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Cayenne

Capsicum annuum

Herbs gallery - Cayenne



Common names

  • Capsaicin
  • Capsicum
  • Cayenne
  • Chili Pepper

The famous spice called the cayenne is a type of pepper species that is native to tropical America. The cayenne is a perennial herb when grown in natural conditions in tropical areas of the world, however, it can also be cultivated as an annual plant in areas outside the tropical zone - the cultivation of this plant is carried out as an intense commercial activity in many tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. The cayenne is characterized by having a glabrous stem, the stem is woody at the bottom and branched near the top, the cayenne can reach a height of three feet or more when fully mature. The cayenne also has ovate to lanceolate shaped leaves, the leaves are entire and bear a petiole. Between the months of April to September, the plant bears white to yellow colored flowers which can grow singly or even in pairs of three each. The source of the commercial cayenne is the ripe fruit, this fruit is a multi seeded pod or pepper which is characterized by having an external covering which is leathery; it comes in various shades from red to yellow. Commercial chili comes in many varieties and forms, the more famous ones are from areas around California, they are the jalapeno, the serrano and the yellow wax. All chili varieties have the hot tasting and fiery property because of the presence of a chemical compound called capsaicin in the fruiting body. The hotness of different chilies can be measured and scored by the units devised early in the 20th century by Wilbur Scoville, a pharmacist, the scoring of capsaicin content in different chilies is carried out in units called Scoville Units - these measure the comparative hotness of different chilies. The majority of all the commercial peppers available in the market today come in a “hotness” range from a negligible zero to 300,000 Scoville Units according to this measurement. The commonly used culinary pepper, the green bell peppers have no scoville rating and at zero due to the absence of capsaicinoids in the fruiting body. The famous jalapenos pepper are considered to be fiery and come at a scoville rating between 2,500 to 5,000, the hottest Tabasco peppers and the different varieties of cayenne have scoville ratings from 30,000 units all the way to 50,000 scoville units. Topping the Scoville scale at a scorching 300,000 each are the Scotch Bonnet pepper from the Caribbean and the pepper called the Habanero from the Mexican area of Yucatan. The scoville unit has been replaced these days by a new hotness system, known as the Official Chili Heat Scale, that has a hotness rating for chilies from 0 to 10-simplifying the rating of chilies to some degree. In this new hotness scale, a rating of zero is still applied to the bell peppers - which are at the bottom of the rating due to the absence of capsaicin, a rating of 5 is given to the jalapenos peppers, a rating of 8 is given to the Tabasco and cayenne peppers, and the hottest rating of 10 is given to the Scotch Bonnet and Habanero peppers.

As mentioned before, the chemical compound called capsaicin is the main active ingredient in cayenne and all other chili peppers - this compound is responsible for the “hotness” associated with chilies. The presence of this compound is responsible for the fiery kick present in Mexican food, the capsaicin is responsible for turning the plain pickle juice into the sauce known as Tabasco, the capsaicin is the active compound that turns ginger ale into such a real thirst quencher, the strong flavors and spiciness of Cajun cuisine depends on the capsaicin of all the peppers used in cooking, capsaicin is what makes the famous curry powder such an ubiquitous and interesting general spice for a variety of cooking styles. The main action of the compound capsaicin lies mainly in its ability to initially stimulate the hypothalamus and then to actively desensitize the warmth detectors in the hypothalamic region - when the compound achieves both of these actions, it brings on a significant drop in the temperature of the body temperature. This ability of the capsaicin to drop elevated body temperatures is the main factor which allows natives in many hot southern climates such as the tropical countries in Central and South America and Africa, to tolerate the excessive heat in those regions a lot better than a native of a temperate region would be able to. The amazing fact is that the reason for the heavy consumption of capsicum and chili peppers in tropical areas as an aid to keeping cool, this may sound incredible but it is a well known fact.

Chemically, the molecular structure of the capsaicin compound is very similar to the structure of vanilla; however, the thermal rating of capsaicin is metaphorically speaking as hot as the molten hinges on the gates of hell itself. The ability of the cayenne pepper to boost up the body's metabolic rate has been suggested by the results of some of the more recent European studies, these studies also point out that the vitamin C levels in the body may also be boosted up by adding cayenne peppers to the daily meal. By an as yet unidentified pathway, the capsaicin is believed to be capable of revving up and "resetting" the body's "fat thermostats" controlled by tissues simply called "brown fat", this beneficial action allows the body to burn off excess fat through the act of metabolic chemical combustion, and avoids the storing of fat alongside the muscular tissues.

Capsaicin based topical herbal creams can be used to gain temporary relief from the pain of minor aches and the symptomatic muscles' pains and joints related to long term arthritis, these can also be used as an external treatment in the case of a simple backache, and in treating strains and sprains of all kinds. These topical creams can be used safety by all adults and by children two years of age or older. Ideally, the topical herbal cream must be applied to the affected areas of the body regularly and on a daily basis, not exceeding four times a day per session. On the initial use of the topical capsaicin treatment, there may be some transient burning sensation along the affected area, these usually abate over the course of several days and full relief is gained in no time at all. Daily application is required to gain optimal relief from symptoms, and the treatment should be used continuously, with application sessions three to four times daily as long as the symptoms persist.

Some precautionary measures to be followed: handle the capsaicin topical cream with care and wash your hands carefully using a lot of soap and water, following application of the cream. Care should be taken during application of the cream and not to rub the cream on broken skin or along existing rashes on the skin. The cream must be kept away from the eyes and must not be used in conjunction with a topical heating pad.

Stuffed peppers

  • 8 large sweet peppers
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and slivered
  • 3/4 lb. ground lamb
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp. thyme
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 2 tsp. fresh basil, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°.
Wash, core, and seed the peppers, and cut off the tops. Boil the peppers and tops rapidly in water to cover, for 5 minutes. Drain well.
In a large skillet, heat the oil and sauté the onions until lightly browned. Add the meat and brown, stirring constantly. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper to taste, bay leaf, and thyme. Cook until the tomatoes are pulpy, but not dry. Add the cooked rice, and mix well. Remove from the heat.
Stuff the peppers with the rice mixture, and replace the caps. Place in an oiled baking dish, and bake 10 to 20 minutes - 20 if the peppers are very thick. During the last few minutes of cooking time, heat the tomato sauce, melt the butter into it, season with fresh basil, and pour over the peppers before serving.
Serves 6 to 8.

Hot mexican chili with peppers

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet peppers
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 cups cooked kidney beans
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 6 hot peppers
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh oregano, or 1 tsp. dried
  • Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a heavy kettle, and sauté the onions, sweet peppers, and garlic, until the onions are transparent, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the kidney beans, and simmer while you seed and chop the hot peppers. Add the ground meat, chili peppers, tomato sauce, oregano, and salt to taste. Mash the beans into the liquid to thicken it. When the meat is cooked, turn off the heat and let the dish stand for an hour before serving.
Serves 6.

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Comments

From Cayenne Lover
I use cayenne pepper from everything dealing with common colds, arthritis and diarrhea. Cayenne is truly the miracle herb.
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