Chile pepper, chile, chili, chili pepper, finger chillies, hot peppers
Capsicum annuum is the scientific name for the most common chillies but other types include C. baccatum, C. chinense, C. frutescens, and C. pubescens
Red chillies are hollow, and the pith and seeds are the hottest part. Many red chillies are milder than green chillies, although there are hundreds of varieties. Chilli heat is related to capsaicin content and measured in Scoville units. Capsaicin is the chilli component that irritates your skin and eyes, but it also has medicinal benefits, including analgesic properties.
Fruit should be firm with a uniform shape, size and colour typical of the variety, and free from any defects. Environmental factors and maturity affects the capsaicin concentrations (responsible for pungency).
Postharvest storage temperature
Fruit should be cooled as soon as possible to reduce water loss. Storage above 7.5°C causes water loss resulting in shrivel. Storage at 7.5°C is best for maximum shelf life (3–5 weeks); fruit can be stored at 5°C for 2 weeks and although this reduces water loss, chilling injury will begin to appear after that period. Symptoms include pitting, decay, discolouration of the seed cavity, softening without water loss. Ripe or coloured fruit are less chilling sensitive than green fruit.
Controlled atmosphere storage
Fruit do not benefit from modified atmospheres and high CO2 atmospheres (>5%) can cause damage (pitting, discolouration, softening) especially if stored below 10°C.
Responses to ethylene depend on the particular variety.
Fruit should be stored at >95%. Firmness is directly related to water loss and packaging is important to maintain a high relative humidity around the fruit.
Disease & infection
The most common organisms causing decay are botrytis, alternaria, and soft rots of fungal and bacterial origin. This can be minimised with good hygiene and temperature controlled storage.
When trying a new recipe with chilli, add about half of what's required and taste, gradually adding more until you have the level of heat you desire.