Spicy-food lovers have long been fans of the chile pepper. The colorful produce ranges in spiciness from mild to extra-hot and is used to add some culinary fire to countless recipes. (In general, size and heat go hand in hand with chile peppers: Larger varieties tend to be milder, while small, pointy peppers deliver more burn.)
The popular peppers are surprisingly simple to grow. Here, Fiery-Foods.com founder Dave DeWitt, author of "The Complete Chile Pepper Book," shares some of his favorite chile peppers from the garden.
Grown in India since the 1700s, the bhut jolokia, or "ghost pepper," is currently acknowledged by Guinness World Records as the hottest chile pepper in the world. It may soon be dethroned, however, by a new variety of chile, the Trinidad Scorpion, which is too hot to taste.
A particularly nutritious variety, the long and thin New Mexico chile pepper contains more vitamin C than an orange; when it turns red, the bright chile pepper has more vitamins than a carrot.
Commonly called the "Mother of All Chiles," the chiltepin is a very hot wild plant with berrylike pods that are spread by birds. Modern varieties of this chile pepper were developed from these pods by pre-Columbian Native Americans in South America and Mexico.
Once considered the hottest chile pepper, the spicy habanero is extremely popular in hot sauces. It is commercially grown on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
Poblanos are a large, mild chile often used for stuffing and sauces. Dried red poblanos, called anchos, are used to make Mexican mole sauces.
This medium-heat Mexican chile is one of the best chiles for making fresh salsas.