CHILI PEPPER

Description

The pepper arrived in Europe in 1493, with the second voyage of Christopher Columbus, who supposedly found it on a Caribbean island. Perennial shrub in its native setting, it is grown as an annual plant in mediterranean climate. The pepper belongs to the Solanacee family such as tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants. To the capsicum genus belong many species both sweet and spicy. The spiciness of the pepper is its most particular characteristic which depends on the presence of a alkaloid substance called capsaicin and four related natural substances found in the fruit. Capsaicin causes spiciness insofar as it stimulates thermo receptors in the mouth and other parts of our body (digestive tract, mucous membranes, etc..). Capsaicin is produced in the upper part of the berry and spreads to other tissues. The largest concentrations are not in the seeds but in the placenta, the white part to which they are attached. The peppers are differentiated by the varying amounts of capsaicin, which is measured empirically according to the Scoville Scale, ranging from 0 to 10 degrees and, quantitatively, in Scoville Units (SU), based on the presence of capsaicin and hydrocapsaicin. In this way, it was determined that the bell pepper has zero Scoville units, while the Habanero, one of the hottest in the world, has 600,000. The record belongs to the Bhut Jolokia, an Indian chili pepper whose SU count is 1,000,000! Over 250,000 SU the burning sensation gives way to feelings of pain. To remedy the painful sensation, one must drink milk or eat yogurt, or even soft cheeses, as the casein present in milk and its derivatives has the ability to agglutinate the capsaicin, removing it from the thermo receptors.

Cultivation

Chili pepper plants can be cultivated as annuals plants in gardens or in pots. They require exposure to full sun with fertile and well-drained soils; the rootage, in fact, cannot stand excessive humidity. In the case of cultivation in pots, in addition to providing sufficiently large containers, it is good to provide for excellent drainage on the bottom, which will consist of expanded clay, above which one will put soil composed of 70% of the organic part and 30% inert material. During the cultivation, irrigation will need to be frequent and such as to avoid symptoms of withering of the plant. With irrigation, every 15 days one can add ternary soluble fertilizers. Considering the use of peppers in cuisine, pesticides of any kind should not be used.