My habaneros are just about ready for harvesting! I’ve grown these little beauties from seed and, despite a couple of outbreaks of spider mites, I’ve finally got a few plants with ripe fruit. This makes me very happy. Seriously, for me, nothing beats the flavour of fresh, ripe habaneros!
Habanero peppers, incidentally, are one of the hottest chillis in the world, (behind the fearsome naga jolokia). Averaging around 350,000 scoville units, habaneros are over 100 times as hot as jalapeños. That’s a lot of capsaicin. These fruit are most definitely to be treated with respect!
Habaneros have actually been chemically characterised pretty well. Orange ones are fruitier than red ones, because they contain more esters. In fact, unripe habaneros have a lot more variety of flavour compounds — many diminish or disappear as the fruit ripen. Personally though, I find ripe orange habaneros to be by far the most delicious.
For food pairing purposes, the main active flavour compounds in habanero peppers are:
- (E)-2-hexenal (found in cashew apples, ripe tomatoes, pumpkin and has antibacterial action)
- hexyl 3-methylbutanoate (found in various unripe fruit)
- (Z)-3-hexenyl 3-methylbutanoate (found in blueberry, guava, melon, pineapple)
- hexyl pentanoate (also found in passion fruit, plum, apple)
- 3,3-dimethylcyclohexanol (gives flavour in many types of pepper – especially bell peppers)
- hexadecanoic acid (aka palmitic acid, found in palm oil)