1. substitute for chiles
  1. Herbs in mexican cooking
  1. Chile origins
Perhaps the chief misconception about chiles is their red-hot reputation.
Many are fiery hot, butmany others are sweet, mild, or richly flavored. Their hotness is concentrated in the interior veins or ribs near the seed heart, not in the seeds as is commonly believed. (The seeds taste extra hot because they are in close contact with the hot veins.)

If, when the pepper is cut open, the vein have a yellowish orange color in that area, it usually indicates the pepper will be a potent one.

The spelling of the word "chile" is used here as it is used by Mexicans. Because American spice companies label their ground chile blends "chili" you will encounter that spelling in recipes using the purchased ground spice.

More than 140 varieties of chiles are grown in Mexico alone. Those that follow are most popular in the United States and used in most Mexican cooking recipes.


Bell Peppers
Probably the most familiar pepper in the United States, the green and red bell peppers are squarish and fist-size. Green peppers turn red in the fall, becoming sweeter and milder, yet retaining their crisp, firm texture.

This chile looks and tastes very much like ordinary bell pepper but can be considerably more peppery at times. Tapered rather than square, it is firmer, less crisp, more waxy-looking. It turn a bright red and sweetens up in the fall. When dry, it assumes a flat, round shape and wrinkles up like a prune.

California Green Chiles (Anaheim).
Fresh, these peppers are 5 to 8 inches long, 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. tapering to a point, usually a bright, shiny green. The flavor ranges from mild and sweet to moderate hot. to use fresh peppers, peel the skin from the chiles. When using fresh or canned, taste for hotness - they can vary greatly from pepper to pepper.

Fresno Chiles.
Bright green, changing to orange and red when fully matured. Fresno chiles have a conical shape - about 2 inches long and 1 inch in diameter at the stem end. They are often just labeled "hot chile peppers" when canned or bottled.

Jalapeño Chiles.
These peppers have thicker flesh, darker green color , and more cylindrical shape than Fresno chiles; however, the heat level of the two varieties is about the same - HOT! Canned and bottled peppers are sometimes labeled "hot peppers with jalapeño as a subtitle. They are always available in sauce form as salsa jalapeña, and pickled.

The true pasilla is a long, thin pepper 7 to 12 inches long by 1 inch in diameter. Pasillas turn from dark green to dark brown as they mature.

These heart-shaped chiles are purchased canned in the United States. The flesh is softer and a little sweeter than the common red bell pepper.

Dynamite-hot is an understatement for these tiny 1-inch peppers. When new on the vine, they are rich, waxy green, changing to orange and red as they mature. They also sold canned, pickled, or packed in oil.

Small, whole, red dried hot chiles.
Labeled this way on the supermarket spice shelves, many small, tapered chiles about 1 to 2 inches long are sold dried, but there is no one varietal name that applies to all of them.

Yellow Chiles.
Many short conical-shaped yellow peppers with a waxy sheen go by this name-Santa Fe grande, caribe, banana pepper, Hungarian, Armenian way, floral gem,and gold spike. Probably most familiar are the canned pickled wax peppers. Their flavor ranges from medium-hot to hot.

To date these are the Hottest chiles know to man, HOT - HOT - HOT. Use extreme caution when using. Marble-shaped chile, ranges in color from unripe green to full ripe red.


When using fresh or dried chile peppers, wear gloves to protect your hands because the oils, capsaicin*, in the peppers can cause severe burns. Don't touch your face or eyes.
If chiles do come in contact with your bare hands, wash thoroughly with soapy water. When grinding dried chiles beware of the the chile dust in the air which will irritate eyes and throats.

Tie the stems onto a sturdy piece of twine, placing chiles close together and making the strand as long as you wish. Hang in dry area with the air circulating freely around the strand.
In several weeks, chiles lose their brilliant hue, changing to a deep, glistening red; they will feel smooth and dry.

*Capsaicin is the heat factor in chiles that is used medically to produce deep-heating rubs for treating sports injuries and arthritic therapies.