Field Notes

The Cayenne Chili Pepper

Name: Cayenne

Flavor Notes: Lemon zest,

Heat Level: Medium to High

All hail the OG chili pepper! Cayenne is one of the oldest known chilies to be consumed by humans, and continues to be incredibly prevalent in our kitchens today. Long, thin and bright red, the chili is most frequently encountered in its dried powdered form, and added to rubs for meat and fish, soups and stews, and anything else that might benefit from a little kick.

Cayenne peppers are closely related to tabasco peppers, made famous by Tabasco Hot Sauce. Tabasco’s biggest hot sauce competitors in the US, Texas Pete and Frank’s Red Hot, both use cayenne peppers as the base of their recipes.

In recent years, cayenne pepper has been embraced by the fitness community for its purported ability to help control appetite and encourage weight loss. Cayenne, like all hot chili peppers contains capsaicin, which causes a chemical reaction that makes the brain release endorphins.

Storing: Keep ground cayenne pepper in a cool dry place; it’ll last indefinitely but begins to lose the sharpness of its flavor after about 4 to 6 months.

The Morita Chili Pepper

The size of a prune, this dried, smoky chili is the precocious little sibling to the chipotle. Moritas are made by letting red jalapeños ripen and dry on the vine. They’re then harvested and lightly smoked. The result is a chili with fruity acidity, a touch of smoke and a soft, thick flesh. Use it anywhere you’d use a chipotle; moritas offer a similar, but milder flavor.

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The Guajillo Chili Pepper


Traditionally used as the key component of the sauce that accompanies tamales, guajillo chilies feature a delightfully acidic flavor. With slightly tougher skins, they’re best made into a puree or paste.

Sourcing and storing: Guajillos are easily found in dried form (both whole and ground) at most supermarkets and online. Store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Fresh Green Jalapeño Chili Pepper

As far as fresh chilies go, jalapeños are among the most recognizable and easy to find. These stalwart pepper are hearty growers, with thick skins that make them suitable for many types of cooking. They can stand up to frying or grilling, and are perfect for pickling (as evidenced by every nacho platter in America).

Sourcing and storing: Fresh jalapeños are available at most grocery stores and Latin markets; they’re also easy to grow in a pot during the summer months. Store them at room temperature for 3 to 5 days.