Chili is derived from the term chil given by the Arawak Indians who were the ones that first cultivated it. When Columbus first discovered the chili, he brought it back to Spain where they add the ‘e’ to it. Chili is the oldest spice in the world with archaeological specimens being found that dated to as far back to 7,000 B.C. in New Mexico.
Today, there are many variety of chili peppers including color, degree of spiciness, and shapes. Chili not only add spiciness to the food but it is also rich in antioxidant and rich in vitamin A and C. The anatomy of a chili pepper is comprises of many parts including peduncle, calyx, capsaicin glands, placenta, exocarp, mesocarp, endocarp, seed and apex.
Peduncle is the short branch on top of the pepper that remains when you harvest it from the plant.
Calyx is the green crown on top of the fruit where the penduncle is attach to. It is the remnant of the flower that has already transformed into the fruit. Preserving the calyx can keep the fruit fresher for a longer time.
Capsaicin glands is the central seed stem inside of the pepper that is joined to the placenta near the top. It is located in between the placenta and endocarp. Many people wrongly presumed that the seeds are responsible for producing the capsaicin glands.
Placenta is the round part on top where the seeds are attached to.
Exocarp is the outermost layer of the pepper which comprises the skin.
Mesocarp is the fleshy part under the skin of the pepper which is also called exocarp.
Endocarp is the inner membrane layer that surrounds the seeds.
The seed inside the pepper has low level of moisture but a high level of lecithin. Chili pepper seeds are edible. However, most people will prefer to discard the seeds as they are hard to chew and do not add any spicy flavor to the cooking.
The seeds are hot but they are not the hottest part. The white pith or rib that hold the seeds and the part that connect to the shoulder are believed to be the hottest part. The white pith is about 100 times hotter that the pepper flesh.
Apex is the bottom tip of the pepper fruit. The apex and peduncle are two areas that have the least capsaicin so biting these areas first will be less hotter.
When preparing chili pepper, you may want to wear a pair of glove to prevent the capsaicin oil from coming in contact to your skin. The capsaicin oil in the pepper can burn your skin and cause blistering.
If your skin get burned, you can apply some white vinegar to sooth it. Skin burn can occur especially when you are preparing a pepper with high Scoville scale such as Habanero.