Recipe Corner Cooking Techniques

The Fiery Fruit: Cayenne Peppers

One bite of this spicy little number, and your mouth will be temporarily whisked to the edge of a volcano.

Chili PeppersAs sweat springs to your flushed forehead and sprints down to your watering eyes, you envision the red-hot eruption taking place on your tortured (or tantalized?) taste buds. Lucky you: That bonfire bite contains a fair amount of seeds & pith -- the source of the pepper's fire-breathing power -- and the heat is now reaching epic levels, promoting an endorphin-packed euphoria. Wheeee!

You reach for the glass of water that's taunting you, but a nearby angel of mercy knows that water can spread the heat like gasoline on a fire, and thus, suitably hands you a piece of bread and cheese. As the flames on your tongue subside, you look curiously upon the mini magic fireball, wondering how something so small could be so potent.So intense?

What a rush. Naturally, you take another bite.

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An eye-catching red pepper with a flavor to match its feisty package, cayennes are part of the capsicum-- peppers -- branch of the nightshade plant family. Any visit to a tropical fruit & veggie market usually shows a healthy display of peppers. Yes, "healthy," because peppers have antioxidants galore. Plus, when they're consumed in moderation (one can have too much of a good thing!), they boost the body's metabolism and blood circulation. Indeed, people who are native to warm climates understand the benefits of eating peppers, often enjoying spicy foods in order to promote perspiration:  Ahhh, nature's A/C.

In the U.S. cayenne peppers are associated with Cajun cuisine from Southwestern Louisiana and Southeastern Texas, but their use isn't limited to Gulf Coast cooking. Internationally, cayenne peppers, named for the capital of French Guiana, traditionally make an appearance in the dishes of India, Korea and Southwestern China. Even our neighbor to the north, Canada, puts the peppers to good use: Canadian folklore says that adding a dash of ground cayenne pepper between two layers of socks helps to keep feet toasty.

Fortunately, we don't have to worry about spring snows in this neck of the woods! In fact, let's get ready for an instant summer with Spicy Fruit Salsa, courtesy of Cooper Farms.

Enjoy the fruit that bites you back!