I’ve always liked chile peppers. Some of my most vivid memories involve hot sauce being poured over chips, popcorn, or chile powder over juicy slices of fresh fruits. Even though that was normal to me, my spicy tolerance wasn’t as high as my siblings. I love chile for the flavouring not to make my mouth burn. After many years of practice my heat tolerance has increased and now I can taste flavours in chile peppers that I once found to be hot and nothing more. I’m not a connoisseur, I just love sampling all sorts of chiles.
Today I want to take you along on a chile taste testing. These amazing 6 peppers were gifted to me by my friend and chile grower, John Ford of Ford’s Fiery Foods and Plants. John is quite famous in the chile-head community for producing high quality products and for his great customer care. I can personally tell you that he’s not only friendly but his ground chiles are of fantastic quality! It is my pleasure to know share them with you.
(Disclosure: These chiles were a gift, I have not been compensated for this article. The opinions expressed are solely my own.)
Urfa Biber: 5,000 SHU
Urfa Biber (also know as Isot pepper) comes from the Urfa region of Turkey. It is a very important pepper in Turkish cuisine where it is used in meat and savoury foods. These red peppers ripen into a dark maroon colour, and when harvested are sun-dried during the day then tightly wrapped at night to infuse the dried flesh with the remaining moisture of the pepper.
This pepper has a sweet smell to it that is both interesting and pleasant. It is mild tasting with raisin-like undertones and slight smokiness. These sweet raisin-like characteristic have led to the pepper being used in sweet recipes. (Check out MJ’s Fiery Chocolate Shots recipe.) I found the heat to be mild with a slow build of heat that doesn’t last too long or get too hot. It has a very nice and distinct taste that can easily be incorporated into just about anything.
How I’ve used Urfa Biber: So far I’ve sprinkled it over cottage cheese — yep, that’s right cottage cheese. Additionally I sprinkled it over orange slice, which complimented the tanginess perfectly.
Chipotle: 5,000 SHU
Chipotle peppers are jalapeños that have been allowed to ripen into a bright red colour. They are then picked and placed on metal grills for smoking. The peppers are smoked for several days until they resemble prunes. The result is a medium-hot spicy pepper with deep, rich smoky scents and flavours.
Dried, ground and in adobo sauce, chipotle peppers are a wonderful flavour to incorporate into Mexican, Tex-Mex and fusion dishes. They are one of my favourites! The initial taste is sweet, then smoky then comes the earthy heat. The medium-hot heat is quick and it steadily builds but doesn’t last too long.
How I’ve used ground chipotle pepper: I mixed it with chopped tomatoes, onion and cilantro to make a smoky pico de gallo salsa. You can also mix it with other spices to create a marinade for barbecuing/grilling meats or vegetables. Mix with sour cream or mayonnaise to create a topping or dressing.
Aleppo Peppers: 8,000 SHU
Aleppo peppers are very popular in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. They get their name after the Syrian city of which they are grown in. Additionally they are also grown in Turkey and know there as Pul Biber. The burgundy coloured pods are dried then crushed into flakes or coarsely ground.
The scent of Aleppo is a very mild and pleasant one. I would describe the heat as mild, but many categories it as having medium heat. The taste reminds me of Mexican guajillo chiles. Aleppo is a bit fruity with hints of salt and even cumin-like smokiness. The salt undertones are because it is used in the drying process. The heat is quick and subsides quite quickly too. The flavour and smell is excellent.
How I’ve used Aleppo: I used the flakes to sprinkle over steak for a slight kick. The flakes can also be used just like you would use any other pepper flakes; on pizza, sprinkled over hummus or baba ghanoush, in salads, meats etc.
Murupi Amarela: 100,000 SHU
Murupi Amarela is a pepper that comes from the northern jungles of Brazil, where it is considered to be the most delicious pepper.
It has a savoury lemon scent unlike any other pepper that I’ve ever smelled or tasted. You will also smell that distinct scent that other peppers in the C.chinese family have. The first thing you will taste is citrus flavours; then quickly comes the heat, this pepper is hot! The heat gradually builds to hotter and hotter until your whole mouth feels it. I don’t know if I took too much for the taste test but my mouth was burning for a while. I would say these are as hot as habanero peppers. But even through the heat I could still taste lemony flavours. The taste was delicious but this pepper is one to be careful with.
How I’ve used Murupi Amarela: Because of it’s lemony scents and taste I added it to pico de gallo, which worked great. Additionally I mixed it into Mexican tuna salad for a lemony kick. I think this pepper would work great with chicken or fish. My friend MJ made a delicious dish using this pepper, Spicy Orange Roasted Sweet Potatoes.
The Clavo Red gets it’s name because of it’s angular shape which is reminiscent of and old nail. (Clavo means nail.) Growers consider this to be a very prolific hot pepper to grow.
Upon opening the package I could smell a subtle sweetness and fruity undertones. The smell is quite pleasant and it will even make your mouth water. The taste was really good, a bit difficult to explain but fantastic. The heat builds slowly, for me it started in the front of my tongue then made it’s way towards the back of my mouth. At first it’s like a fruity almost tomato-like taste with a little bit of a bite, then as the heat builds you can taste some fruitiness, the heat continues to build but it isn’t unpleasant. I would describe the heat level as similar to a habanero, which are now one of my favourite chiles.
How I’ve used Clavo Red: I have used this pepper to make some stir-frys. First I heat the oil, then add the peppers and sauté until they begin to blister. Next I add the onion and cook until soft then I add the other ingredients. This pepper is a fantastic ingredient for cooking because it contributes to the flavours with heat but without overpowering other ingredients.
Pimenta de Neyde X Bhut Jolokia: 200,000 SHU
Per John, Pimente de Neyde is crossed with bhut jolokia (also know as ghost pepper) and is a hybrid cross pepper. They are purple/black on the outside and white on the inside, this gives the flakes the salt and pepper look. The pepper is the creation of Grant Hustler, an Australian grower.
If you know anything about chile peppers you know that the ghost pepper is one of the hottest chiles in existence. I was both excited and nervous about trying John’s Pimenta de Neyde X Bhut Jolokia.
The scent is fruity and reminds me of habanero peppers. At first bite you’ll taste sweetness, then a bit fruity, lastly comes the heat. The heat keeps building and building, and even though it’s super spicy it isn’t a bad flavour. My mouth was burning for a while, at one point it felt like my tongue had gone numb. (Lol) I have to admit that though it was super hot (for me) it is a pepper I would love to continue to cook and taste. But I’ll have to be careful with how much of it I use.
How I’ve used Pimenta de Neyde X Bhut Jolokia: Because this pepper is so hot I would suggest using a little bit at a time. I used the ground pepper to rub on fish that I was grilling with lime slices. The results were fantastic! The fish was spicy and citrusy.
Before testing all of the peppers I thought one would stand out as my favourite, but in all honesty they all taste fantastic. If you would like to give any or all of these peppers a try please contact John at 541-221-4317 (he’s located in Oregon) or via email at foodstuff(@)mail2me.com You can buy seeds, plants, peppers, dried peppers and powders. John is used to dealing with special requests too. Additionally check out his website Ford’s Fiery Foods and Plants and Facebook page. Make sure you tell him Nancy sent you!