne Peppers
The golden color of this pepper makes them a very attractive pepper. They have smooth skin and far fewer wrinkles than the traditional red cayenne pepper. They also grow a lot larger than the red cayenne pepper, up to 6 inches long, yet still have a slim, slightly twisted shape.
Dagger Pod Cayenne Peppers
This type of pepper is a hot Cayenne chili pepper and can grow between 4-5 inches long and ½-¾ inches wide. Like a regular Cayenne pepper, it is long and thin and resembles a dagger that is pendant shaped.
It starts off green before maturing to a vibrant red and produces pods in around 70-80 days.
Carolina Cayenne Peppers
These are similar to the original Cayenne pepper, but the variety is twice as hot and its appearance is slightly wider. It has wrinkled, thin skin and matures to a deep red. It is native to Central and South America and is delicious in marinades, sauces, and salsas.
Cayenne Buist’s Yellow Pepper
As the name suggests, this is a yellow or bright orange pepper and is great in salsa. It is well dehydrated and crushed into a powder to be used in a variety of different seasoning applications. It originated in the United States and can grow up to 4-5 inches in length.
Cayenne Peppers And Cooking
As we mentioned previously in this article, Cayenne pepper is used in lots of different dishes and flavorings, but if you find you have run out of it last minute, there are a few substitutes you can use.
Paprika is one of our favorites to use as a substitute for cayenne pepper and this can easily be found in most grocery stores. It is a chili powder made up of ground chili peppers, mostly paprika pepper.
Although you will get a similar flavor, paprika is a lot milder. Red chili flakes are also often used as substitutes and you can also find these in most grocery stores. These can be served on pizzas and have usually been dried and crushed, not ground.
Chilli powder is often substituted for Cayenne pepper and this consists of a variety of chili peppers that have been dried and ground. Sometimes, these peppers are smoked and this might alter the flavor of your recipe, however.
Finally, you can use Gochugaru, and this is a mixture of red pepper flakes that are found in Korean cooking. It’s made of sun-dried chili peppers and if you’re looking for something with a smoky quality, this could be the one.
Cayenne Pepper Recipes
You can make many different recipes using Cayenne peppers and they make for exciting, spicy food! They can ass a little extra heat and kick to your dish, without blowing your head off.
You can even make your own homemade Cayenne pepper sauce or homemade Cayenne pepper powder.
We hope by reading this article you have gathered a lot more information on the Cayenne pepper and how you might use it in your favorite dishes.
It is spicy, but will not blow your head off and can add a spicy kick to any meal. With so many substitutes, you’re never far away from a similar flavor and we hope you’ll try it soon!