If you’re a hot pepper enthusiast, you’re probably familiar with the habanero. As one of the oldest and most popular varieties of chilies, it’s a favorite among heat lovers. Let’s take a closer look at the habanero and find out what makes it so special!
How to Recognize a Habanero
Today, there are eighteen known varieties of the habanero. You can find the habanero in a variety of colors, including red, orange, yellow, white, pink, purple, and brown (chocolate). Although there’s some variation in flavor and heat level, each color of pepper packs a powerful punch. White and green peppers are milder, while red and orange are the spiciest habaneros. Red and orange are also the most common varieties. Habaneros are covered in thin, smooth skin that has a waxy texture. Many habaneros have vertical ridges that stretch from top to bottom.
Sometimes habaneros are mistaken for Scotch bonnets, which is understandable since they’re both members of the same species, the capsicum
Habaneros have a pleasant, crisp texture. They are also overflowing with flavor. Despite the extreme heat, you’ll also taste some sweetness with hints of floral and fruity notes when eating a habanero. They pair well with sweet fruits like mangos that help counter the habanero’s spice level.
You can find habaneros in hot sauces, marinades, salsas, jerk seasonings, and more. In Mexico, it’s common to find the peppers in bottles of tequila or mescal to add an extra kick to drinks. Always be cautious when handling and cooking with them. Thoroughly wash your hands after handling these peppers or wear gloves for extra protection. If you ever want to tone down the heat, discard the seeds. Simply cooking the pepper also tends to make the spice more manageable. But if it’s too late and your mouth is already burning, drinking milk or eating any dairy product is the most effective way to extinguish its fiery wrath.
How Hot are Habanero Peppers?
The peppers range from 100,000 to 500,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The higher the number of SHU, the hotter the pepper. This number indicates the number of times that chili oil from a specific pepper needed to be diluted with sugar water until they could no longer detect any heat. Wilbur Scoville invented this test over a hundred years ago. If you would like to learn more about the Scoville Scoville Scale be sure to check out our Complete Guide to the Scoville Scale by clicking here.
Although the burn is intense, you won’t experience it for very long. Generally, habanero chilies are grouped among the hottest chili pepper varieties, but it’s toward the bottom of that group. Several hot peppers measure double, triple, or more units on the Scoville scale. Red Savina is the hottest of all habanero peppers measuring 500,000 SHU. This plant originated in the United States. Frank Garcia grew the first-ever Red Savina in Walnut, California.
Generally, the Habaneros you grow yourself pack more of a punch than the ones you can find at the grocery store. If you crave the extreme heat of the habanero, wait as long as possible to pick them. As the pepper changes to darker and deeper colors, its heats will also increase.
Where to Find Habaneros Peppers
The habanero has had a long and complicated journey that has taken it all over the world. This pepper’s name translates to “from Havana” The proper Cuban name for Havana is actually La Habana. Not only are habaneros commonly found in Mexican cuisine, but they are also commonly grown in Mexico. You can find more habaneros growing in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula than in any other part of the world. Which is exactly where we grow Sonoran Spice Habanero Peppers.
At one point, people thought that the pepper came from China, but now it’s more commonly thought to have first grown in the Amazon. Archaeologists discovered a habanero from 6,500 B.C. Habaneros are common in other hot climates such as Costa Rica, Panama, Belize, and even warmer parts of the United States like Texas and California. Some habaneros also grow in the Caribbean. The Portuguese had their first experience with habaneros after Columbus visited the Caribbean islands toward the end of the 15th century. Eventually, the pepper migrated to Africa.
How to Grow Habaneros Peppers
There’s so much demand for habanero peppers that farmers have begun to grow them using hydroponics, allowing them to grow much more quickly and in a smaller, less-spread-out space. When habaneros are more traditionally grown, they should be placed in acidic soil for the best results. Even though the habanero needs to grow in a warm climate, too much sun can damage the peppers.
You should plant your habanero seeds only about a half-inch deep, and each seed should be about eighteen inches apart. Approximately six weeks after you’ve planted your seeds, you can start fertilizing them with nitrogen. Only use about one-fourth tablespoon per plant in the soil six inches away from the plants. Most habanero plants grow to be four or feet tall, but some can grow as high as seven feet tall! Habaneros should always be picked before colder weather sets in.
Habanero Pepper Health Benefits
Studies have shown that spicy food lovers tend to live longer than those who avoid hot foods. So not only are habaneros delicious, but they are also extremely beneficial for your health. Habaneros are a Vitamin C powerhouse! You can get 100% of your daily intake from just one habanero—that’s more Vitamin C than you get from eating an orange! There’s also a healthy amount of Vitamin A. This combination of vitamins can help you fight cancer. With only a few calories and very little fat, habaneros have few downsides.
Like all hot peppers, habaneros get their spiciness from capsaicin. Capsaicin has several health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and immunity-boosting properties. It also raises your metabolism, which makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight. Habaneros help keep your blood pressure and cholesterol down.
Hot peppers like the habanero can also make you happy! Capsaicin triggers the release of endorphins and dopamine. Endorphins are your body’s natural pain relievers, while dopamine is a neurotransmitter that, among other things, makes you feel happy. This is why eating hot foods can feel addictively good sometimes!
Every year, more and more people jump on the spicy food bandwagon. The culinary world is becoming increasingly creative with ways of making food that’s delicious and super spicy at the same time. And even after thousands of years, the habanero is still a favorite! It’s one of the few extremely hot peppers that’s easily accessible at a regular grocery store.
There’s nothing better a habanero! Whether you’re interested in the health benefits, the flavor, or its extreme heat, this hot pepper exceeds expectations.
The popularity of Habanero Peppers Over Time
What do these trends reveal? Habanero peppers trend higher during the late Summer months corresponding to around the time harvest is occurring. They begin showing up more commonly in grocery stores and online around this time since they are readily available. The opposite is true during the winter after the last harvests of the year which usually occur in late September and early October.
Make Your Own Habanero Pepper Hot Sauce
Looking to make your own habanero hot sauce? Try this recipe from Taste of Home:
Or try this homemade hot sauce recipe from A Virtual Vegan:
Charred Habanero Oil Recipe on Food52
10 Things You Can Do with A Large Habanero Pepper Harvest
Where Can I Buy Habanero Peppers?
We have everything from habanero powder and flakes to spicy candies, hot sauces, spicy beef jerky, keychains filled with habanero and more!
daily vitamin c intake
THE TALE OF TWO PEPPERS: SCOTCH BONNET AND HABENERO: http://bostonjerkfest.com/the-tale-of-two-peppers-what-makes-the-scotch-bonnet-different-from-the-habenero/
Red Savina Habanero: Legendary Heat:
Sonoran Spice Habanero Peppers: https://www.sonoranspice.com/collections/habanero-products
5 Things You Might Not Know About the Super Hot Habanero Pepper:
Health Benefits Eating Habanero Peppers:
Growing Habanero Peppers:
15 Awesome Things To Do In Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula
4 Health Benefits of Eating Habanero Peppers: