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Green Ghost Chile Peppers
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Green ghost chile peppers widely vary in size, shape, and spice depending on the soil and climate the plant is grown in. The lightly crinkled pods typically average 5 to 8 centimeters in length and 2 to 3 centimeters in diameter and have a conical shape that tapers to a distinct point on the non-stem end. The skin is thin, dark green, and glossy with a waxy sheen, and the surface of the pod has a wrinkled appearance. Underneath the skin, the flesh is crisp and green, encasing a central cavity filled with membranes and a few, round, flat, cream-colored seeds. Green ghost chile peppers have a mildly acidic, green, and grassy flavor mixed with subtle floral and fruity notes. The peppers also contain a delayed heat that builds in intensity and lingers on the palate.
Green ghost chile peppers are available in the summer through fall.
Green ghost chile peppers, botanically classified as Capsicum chinense, are the immature versions of the well-known red ghost pepper and are members of the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Known by many names, including Naga Jolokia and Bhut Jolokia, which stems from the Bhutia tribe in India and roughly translates from to mean “ghost,” Green ghost chile peppers widely vary in appearance and spice, depending on how close they are in transitioning to full maturity. Ghost peppers in general range 855,000 to 1,041,427 SHU on the Scoville scale and were one of the first varieties to be labeled as a “superhot.” Green ghost chile peppers are favored for their green, grassy flavor and can be used similarly to mature ghost peppers in both raw and cooked applications. In addition to immature ghost chile peppers, there have been other Green ghost chile pepper varieties reported that were created to remain green at maturity, but these varieties are still considered relatively unstable and are not highly marketed.
Green ghost chile peppers contain vitamins A and C, which are antioxidants that can help boost the immune system, and contain folate, which is a B vitamin that can help repair tissues within the body. The peppers also contain a very high amount of the chemical compound known as capsaicin, which triggers pain receptors in our body to feel the sensation of burning. Capsaicin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and causes the body to release endorphins to counteract the perceived pain.
Green ghost chile peppers are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as stir-frying, simmering, and sautéing. Caution should be taken when using these peppers as they can be extremely hot, and even the smallest amount can render a dish inedible. It is also important to note that gloves and goggles should be worn when handling or slicing the peppers as the capsaicin can burn the skin and eyes. When fresh, Green ghost chile peppers can be pureed into sauces and marinades or chopped into salsa. The peppers can generally be used as a substitute for recipes calling for mature ghost peppers, but the immature peppers will have a greener, grassier flavor. Green ghost chile peppers can also be charred and blended with herbs and aromatics to make a green hot sauce, diced and mixed into curries, stews, and chilis, or served in fish-based dishes. In addition to sauces, Green ghost chile peppers can be dried, ground, and mixed with cumin, coriander, garam masala, and vinegar to make a paste that can be stirred into rice and curries. Green ghost chile peppers pair well with garlic, onions, ginger, cilantro, tomatillos, seafood, and meats such as poultry, beef, and pork. Fresh peppers will keep 1-2 weeks when loosely wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator.
Despite the soaring temperatures and high humidity in the Assam region of India, ghost peppers have remained a common ingredient in everyday cuisine. Locals utilize the intense heat found in ghost peppers to cause gustatory facial sweating, which is a process that the body undergoes when combating rising temperatures due to spice. As the pepper increases the body’s core temperature, blood circulation surges and causes the skin to sweat to create a cooling sensation. The process of sweating will cool the body for an extended period, and the lingering burn of the ghost pepper lengthens the entire process. Unlike consuming cold drinks that rapidly decrease the temperature in the body too fast causing the body to create its own heat to raise the temperature back to normal, this process has become one of the most critical tools for Indian locals to battle sweltering temperatures effectively.
Green ghost chile peppers are native to the states of Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur, located in the small northeastern panhandle of India. These regions are known for their extreme temperatures, reaching up to 54 °C, and it is believed that the temperature and high humidity are what contribute to the escalating heat levels within the ghost chile peppers. Today Green ghost chile peppers are considered uncommon and are somewhat difficult to find as they are not sold in commercial markets. Green ghost chile peppers are available through online seed catalogs, farmers markets, specialty grocers, and through chile pepper enthusiasts in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Mexico, the United States, and Europe.
Recipes that include Green Ghost Chile Peppers. One is easiest, three is harder.
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