You know the flavour and you’ve heard the name, or at the very least you’ve seen it in the supermarket or on your mum’s spice rack. Cayenne chilli peppers are one of the most commonly powdered chillies you’ll see around. They’re also the most common chilli flake you’ll find in the markets. So when you want a kick up from the average chilli powder, cayenne powder is what you need.
Scoville scale (SHUs)
Claim to Fame
To set the record straight, there is a big difference between regular chilli powder and cayenne. Chilli powder is a blend of spices, varying depending on the make, but will usually include garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, oregano and cumin. So it is not the same as cayenne powder! While the chilli powder will contain powdered cayenne, the blend of other spices minimises its heat. Cayenne pepper in fact, is eight times hotter than chilli powder!
So now that we’ve cleared that up…
How hot exactly is the cayenne pepper?
Cayenne pepper’s measure 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville Heat Units. If you’re a chilli head this is a measly tickle to the tongue. Remember the Carolina Reaper, the hottest chilli on record is more than two million of these scoville units. On the other end of the spectrum, your trusty jalapeños range from 3,500 to 8000 SHUs. To the average palette the cayenne pepper will be spicy hot but not unbearable, so it makes for it a handy pepper to add to nearly any dish.
What is the cayenne pepper?
Before it made its journey to the jar full of powder on your spice rack, it was a 2-5 inch, thin, smooth, bright-red pepper hanging from a shrub in South America. To be more specific, it was found in the country of French Guayana in a city unsurprisingly named Cayenne. With the discovery of South America and its treasures, by the Spanish and Portuguese in the 15th century, Cayenne was spread through the rest of the world and today is regularly used by people from all backgrounds.
How can you use cayenne?
This versatile spice will pop up in all types of foods, from desserts, to meals, to sweet and savoury snacks. You might be surprised how often it’s used.
Of course you’ll find it used in Mexican cuisine, from hot enchilada mixtures to spicy bean purees. Then there’s the various Indian curries or simple marinades. But you can really go to town with the spice. Consider throwing it over a tomato and onion salad, through an omelette, sprinkled onto some popcorn for a spicy snack, added to a cheesy pasty dish or even blended into a smoothie. Yes, a simple fruit smoothie with a touch of cayenne can go a long way.
Cayenne is your daily dose of vitamins.
Seeing how it’s so easy to add cayenne to your daily diet, we’ll give you the reasons why: it’s healthy! Many of these benefits are thanks to the capsaicinoids, found in all chillies and known to increase the metabolism. However, cayenne goes one step further and has its own benefits. Five grams of the pepper will give you half the amount of Vitamin A you need on a daily basis. This will take care of your eyesight and vital organs. The same five grams will also give you ten percent of your daily Vitamin C requirement and eight percent of your daily vitamin E. These vitamins help with blood vessel and cartilage repair as well as cholesterol balance. So adding even a sprinkle of cayenne powder to your dish will go a long way.>
There’s even ways to use cayenne as a cream or capsule to take advantage of its detoxing abilities, skin treatment and alleviation of muscle tension. Just from applying a small amount of cream to the affected area, any pain and irritation will subside. Although, do be careful because too much can burn the hands.
There’s tons of benefits to the cayenne both for food and for flavour. And if you’re big on the healthy nutritional aspect it’s also a great idea to add a touch of apple cider vinegar to the mix.