A variety of peppers

10 Spicy Facts about Chili Peppers

Anyone who enjoys a spicy dish or two will likely have tasted many a chili pepper! These delicious yet tongue-tingling treats are delicious as part of traditional curries, jambalayas and more – but how much do you really know about your chilis? Here are some fun facts about chili peppers to really set your mouth watering.

1. Chili peppers are actually fruits!

As they contain seeds within their flesh, your favorite chilis are technically fruits. They form from the centers of flowers on plants, which historically grew outdoors in warm climates (with plenty of rain).

2. You can grow chilis at home!

You don’t have to live in South America to grow some fantastic chilis of your own. Even if you normally get lots of rain and cold, you can grow peppers in your own garden.

However, they’ll probably fare better in a greenhouse or polytunnel where the temperature and water can be controlled. Alternatively, they make handy crops on a kitchen windowsill as a perennial plant with attractive leaves! Get gardening!

3. Columbus helped to spread chili peppers the world over.

On his second voyage to the New World in 1493, famed explorer Christopher Columbus collected chili peppers and returned with them to Spain. From there, they spread to Italy and beyond! Chili peppers as we know them actually originated in Mexico, across Central America and down towards South America.

Baby chili peppers

4. He wasn’t the only chili exporter!

Portuguese explorers took Brazilian chilis to India, and from there, those spread throughout  Asia and Africa.

5. We have birds to thank for chili growth.

Common garden birds are great at spreading chili pepper seeds purely because they eat and digest them without a spicy incident!

Birds do not have the sensory receptors in their mouth to taste capsaicin (a compound in chilis that causes burning sensations). Therefore, our feathered friends swallow chili seeds, digest and excrete them, ready to grow new plants.

6. Extinguish chili heat with milk, not water.

Though we may instinctively reach for a glass of water after a chili-filled dish, it will not reduce the burning sensation as effectively as milk! Have a jug of the white stuff on standby if you’re sampling some spicy cuisine.

7. Chilis may cause physical problems for some.

Some medical issues can arise from tasting and/or digesting chili peppers. These include irritation of the mouth and eyes. It’s always wise to handle them with care and to avoid rubbing your face too much while preparing a hot dish!

8. Chilis really do vary on the heat register.

We can measure chilis on the world-famous Scoville scale, which tells us how hot they’re going to be in our mouths. An “explosive” chili on the scale might be a habanero, while a mild chili at the other end of the scale may be an Anaheim chili. A good midpoint for adventurous foodies may be the Cayenne chili, rated as having a “raging” sensation!

9. Chili peppers come in a few different colors.

Chili peppers grow in a range of colors including red, green, purple, brown, black and yellow. Green peppers, in fact, turn red as they dry out!

10. Green chillies can be great for you.

Green chilis offer a rich source of beta-carotene and antioxidants. They’re also good sources of vitamins C and E. Add a few to your diet!

red chili peppers

FAQs about Chili Peppers

How many different types of chili peppers are there?

It’s thought more than 4,000 different types of chili exist globally, though these divide into just 33 different species. Five are related to the capiscum, a type of nightshade.

What’s the best-tasting chili pepper?

While it’s super hot, the habanero is often claimed to be the best-tasting chili pepper of the bunch. Your own tastes may vary – but if you can get past the heat, you’re in for a tasty treat.

What’s the most common chili pepper?

You’ll likely find jalapeño peppers some of the most common chilis growing worldwide. They’re available in red and green varieties, and are commonly enjoyed in burritos, on pizzas, and more!

Further reading:

Do you know any fun facts about chili peppers? Share them in the comments below!

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This page was last modified on April 4, 2024. Suggest an edit

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