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Habanero is a hot variety of chilli pepper. It is a perennial flowering plant with oval, simple leaves with deep glossy green colour. The plants are generally bushy and just slightly taller than they are wide. Unripe Habaneros are green and they colour as they mature. Typically a ripe Habanero is 2-6cm long. Habanero chillis are very hot, rated 100,000-450,000 on the Scoville Heat Units scale. Habanero is a member of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, which consist of over 3,000 species, including for example belladonna, mandrake, petunia, potato, tomato, pepper (e.g. bell pepper, cayenne, tabasco) and tobacco.
Habanero peppers grow mainly on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico as well as in other hot climates including in Belize, Costa Rica, parts of US and Panama where it is known as the aji chombo. Habanero chili originated in the Amazon basin, from which it was spread, reaching Mexico. A specimen of a domesticated Habanero plant, dated at 8,500 years old, was found at an archaeological site in Peru. Habanero pepper was named after the Cuban city of La Habana (Havana), which was the main trading center for those peppers. It was spread all over the world by Spanish colonists and in the 18th century, it was mistaken that China was its place of origin. Since then it was called Capsimum chinese (the Chinese pepper).
The indigenous tribes of South America and the Caribbean have used Habanero and its cousins for its beneficial properties and to spice their foods. In Chinese, Japanese, Native American and Ayurvedic traditional medicine, Cayenne and Habanero pepper powders have been used to promote healthy digestion, stimulate appetite and combat frostbite. Chilli peppers have a significant role in folk medicine for treating ailments related to the pain and headaches. In Bolivia they used powder poultice applied to the forehead to relieve headaches. The Incas believed that eyesight was improved by eating chillis. The vitamin A in red peppers is said to fortify vision; therefore, in Hungary a night-blindness was treated with a paprika tea. During the colonial era in Mexico a cure for earache was to mix wine and chilli powder for use as ear drops. In the Philippines, in combination with cinchona, chillis were used to treat inflammation of eardrum.
Chilli peppers are used as a cure for baldness in the West Indies. Fiery hot chilli oil is rubbed into the scalp and the resulting tingling is said to be the start of the hair-growing process. In traditional Chinese medicine chilli peppers were used to induce sweating and to treat common cold. It was also considered to improve the effectiveness of other herbs and used as an adjunct herb in formulas. Chilli peppers are also traditionally used for their anti-inflammatory properties in an ointment for arthritis pain.
When consuming Habanero, besides the heat, you will notice slightly sweet, fruity flavour and subtle smoky taste. Energetically Habanero is one of our hottest plants and is quite dry as well. In culinary recipes it pairs well with foods that taste sweet, for example, making salsa with fruits like mango or pineapple. Habanero has affinity towards digestion, blood circulation, heart, eyes, immune and nervous system. For indigestion use Habanero with Slippery Elm, Goldenseal, Anise Seed or Marshmallow Root. To enhance circulation use with Rosemary, Gotu Kola, Ginkgo Biloba, Hawthorne or Ginger. If you feel a cold is coming on, add Habanero pepper to your Ginger tea with honey and lemon.
How to use:
Start with using 1/4 teaspoon per 1 cup of boiling water for infusion on its own or added to your favourite herbal tea.
For Habanero infused oil use 2 tablespoons of Habanero powder and combine in a sauce pan with 2 cups of sunflower oil. Cook over a low flame for about 2 hours. Strain through a cheesecloth into a clean glass jar. To make a salve, add 1 1/2 oz of beeswax. Rub the oil on sore muscles or areas of arthritis pain.
Cautions & contraindications:
Habanero is considered safe; however, if you have sensitive skin avoid direct topical contact.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or illness. Please consult your health care provider prior to the use of this product if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medications or have a medical condition. Individual results may vary.