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Aji Crystal Chile Peppers
Inventory, 5 lbs : 0
This item was last sold on : 09/25/16
Aji Crystal peppers grow on prolific plants that reach up to three feet tall. Aji Crystal peppers have a tapered shape and grow 3 to 4 inches in length. The chiles start out a light green color and ripen to a pale yellow before maturing to a fiery orange-red. Aji Crystal peppers have a slightly waxy skin and medium thick walls. The peppers are often harvested when they are just ripe and still slightly immature, when the heat is less intense. The pale yellow Aji Crystal peppers are medium hot, with a slightly citrus flavor. When fully ripe and orange-red, the peppers are ranked at over 30,000 Scoville Heat Units, over ten times spicier than a jalapeno.
Aji Crystal peppers are available year-round with a peak season in the summer and fall months.
Aji Crystal, or Aji Cristal chile peppers, are botanically classified as Capsicum baccatum. This species of chile peppers is one of the least cultivated, and the least varied of all the Capsicum species. Most Aji varieties are native to South America and have a smoky-fruity flavor that is unique to this species.
Aji Crystal peppers contain high amounts of vitamins C and A, as well as potassium, magnesium and iron. The capsaicin in the peppers provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Aji Crystal peppers are most often used slightly immature, when still a pale yellow color and not too spicy. Young chiles can be stuffed with cheese or rice and roasted or baked. In Chile, the peppers are traditionally sautéed with onions, garlic, oil, salt and pepper and then blended to make a salsa. They can be added whole or sliced to soups and stews, braised meats or marinades. The more mature, red peppers can be dried to make chile powder. Rubber gloves are recommended when preparing the peppers; the capsaicin is concentrated in the white, pithy ribs and seeds. When using Aji Crystal peppers, use all or a portion of the pepper, to taste. Young peppers will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator, more mature peppers will keep for a week. Peppers can be roasted or cooked and frozen or pickled to preserve for up to three months.
In Chile, Aji Crystal or Aji Verde, is commonly used to make a salsa called “pebre.” It is often served in restaurants alongside bread and butter at restaurants and is a traditional condiment at barbeques to serve with meats, sausages or boiled potatoes. The salsa is made with chopped Aji Crystal, garlic, cilantro, a bit of vinegar and oil, and occasionally tomatoes and has a bit of a soupy consistency.
Aji Crystal peppers are native to Curico, Chile. Most chiles from the baccatum species are native to Peru and Bolivia, and are not often found outside of South America. Capsicum baccatum peppers are said to have been the only variety that was brought to South America from Europe, whereas all other Capsicum varieties are originally native to Central and South America. Aji Crystal peppers aren’t commercially cultivated, though they can be found at farmer’s markets through small farms in warm, sub-tropical areas.