Scotch Bonnet Peppers – Spice Up Your Life!
The Scotch bonnet pepper (Capsicum chinense) is a variety of chile pepper in the same species as the habañero. The Scotch bonnet grows mainly in the Caribbean islands, including Jamaica. The habañero, which in Spanish means “from Havana”, is grown mainly in Latin and North America and is the most intensely spicy chile pepper of the Capsicum genus. Both peppers have a thin waxy skin and a similar degree of heat.
The Scotch bonnet pepper is the primary hot pepper in Jamaica and is an essential ingredient of Jamaican cooking because of its distinctive flavor. It gets is name because its shape resembles a Scotsman’s tam-o-shanter (a “bonnet”). It looks almost identical to a habañero pepper but it has its own unique flavor. However, you can substitute the habañero for the Scotch bonnet if you cannot find the real thing. The peppers are sold whole, dried or ground, and are used for sauces such as “Jamaica Hell Fire”.
As the pepper matures, it turns from green to any number of colors – orange, red, yellow or mahogany. It’s not unusual to see peppers of different colors growing on the same plant.
The heat of the Scotch bonnet is in the seeds and membrane. To reduce the heat level, discard the seeds and membrane when you chop up the pepper. To get the flavor of the pepper without the heat, use it whole but remove it gently after cooking the food without breaking the skin. Be very careful; do not rub your eyes after handling the peppers and wash your hands well afterward.
Spice up your life…try a Scotch bonnet!
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Want to grow your own Scotch bonnets? By all means you can grow your own pimento (allspice) trees, Scotch bonnet peppers, sorrel (Roselle), and many other things. Check out the listings below on Amazon and eBay! If your climate isn't perfect (tropical), many of these can be grown, or at least started, indoors as houseplants.
Here are some on-line sources for plants and seeds: