How many chili peppers does Mexico have? We tell you what they are for (besides being delicious)

14, 2021

6 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

This story originally appeared on México Desconocido

Chiles from Mexico! In Mexico everyone, or almost everyone, eats chili . Regardless of this, the cuisine of chile is, strictly speaking, national. It is what defines us, although not exclusively, compared to other diets and cuisines in the world.

The multiplicity of moles, many of them, as we have seen, already in common use among ancient Mexicans, even though they were not yet “transmuted” by the presence of the ingredients brought by the Spanish, is formidable. There is a yellowish mole ; Black mole, pot mole, green mole, herb mole, pipián , manchamanteles, xoloztle, chorreado, muddy, poblano, chimole …

And as for the sauces

A count of the National Museum of Popular Cultures records more than forty prepared only with chili peppers that are easily available in the market. Nothing else can be made with the serrano pepper nine different sauces : raw, cooked, fried, roasted, green, red, “Mexican” etc., according to the enumeration made by that omnivorous food historian that is José N. lturriaga; we would add the variations that can be achieved whether or not garlic, or onion, or coriander are added to each of them, depending on.

Chiles from Mexico

On the other hand, the chili in Mexico has become almost a national symbol. Mexicans not only use it in most of the dishes they consume, but also identify themselves vitally, ontologically with it.

Image: Armando Aguayo Rivera Armando Aguayo Rivera via Mexico Unknown

The diversity and richness of the dishes prepared with this product is impressive, from the typical and consistent moles of Puebla, Oaxaca and Yucatán, to speak only of the best known, to the refined sauces and marinades of the State of Mexico, Guadalajara or San Luis Potosí, the variety of tastes, flavors and ingredients that are used in the country’s kitchens in conjunction with the different chili peppers has allowed the development of a characteristic, sensual and inviting gastronomy, with a peculiar taste, which despite the transformations and the influences, retains a particular tonic, due precisely to the variety of forms and ways in which chili is consumed in Mexico. According to the National System of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (SINAREFI) there are 64 varieties:

  1. Yellow chili
  2. Chili achilito
  3. Chile wide
  4. Apaxtleco Chile
  5. White chili
  6. Chile bolita
  7. Tree chili
  8. Chile morelos
  9. Bell chili
  10. Chili chawa
  11. Chilpaya chili
  12. Chocolate chili
  13. Chile copied
  14. Chile cora
  15. Coastal chili
  16. Chili coxle
  17. Water chili
  18. Tree chili
  19. Jet chili
  20. Chile de monte
  21. Ounce chili
  22. sweet pepper
  23. Sweet white chili
  24. Chile listened
  25. Rooster-hen chili
  26. Chickpea chili
  27. Fat chili
  28. guajillo chile
  29. Habañero pepper
  30. Chile huacle
  31. jalapeno pepper
  32. Lajoyero chili
  33. Crazy chili
  34. Chile Apple
  35. Chile miahuateco
  36. Chile mirador
  37. Chile miraparriba
  38. Mirasol chili
  39. Mulatto chili
  40. Chile nanche
  41. Crab eye chili
  42. Chile stopped
  43. pasilla
  44. Chile pasilla Oaxaca
  45. Chile pico paloma
  46. Chile pico de paloma
  47. Chili pepper
  48. Chili puya
  49. Striped chili
  50. Serrano chile
  51. Chile simojovel
  52. Chile shirunduu
  53. Shuladi chili
  54. Chile loneliness
  55. Chile single
  56. Single Chile
  57. Chile branch
  58. Tobacco chili
  59. Taviche chili
  60. Chile tecomatlán
  61. Chile tecpin
  62. Chile tusta
  63. Chile xcat´lk
  64. Zacapaleno chili

Image: Via Mexico Unknown

Nutritional value of chili peppers from Mexico

This fruit is not only an extraordinary condiment, perhaps the most versatile of all that exist; It is also a food of great nutritional value.

It is rich in vitamins : the vegetable with the highest concentration of ascorbic acid known (the discovery of this substance in the pulp of the chili pepper earned the Hungarian doctor Albert Szent-Gyürgyi the award of the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine in 1937 ).

Fresh chili peppers contain more than twice the vitamin C of lemon and orange and almost six times more than grapefruit; dry ones , meanwhile, contain vitamin A in a higher proportion than carrots, for example. Chili peppers also have significant, albeit lower, amounts of vitamins E, P, and B, and some minerals.

Image: Via Mexico Unknown

Although its excessive consumption can cause various discomforts, such as gastritis or ulcers, eating chili is essential for a balanced diet . And even more among Mexicans: it has been proven that chili induces a high digestibility of corn and bean proteins, so that, as José lturriaga says,

“The chili is not for Mexicans only a food supplement, but a nutritional multiplier”.

The interdependence that has been preserved in the typical Mexican food triad: corn, beans and chili, integrates a complex of highly nutritional components that balance and reinforce each other. A bean taco with salsa is not only tasty but also nutritious .

Image: Via Mexico Unknown

Industrial uses

Additionally, its industrial uses are increasing. Red chili powder, rich in capsanthin (an ingredient that determines the amount of pigment in a chili pepper), is used in poultry farming as food for chickens, in order to obtain an intense yellow coloration, highly appreciated, both in the buds of the eggs as in the skin of chickens.

  • From the dehydrated chili peppers, in turn, a substance called oleoresin is extracted, which is used in the preparation of cold meats and sausages;
  • as a component of marine paints;
  • as a repellent in agriculture and small livestock against predatory mammals;
  • tobacco industry, to improve the taste of certain tobacco blends;
  • pharmaceutical industry, as a stimulant;
  • in cosmetics, to produce coloring pigments for lipsticks and face powders;
  • manufacture of defensive aerosols.
  • military industry, where it is used in the manufacture of so-called pepper-gas, which forces soldiers – how spicy it will be – to remove their masks.

In any case, as a national symbol, albur, nutrient, ingredient or tool, the chili is still an essential element within Mexican culture.

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