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Ecuador Hot Pepper

The Ecuador Hot is just what its name sounds like, a blazing hot pepper from the South American nation of Ecuador. Its scientific name, capsicum annuum, however, might be misleading. For, the Ecuador hot is not a true annual but can become a perennial when it manages to survive long enough. Since this plant grows as far north as the southern reaches of North America, it can die off during the winter frosts, but it is capable of growing into a large shrub that produces a multitude of peppers year after year.

These little peppers are only about an inch long and a quarter inch wide, but they deliver a Scoville heat units (SHU) score that ranges from 145,000 to 185,000. Variations in soil, climate, weather patterns, level of exposure to water and sunlight, etc. determine just where within that SHU range each individual pepper falls.

The capsicum annuum plant takes about 85 days to grow and can reach a height of 24 inches. It does best in warm, dry climates such as exist in Ecuador. It yields large bunches of peppers that point straight up into the air and appear like so many fingers on an upraised, peppery hand. The leaves and stems of the Ecuador hot plant are a mix of green and purple. The flowers are white and develop into peppers that turn from green to purple to red on their way to maturity.

If cooking with an Ecuador hot, you may want to wear gloves while handling and cutting it. The oils of this pepper can get on your hands and then your eyes, causing an unpleasant burning sensation. After all, you want to save that burning experience for your mouth and your stomach, not waste it on your hands and eyes.

The strong flavor and colorful appearance of the Ecuador hot, along with its spiciness, have made it a popular pepper in the its native home. One can, of course, make chili powder, dried stewing peppers, or ordinary types of salsa out of the Ecuador hot. A more unique and “Ecuadorian” use, however, would be to use it in a batch of Ecuadorian hot sauce. Cilantro, garlic, onions, and lime juice are also a part of the recipe. While there are many similarities among culinary traditions of Latin America, each nation also has its own unique recipes. You can’t go wrong with some freshly made, bright green Ecuadorian hot sauce made with real Ecuador hot peppers.

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