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Habanero chilli is certainly among the most popular and widespread in cultivation among amateurs. Some of its varieties can in fact boast a very high spiciness, others combine this aspect with fruity or spicy aromas that make the use and the combination imaginative and pleasant.
Classification and origin
The small fruits called chillies are produced from the same plant that produces the peppers normally eaten during meals. Simply the latter have been selected for their particular sweetness and for the low or zero presence of capsaicin, the alkaloid responsible for spiciness.
They are all part of the genus Capsicum, which is in turn divided into different species. In cultivation, five are widespread: C. annuum, C. frutescens, C.baccatum, C. pubescens and C. chinense.
The Habanero pepper is indeed a variety of Capsicum chinense: from this derive some of the most spicy cultivars ever. Currently its cultivation is concentrated above all in Mexico, especially in the Yucatban peninsula; according to recent investigations, however, its origins have certainly been South American, in particular in some areas of Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Northern Argentina. Scholars have reconstructed that it was later brought to the Caribbean islands, to Cuba (hence the name of the varieties), where cultivation was soon abandoned. Instead, it was particularly appreciated in the Yucatan, where it is still a leading product today. It is in fact cultivated everywhere, with very different sized and colored fruits that are then mostly consumed fresh becoming an indispensable element of that kitchen.
It is a plant that tends to grow annually: from sowing to fruiting, in the right conditions, about 4 months pass. It can, however, be kept longer, even 12 months or more. The height varies depending on the specific cultivar and the cultivation method from a minimum of 75 cm to a maximum of 120. Il deportment It is erect, but rather massive and enlarged: it often needs (especially when there are fruits) the aid of supports.
He has one semi-determined development: there is a potentially infinite growth of the central stem and some lateral ones. Consequently it is extremely important, once the fruiting has started, to limit its further growth. There will be a smaller number of fruits, though very ripe and of the right size.
The leaves they are simple, smooth and alternate, of lanceolate shape, of variable size and color (depending on the cultivar and the pedoclimatic conditions).
There is a main taproot root, whose length can range from 40 to 120 cm, from which a dense secondary root system develops.
There flowering it begins already when the plant begins to branch: the flowers are white, solitary or in groups and are born in the leaf axils with from five to seven petals. The fruit, a little fleshy berry, usually has the shape of a lantern (even if there are exceptions), long between 2 and 6 cm. The colors are the most varied: from red to orange to light yellow or dark to brown and purple. Inside there are the seeds, round and flat, of light color. In the right conditions they germinate in 8-15 days.
Habanero chilli: variety of habanero
Habanero chilli has enjoyed enormous success in recent years due to its spiciness, aesthetic beauty and relative ease of cultivation. This is why there are a large number of cultivars on the market: they differ mainly in the color of the fruits, the spiciness and any secondary flavors.
Their spiciness, on the Scoville scale, ranges from 200,000 to 300,000 Units, but peaks near to 600,000 have been touched with the famous Red Savina. However, remember that spiciness does not only depend on the specific cultivar: the degree of ripeness, the method of cultivation, the climate and the soil can be decisive.
Here are the most famous:
Habanero Orange; not too tall plant (generally grows up to 70 cm), but very productive. It has a very compact habit that makes it resistant to rain and wind.
The fruits have an elongated lantern, of about 5 cm and an intense orange color. Its flavor is intensely spicy (between 150,000 ~ 325.00 Unit Scoville), but it also has an intensely fruity aroma that goes well with sauces, with fish and with vegetables.
Also called "Habanero bianco del Perщ"; it is a rare, special and pleasant variety. It differs from the others in its conical shape and the light yellow, almost white, color of its fruits. They are also quite small: each one measures about 5 cm in length and 2 in width. The plant is a beautiful thick bush about 45 cm high, of average production. From sowing to maturing the first chillies spend an average of 90 days. Given its small size, it is a cultivar particularly suitable for growing in containers, for amateurs who only have a balcony.
The peppers, to the detriment of the delicate color, are very spicy: they stand at 300,000 Scoville units. They can also boast a delicate smoky aftertaste that goes well with many ethnic sauces.
One of the most famous chillies ever: when it was created the fame of its spiciness spread very quickly. It is still a registered cultivar that can only be reproduced by official retailers.
The individual fruits are of a beautiful bright red and shiny and have a slightly more pointed shape than the other habanero. The plant as a whole is erect and bushy, capable of reaching and exceeding one meter in height (it may need support). It is very resistant to wind and rain, even without the use of supports. If it is grown in the right conditions it is extremely productive: the fruits must be harvested about a week after reaching the final color: this usually occurs about 100 days after sowing. Excessive sun rarely causes leaf burns or fruit bushes.
The taste is clearly very spicy (according to laboratory measurements around 550000 Scoville units), but a sweet and fruity aroma, typical of the pepper, can still be clearly perceived.
Today, there are certainly varieties on the market with a greater concentration of capsaicin (for example, the Naga Morich, or even just the Habanero Orange or the Chocolate), but this retains its charm as well as a taste very balanced and adaptable to various preparations.
Habanero White Bullet
Very similar to the Habanero White, it is however easier to find on the market, suitable for growing in pots and guarantees an even greater production. Every single plant produces 150 to more than 200 chillies and still remains small: the height rarely exceeds 65 cm. It has a rather expanded habit, rich in secondary branches and foliage: for both cultivation in pots and for those in the open ground it is therefore advisable to use guardians (especially if we live in a particularly windy area). The fruits are small, at most 3 cm long, of cream color. They have a slightly fleshy consistency and are therefore suitable for drying, even under the sun, without the development of mold. In this way it can then be stored for a long time as a powder or used to flavor oil. The maximum of its aroma can however be enjoyed only when it is fresh: it goes well with dishes based on fish, in soups or in combination with white meats. Always ideal because it is spicy, but without excessively intrusive aftertaste.
This pepper, also known as Black Congo, has, in recent years, gained a great reputation due to its spiciness, its color and the particular taste that it takes on once dried. The cultivar is native to Jamaica and produces medium-large sized fruits (even 6 cm in length) and with a typical lantern shape. They grow turned downwards: they reach maturity when they take on the typical dark brown color, similar to that of dark chocolate. The plant is resistant and of good size: about 80 cm. It appears quite branched, with sparse but large leaves. In particularly windy areas it may require the use of a guardian. Production is average (from 50 to 100 fruits per plant)
Chillies, although they appear very meaty, can easily be dried in the sun. We select only the most healthy, open them in half and expose them in the hottest hours of the day. Later we will be able to pulverize them: they will release both their spiciness (over 300,000 Scoville units) and the unique chocolate aroma. Particularly suitable for people who love spiciness very much, it goes well with sauces, red meats and fresh neutral cheeses.
|Mostly fresh; in sauces or with meat and vegetables||70 cm||Bright orange, a lantern||150,000 ~ 325.00 SHU||Fruity||Ideal when fresh, it dries easily in the sun|
|Habanero White||45 cm||Ivory. a croissant||300,000 SHU||Delicate, smoky aftertaste||Fresh or dried, sauces, fish, white meat|
|Red Savina||More than 1 m||Shiny red, with a pointed lantern||Up to 575,000 SHU||Fruity and sweet pepper||Fresh or dry, in sauces; very adaptable|
|White Bullet||Up to 65 cm||Croissants up to 3 cm long, ivory||More than 300,000 SHUs||Without aftertaste||Ideal when fresh, it dries easily in the sun|
|Chocolate||About 80 cm||Lantern, up to 6 cm, dark brown||More than 300,000 SHUs||Fruity, dark chocolate to be dried||Fresh or dried. It can be dried in the sun|