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Chilli - Lamiaceae Family - Cultivation, properties and benefits of chilli

Chilli - Lamiaceae Family - Cultivation, properties and benefits of chilli



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CHILI PEPPER

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COLLECTION AND STORAGE

The fruits of the chili pepper, the berries, ripen between summer and autumn.

Traditionally they were dried in the sun, hanging them on threads. Today they are artificially dried. The berries are dried leaving a moisture content of 4-6%. At that point they are ground and rehydrated to 8-11% humidity.

Fresh or dried fleshy berries, whole or powdered, are used.

They can be eaten fresh (in this way they have the best of their properties) but they can be safely preserved in oil or dried in the sun.

If you have launched into the cultivation of this incredible plant and want to keep the seeds to reproduce them next year, do this: collect and seeds, wash them well in order to eliminate all placental residues and leave them to dry, placing them on sheets of paper, in a warm and dry place for a couple of weeks so that they are dry. After this period you can put them in a paper bag and keep them in a dry place for the next year.

MEDICINAL PROPERTIES

See: «Medicinal plants: pepper».

USE IN THE KITCHEN

Its use in the kitchen is known to all. Dosed wisely, it enhances numerous dishes.

CURIOSITY'

The English term pepper which means "pepper" used to indicate chilli is actually incorrect as pepper belongs to the genusPiper (where we find white pepper and black pepper) and to the family ofPiperaceae (a whole other planet!).

In Mexico, Central America and Southwest America the chili pepper is called kilos. The Spanish wordchile is a variation of kil derived from the (Aztec) dialect of Nahuatl which referred to plants now known asCapsicum.

In Texas the word kilos has been officially designated to indicate a typical dish (very good, editor's note) made up of beans, meat and hot peppers.

The name peperoncino is probably derived from its resemblance to pepper.

HISTORY

It is not certain what its origin is. It is likely that he was born in Peru and Bolivia.

It has been known since ancient times: it has in fact been ascertained that in Mexico it was also known by the Maya for therapeutic use and when the Spaniards landed in America the Aztecs had already created numerous varieties.

It was introduced to Europe by Christopher Columbus from the Americas at the end of the 1400s, with his second voyage, and it was the ship's doctor, Diego Alvaro Chanca, who discovered it by observing the local population who ate this plant that the indigenous people of Mexico they calledkilos.

In Europe, it was initially known as Indian pepper and it spread very quickly, above all thanks to its ease of cultivation and acclimatization and was called "the drug of the poor" as opposed to pepper which, more rare and very expensive, was reserved for the upper social classes.

Its rapid spread greatly shocked the Spaniards who expected great earnings from the sale of this spice but had to change their minds as it was grown very well everywhere so everyone could grow it in the home garden or in a jar on the windowsill.

Chemist Albert Szent-Györgyi, Nobel laureate in 1938, helped to enhance this vegetable by discovering in it a rich source of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) that stopped deaths from scurvy, a disease that killed thousands of sailors.

In 1816 P. A. Bucholtz isolated capsaicin, responsible for the spiciness but it was only in 1846, thanks to L. T. Thresh that it was synthesized and baptized with the name dicapsaicin.

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