Serrano Pepper – Tiny but Hot

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Serrano pepper is also a member of the Capsicum family and is capable of making any meal more enjoyable. Although it looks like jalapeno, Serrano is smaller and spicier and is typically used in rural Mexican cuisine.

History and Superstitions

When he discovered America on October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus somehow reached his goal:  to find a shorter way to India in order to open a new market for spices. Along with potatoes and corn, settlers brought to Europe chili peppers and the culinary world has never been the same after that. Their ability to adapt to almost any climate and fascination they exert on people who love fine foods led to the cultivation of these spices all over the world.

Forget about garlic, silver bullets and wooden stakes. Through the centuries, chili peppers were set on fire to keep away vampires and werewolves. The resulting smoke not only kept away the creatures of the night, but also any kind of parasites: cockroaches, flies, rats.

Aztec and Mayan mythologies often mentioned this spice. It came to be used in witchcraft, and in some cultures is considered highly effective against the evil eye.

African-Americans in the southern United States believed that peppers should be planted by a madman if you want to have an abundant harvest. In Eastern Europe, it is believed that curses can be driven away by sprinkling ground chili pepper around the house.

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Short Description

Serrano pepper is native to the highlands of the Mexican states of Puebla and Hidalgo. The name is a reference to the mountains (Sierra) in these regions. On the Scoville scale (the measurement is based on the dilution of chili extract), Serrano peppers are situated somewhere between 10,000 to 25,000 units. They are usually eaten raw and they have a pungent and hot taste, which is stronger than the one of the jalapeno pepper.

The initial color is green, and when they get ripe, the shade becomes yellow, orange or red.

Benefits and Uses

Their hotness is given by a substance called capsaicin which is actually a chemical weapon developed by this pepper to protect it from pests. Beyond the superstitions above, chili peppers are beneficial for respiratory diseases, fast burning fats in the body and for speeding up the metabolism. Serrano pepper can be used in diets as it suppresses appetite.

Some chili species are mainly raised for decorative purposes while other are used for self-defense as capsaicin is the key ingredient in tear sprays.

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Culinary Uses

When eaten raw, people will benefit from the full fiery taste of the Serrano peppers. But they can also be roasted as they become milder by cooking.

If you want to handle these hot peppers you should take some caution. You would probably want to wear gloves to protect your hands from the oil that comes out. It can be extremely irritating. Another good idea is to clean thoroughly all the surfaces that came in contact with the small peppers. If you touch the pepper, wash your hands before reaching them to your eyes or other sensitive area.

You may choose to remove the seeds and the fibrous ribs in order to decrease the heat.

Serrano peppers can be used to marinade meats, fish or even tofu.

Chefs also consider these peppers a great addition to salsas, sauces, and stews.

A good option to preserve Serrano peppers is to roast and then freeze them. This is how to do it:

  • Rinse the peppers and pat them dry.
  • Cut the peppers in halves, lengthwise.
  • Take the seeds off and place the peppers on a roasting pan.
  • Roast for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, transfer to a paper bag and seal it.
  • After 20 minutes, take the peppers off and peel them.
  • Let the peppers cool and then place them on a piece of wax paper in a single layer.
  • Put the paper into the freezer and leave it there for half an hour.
  • After the 30 minutes, take the Serrano peppers and store them in a freezer bag.

You may enjoy them anytime with this preservation method.

About the author

Madalina Voicu