Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Peter Piper Picked ...

a selection of hot peppers from the 2018 garden
at Metzger Heritage Farm

According to Paul Rozen of the University of Pennsylvania, about a third of the people around the world eat hot peppers every single day. Why? Because they "love the burn."
A quick internet search leads me to believe that Dr. Rozen is an expert on the psychology of food choice.
When we eat hot food, Rozen reports, the brain secretes endorphins (a substance that blocks pain). That sought-after feeling of well-being heightens awareness, helps to block unpleasant thoughts and is what keeps us going back for more.
It follows that one can become "addicted" to the intensity of flavor and once you've become accustomed to the heat, food seems bland without it.
We like to grow an assortment of hot peppers in the garden. This year we added the Sarit Gat to our spice repertoire. It's the long yellow pepper you see in the above picture. This pepper originated in Kosovo and has heat similar to the cayenne pepper.
It is said that drying Chile peppers can increase the relative hotness of the dried pepper by as much as 10 times. Time in the dehydrator increases the rich, sweet flavor characteristics of peppers.
Many of our hot peppers are dehydrated then pulverized in the food processor - a job best accomplished on the back porch to avoid the eye watering, choking surprise that greets an unexpected visitor to the kitchen.
It's become a holiday tradition for our family and friends to find a little jar of hot pepper flakes as a Christmas surprise. One of those little bottles is on its way to Alaska as I write this!

This Caribbean Mix (from Peaceful Valley Organic Seeds)
is a mix of different colors of Habaneros and Scotch Bonnets.
These hot fruits - 1000 times hotter than Jalapeños -
are prized not only for their heat but for their
fruity and smoky flavor.

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