Tepin Chile Peppers
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Tepin chile peppers are round and very small, roughly 3/8” in diameter. The tiny peppers are green when young and bright red when fully mature. The small chiles have a very intense heat, between 50,000 and 100,000 Scoville units. It is said that the Tepin chile is spicier than a Habanero chile; though the pungent heat of the Tepin chili quickly diminishes. The residual flavor is somewhat smoky.
Tepin chile peppers are available in the fall.
The Tepin chile pepper is the only chile native to the United States, and it’s the state pepper of Texas. The word Tepin comes from the Nahuatl Mexican word for “flea” because of its small size. It is known by many other names, among them bird’s eye, Chiltepin, and the “mother of all peppers,” because it is thought to be the oldest of the Capsicum annuum species.
Tepin chile peppers are most often sun-dried and added to soft cheeses and cream sauces, or pickled with wild oregano, garlic and salt to be used as a condiment. It can be fermented and made into hot sauce. In northern Mexico, Tepin chiles have been used as a preservative for meat and also appear in a dish along with wild greens and onions.
In Mexico, the Tepin chile’s heat is called ‘arrebatado’ meaning “rapid” or “violent” referring to its immense heat that quickly diminishes. The small and spicy chile has a long history along the United States/Mexico border, appearing in traditional dishes, medicines and folklore of the Opatas and Yaqui people of Sonora in northern Mexico, and the O'odham of southern Arizona. The wild-harvesting traditions are still present in some border communities today.
Growing on shrubs in canyons throughout Western Texas and Arizona, the Tepin chile pepper has grown along the Mexican-United States border for generations. Tepin chile peppers are hand-picked because of their small nature and growing environment. Today, there are less than fifteen areas known to be natural habitats for the chiles. They are protected in three different National Parks in the Southwestern United States.
Recipes that include Tepin Chile Peppers. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Hunter Angler Gardener Cook||Homemade Chiltepin Hot Sauce|
|Eats Well with Others||Tepin Chile Chicken and Waffles|
|Food 52||Quick Garlic Ginger Pickles with Tepin Pepper|