Capsicum annum includes bell pepper, paprika, pimento, jalapeno,
cascabel, Cayenne, Chili, Chile, Chilies, Chili Pepper, Red Pepper, Red
Chili, Tabasco Pepper, African Pepper, and Bird Pepper.
The genus Capsicum comprised all the varied forms of fleshy-fruited peppers grown as herbaceous annuals - the red, green, and yellow pepper rich in vitamins A and C that are used in seasoning and as a vegetable food. It includes paprika, chili pepper, red pepper (cayenne), and bell peppers. The latter one is considered and eaten as a vegetable and is not covered in this section. The capsicums under each category vary tremendously and the species designation is not always possible. In general, paprika belongs to C.annum and the red peppers and chili peppers belong to the C.frutescens species.
Peppers originate from Central America where most of the main varieties
were developed by local Indians. The genus Capsicum is native of South
America which emerged probably in the area bordering Southern Brazil and
The three species C. annuum, C. frutescens and C. chinense evolved from a common ancestor located in the North of the Amazon basin (NW-Brazil, Columbia). The wild form of this species is native from Florida and the Bahamas to Arizona and down though Central America to Colombia.
As paprika plants tolerate nearly every climate, the fruits are produced all over the world. A fairly warm climate is, however, necessary for a strong aroma; therefore, in Europe, Hungarian paprika has best reputation; the best comes from the Kalocsa region. In the Unites States, California and Texas are the main producers.
Capsicum species were brought back to Europe by the Spaniards in the late 1400's and early 1500's and soon became enormously popular. Many of the varieties of Capsicum annuum were developed by New World Indians before European invaders arrived. Modern breeding has tended to concentrate on developing new sweet pepper cultivars.
Cayenne is a bush like dark-green annual plant, obtaining a height
between 10 to 20 inches. The stems are furrowed, branching, and angular.
The simple leaves are on medium to long petioles and are usually wrinkled, entire, and ovate to oval. The pendulous flowers are white to violet, solitary, arising from the axillary nodes.
The fruits are long, cylindrical, and mostly ovoid, and when ripe are either scarlet or yellow, with a smooth shiny surface. The many seeds are yellow, smooth and round, with a spiny protuberance on the edge.
The plants grow at altitudes from sea level to 1,800 m above MSL in the tropics. Their pungency is influenced by several factors, such as high night temperatures and drought or over-watering.
It flowers from summer to frost. Pepper plants are treated as tender summer annuals outside their native habitat. They are propagated by planting seed directly in the field or by transplanting seedlings started in green houses or hotbeds after 6-10 weeks. Green chilies are immature fruits and red chilies have been allowed to ripen for a further 4 weeks.
The parts used are berry fruits. Removal of seeds and veins results in a less pungent and more brightly coloured product.
The pungent constituents found in Cayenne are the capsaicinoids, present
only in the fruit of the plant in small amounts, as low as 0.001 to 0.005%
in "mild" and 0.1% in "hot" cultivars. Capsaicin is a
phenolic compound, the vanillyl amide of isodecenoic acid
Apart from capsaicin, the taste of paprika is mostly due to essential oil; paprika scent is mostly do to a range of alkylmethoxypyrazines. Paprika also contains sizable amounts (0.1%) of vitamin C. Paprikas derive their colour in the ripe state mainly from carotenoid pigments, which range from bright red (capsanthrine, capsorubin and more) to yellow.
Capsicum or Cayenne (Capsicum Frutescens) is rich in vitamins A, C, iron and calcium. It contains vitamin G, magnesium, phosphorus, and sulphur; it also has some B-complex, and is rich in potassium.
Here is the statistical data of the constituents present in capsicum annum
|Capsicum frutescens or Capsicum annuum Nutrient||Units||1 tsp
|Total lipid (fat)||g||0.311|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||g||1.019|
|Fiber, total dietary||g||0.490|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||mg||1.375|
|Vitamin A, IU||IU||748.980|
|Vitamin A, RE||mcg_RE||74.898|
|Fatty acids, total saturated||g||0.059|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated||g||0.050|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||g||0.151|
The pungency for the red peppers and the colour value for the paprikas
are the most important parameters. The hot flavour of chilies is caused by
the substance capsicin which is concentrated mainly in the placenta (i.e.
the connective tissue between the fruit and the seeds) and the seeds.
Hot peppers, used as relishes, pickled or ground into a fine powder for use as spices, derive their pungency from the compound capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-enamide), a substance characterized by acrid and burning taste, that is located in the internal partitions of the fruit. The capsaicin stimulates gastric secretions and, if used in excess, causes inflammation. It is a tasteless, odorless white crystalline substance. Its level varies widely in capsicum peppers, from less than 0.05% in the mildly pungent types to as high as 1.3% in the hottest chilies. Most of the capsaicin in a pepper is found in the interior ribs that divide the chambers of the fruit, and to which the seeds are attached.
Chilies have a chemical effect on our bodies as they stimulate the appetite and cool the body. The chili flavour revolutionized the cooking of tropical countries. Red pepper is used in a large variety of products, often in the meat and pickling industry in the form of crushed red pepper or ground red pepper. It is used either in the ground form or as oleoresin in any product that has some heat or pungency. A fine powder made from especially mild varieties of pepper, C.annum, is known as paprika. Paprika is used more extensively whenever a red to orange colour is desired such as in processed meats, snack, foods, sauces, gravies, salad dressings etc.
C.frutescens, C. pubescens, C. chinense, C. baccatum, C. longum, C. cordiforme, C.grossum, C. chlorocladum, C. fastigiatum, C. cerasiforme.