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Habanero pepper

Habanero pepper (Capsicum chinense Jacquin) - The hottest chilli pepper. The name means from Havana. The color when ripe varies by variety, but they all start green when young. Common ripe colors are orange and red with other colors including white, brown or pink. Typically a ripe pepper is 1 to 2 1/2 inches long, 1 to 2 inches in diameter with an oblong shape.

Most habanero peppers rate 200,000 - 300,000 Scoville Units (su), with the Guinness Book of Records recognizing the Red Savinas variety, developed by GNS Spices of Southern California, as the "Worlds Hottest Spice" at 580,000 su. For comparison a Cayenne pepper typically runs 30,000 - 50,000 su while police grade pepper spray rates 5,300,000 su.

Habaneros are believed to originate in Cuba to later move to the Yucatan peninsula where roughly 1,500 tons are harvested annually. Other producers include Belize, Costa Rica and some US states including Texas, Idaho and California.

Many people assume that the Scotch Bonnet is the same pepper as the habanero. They are both of the same species, with similar heat level and flavor, but they are separate peppers. The most notable differences include the shape, Scotch Bonnets are shaped more like a Scot's bonnet, and the fact that the Habanero is cultivated (a Cultivar) while the Scotch Bonnet is not.

The habanero's heat and delicate fruity, citrus-like flavor makes it a popular ingredient in the hotter hot sauces and spiciest foods. McIlhenny Co. offers a Habanero version of their popular TABASCO® Brand pepper sauce at 7000 - 8000 su making it the spiciest sauce they offer. Other sauces include Dave's Insanity sauce (80,000 + su) from Dave's Gourmet, Inc. and The Source (7,100,000 su) from Original Juan Specialty Foods.

The word habanero is sometimes seen spelled -- incorrectly -- with a tilde over the letter n, probably via association with jalapeño, which is correctly spelled with the tilde.

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