Written by: Joseph Bede
Texture: waxy flesh, with a thin exterior
Average Size: This pepper averages between 1-3 inches. The plant in a potted container can grow to heights anywhere from 2 feet to well over 10 feet.
Average Weight: 1-4 ounces
Suggested amount to use in your recipe: Habanero chilies are quite powerful so you do not want to use as many for your salsa recipe as you would red bell peppers or jalapenos. We suggest using anywhere from ½ – 3 habaneros, deseeded. If you are adding any juice, such as lime or lime powder, or even sugar, feel free to add a bit more habaneros as the sweetness will offset your heat and leave you with a more flavorful salsa dish.
Average grow time required in your garden: 2-3 months
The habanero is one of the hottest peppers in the world. This a very spicy chili and should only be used in a salsa recipe by someone who is used to handling such powerful heat. Please take proper precautions and use rubber gloves when experimenting with your habanero.
Now that we have our warning out the way, habaneros are a commonly used pepper in salsas when cooks are looking to achieve a serious level of hotness. As a result, we do not suggest using this pepper in mild or medium salsas without deseeding. This pepper can be picked up at your local food market and is most likely the hottest one available on a multitude of store shelves, anything hotter will need to be grown in your garden or purchased from a more local supplier. There are several types of habaneros, and they range in color from green when premature to orange, red and even white in certain varieties. The scoville units according to habanero-peppers.com for your common habanero range from 100,000 – 350,000 units however there are several other chilis from the habanero family along with hybrids that have habanero “roots” that can surpass this mark by more than 1 million on the Scoville scale, for example the red savina and the ghost chili peppers.
In regards to growing conditions, habaneros are not as easy to grow as other peppers like the jalapeno. Habanero chilis require a good dose of sunlight but too much can have negative effects on your mature peppers when they are ready for picking. Excessive water can also hold negative consequences and giving peppers a drastically minimized punch cloaked in bitterness. Proper management is vital when growing your own habaneros but the cultivating through the months can bring you delicious, spicy peppers for your recipe for salsa. Since habaneros can develop an array of exterior pigments, be mindful when picking. The best time to pull them from your garden is when they are a very deep and bright orange, or a lowly shaded red.
What ingredients go well with my salsa if I use habaneros?
In recent years there has been an influx in the addition of fruit to Americanized salsas. One of the most popular combinations is actually the mango habanero salsa, where you peel your mangos and add them sparingly as you mix in your other salsa ingredients. Pineapple is a good choice and believe it or not, certain types oranges can be added to provide a more citrus-based end result. As for more traditional salsa ingredients, garlic and cilantro will amalgamate well with your habaneros.
Salsa Note: Not a fan of tomatoes? Many mango-habanero salsas do not require tomatoes as the mangos act as the primary mixing agent for your salsa. Furthermore, it makes a great subtle addition on a beef brisket or any white meat dish, placed a top for a sweet, delectable accent.