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different types of 'heat' with chillies


pat_00
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I've been working on my own habanero hot sauce recipe for a little while now, and subsequently I've been consuming lots of it myself.

It's got me thinking how different cuisines and styles of preparation effect the spicyness of chillies eg fresh/dried/pickled etc. What I kinda mean is some chillies burn really hot but fade quickly, and some build up and last.

Isn't capsaicin just capsaicin?

Can someone explain this?

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I've been working on my own habanero hot sauce recipe for a little while now, and subsequently I've been consuming lots of it myself.

It's got me thinking how different cuisines and styles of preparation effect the spicyness of chillies eg fresh/dried/pickled etc. What I kinda mean is some chillies burn really hot but fade quickly, and some build up and last.

Isn't capsaicin just capsaicin?

Can someone explain this?

That's a good question. I do know that capsaicin dissolves in milkfat/butterfat, so a creamy ice cream reduces the heat in the mouth (or wherever the stuff is -- I have a good story about my son when he was still in diapers). Trust me ice cream works -- as does alcohol. There may be other things that the chemical dissolves in, so what the chile is eaten with can affect the quality of the experience. It may dissolve 100% or only partially. Drying and cooking don't affect the heat in a chile, and the hotter the chile, the longer it burns. Good luck with your sauce. If you find a combination of ingredients that works well, let us know! I just finished a batch of bhut jolokia sauce. I found that the mash is so hot that I can use very little in a bottle. I have to put in other stuff like lime juice, vinegar, tropical fruits, mustard, etc, in significantly greater proportions than with habanero. Aside from all that, the answer to your question is still a mystery to me!

John S.

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Oh my the wonder of the Capciscum family. The bite that bites. The fantastic meld of the fruity berry flavors with the capsaicinoids they contain. Each capsaicinoid has a slightly different affect on your pallet, mostly some type of burning sensation. The most well known of this chemical family is capsaicin. This combined with regional growing differences, ripeness of the fruit, and variety could all affect the different flavors you sense. I personally can notice the different fruity character of different chilies. There are some general rules for the heat of peppers. Size matters, smaller chillies are always hotter than larger chilies. Longer pointier chillies are almost always hotter than round stubby chilies. Capcaisin is a chemical weapon to protect the plant in its youth. A younger green chili will almost always be hotter than its more mature red, yellow, and orange siblings. One of the peppers that breaks these rules is the habanero. That's why for some of the rules I said almost always.

Capsaicin in insoluble in water. To truly dissolve capsaicin in alcohol you'd need pure ethyl alcohol. Milk works well because of the fat it contains. Capcaisin and it's fellow chemicals love fat. Another strange fact is that a 10 % sugar solution at 68 degrees seems to be as effective as milk at dissolving capsaisin. The reason for this? I'm really not sure if anyone has discovered why yet. The pharmacological Idiosyncrasies of capsaicinoids is not yet entirely understood.

Do different chillies have different nuances in their flavor and heat? Yes. The different chemicals in the fruit of the chili as well as other differences in chemistry do affect the flavors your taste. I am really unsure how much of the different capcaicinoids they contain. However, I'd be willing to bet different combinations of the half dozen capcaiciniods other than capcaisin change how the heat is perceived. Also texture and shape can greatly affect the way things taste. Imagine chemicals we taste being keys and our taste buds being locks. Texture affects the amount of the chemicals in the food gets into solution during the cooking process or inside out mouth.

The physiology and chemistry of taste is a complex topic. There are probably even more factors than I have brought up which affect your pallet when eating chilies. I think these are some of the best general answers to your question you're going to get. Unless of course you happen to know a food scientist who specializes in chemistry and chilies.

Edited by jroberts (log)
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