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Where is a Scotch Bonnet not a Hat? In Jamaica, Mon!

scotch bonnet peppers

When you are vacationing in a Silver Sands villa, your cook will be happy to purchase your groceries for you. Don’t be surprised if you see on the shopping list a very strange item - Scotch Bonnet.

Now you may wonder why the cook needs some kind of hat to prepare your vacation food. Is that going to affect the taste of your jerk chicken? Yes, it will, because this Scotch Bonnet has nothing to do with hats or Scotland. It is a very hot chili pepper that has a distinctive flavour and heat which makes it essential for Jamaican cooking.

This pepper is called the Scotch Bonnet because it is not thin and long like most chilies, but does look like a squashed Scottish hat. It. These peppers are often red or yellow when ripe, and about one inch in diameter at the widest.

The Scoville scale is a measurement of the spicy heat of a chili pepper according to its capsaicin content. Capsaicin is a chemical compound that stimulates chemoreceptor nerve endings in the skin, especially the mucous membranes. The number of Scoville heat units (SHU) indicates the amount of capsaicin present.

The Scotch Bonnet pepper has a Scoville rating from 100,000 to 350,000  units, making it  at least forty times hotter than most jalapeno peppers. Now that is hot!

The Scotch Bonnet pepper is often cut up or ground up with other items to season ingredients before cooking. Jamaica’s famous jerk recipes all contain Scotch Bonnet peppers. You just cannot make good jerk without it. Jamaicans will also put a whole Scotch Bonnet in a pot of stew or fish “tea” (fish tea is soup) and, providing it does not burst, it will impart its unique flavour without making the dish hot.

True pepper lovers will eat Scotch Bonnet raw with their food. Here is how you may try to do this. Simply slice the Scotch Bonnet thinly and chop these slices into very small pieces. Sprinkle these pieces over your favourite dish and mix it in. Your food will instantly have that unique hot Scotch Bonnet flavour.

Another way to enjoy the unique flavour of Scotch Bonnet peppers is to make a pepper sauce from them. Get a bunch of the peppers, wash them thoroughly, and then grind them in a blender or food processor with a little vinegar or water to make a thick paste. Store in a small covered bottle in the refrigerator and apply as needed to your cooking or cooked food.

Be sure to wear gloves when handling the peppers! And keep away from your eyes.

By the end of your stay in Jamaica villas and cottages, you will want to take home a bottle of that pepper sauce made from fresh Scotch Bonnet peppers. There are also many good brands of factory-made scotch bonnet pepper sauce available in Jamaican supermarkets.

Scotch Bonnet Pepper and Jerk

Rasta Ezekiel Grows Scotch Bonnet Peppers

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