Red Pepper

General Description

Red Pepper is made from the ground fruit of a plant in the Capsicum family. The fruits, commonly known as “chilies” or “chili peppers,” are fiery red or orange pods which rarely grow to more than 4 inches in length. The ground product ranges from orange-red, to deep, dark red. According to the American Spice Trade Association, “Red Pepper” is the preferred name for all hot red pepper spices. Cayenne Pepper is another name for the same type of product. Some manufacturers use the term Cayenne Pepper to refer to a hotter version of Red Pepper.

Geographical Sources

India, South America and the United States.

Traditional Ethnic Uses

Red Pepper is used to achieve the characteristically hot flavor of Mexican, Creole, Cajun, Thai, Szechuan, and Indian cooking. It also is used in chili, Spanish rice, and barbecue sauce as well as meats, salads, and casseroles.

Taste and Aroma Description

Red pepper is a pungent, hot powder with a strong bite.

History/Region of Origin

Capsicum peppers are native to Mexico, Central America, the West Indies, and parts of South America. The Spanish discovered the pods in the New World and brought them back to Europe. Before the arrival of Spaniards, Indians in Peru and Guatemala used capsicum medicinally to treat stomach and other ailments.

Storage Tips


A Few Ideas to Get You Started

Use small amounts of Red Pepper. It is a biting condiment, and the flavor intensifies as it is cooked. For a spicy snack, add ground Red Pepper and salt to hot oil; saute blanched almonds until golden. Or add a dash of Red Pepper, onion, cheese, and bacon to beaten eggs for scrambled eggs or omelet. Try adding Red Pepper to barbecue steak sauce. Use it to marinate or baste steaks.