De Arbol[ PURCHASE INFO ]
De Arbol Chiles: De Arbol Chiles are a close relative of the Cayenne. Close enough that they share the Cayenne's heat. They are also a good substitute for the hot pequin chile. De Arbol's are rated between 15,000 and 30,000 Scoville units or an 8 out of 10. Very hot, a little bit of de arbol goes a long way. The name "de arbol" means "tree like", the chiles grow on plants with thick woody branches, and are usually sold with a woody stem attached. De Arbols are bright red in color, and retain their color even after drying. This makes them very popular for decoration, whether in or on a dish or woven into a wreath or ristra. As beautiful as their bright red crescent shaped pods are, de arbols have a mild sweetness that is buried beneath it's intense heat, and they also have a smokey note. The flavor/heat combination makes them popular for cooking so they are available in several forms: whole chiles, course ground, powdered, or as a paste.
As mentioned, De Arbols are a close relative of Cayenne, and they may be an off-shoot of the cayenne pepper. Popular in western Mexico, de arbol chiles are thought to have originated in Oaxaca and Jalisco. The woody plants that carry the peppers grow quickly, as much as 4 feet in a year! The peppers are slender, about 4 inches long, and crescent shaped. They start out a medium green color and ripen to a bright red. Sometimes referred to as "bird beak" or "rat tail", the distinctive shape of the de arbol is easy to recognize. Because of their intense heat de arbol chiles are usually roasted or processed whole with the seeds intact. Removing the seeds of a pepper can lessen the heat, but with an already hot chile the differences will be minimal. The intense heat reduces their popularity for cooking, but their appealing shape and color make them popular for decoration. Their inclusion in flavored gourmet oils and vinegars, and in ristras will maintain the de arbol as one of the more popular and widely used gourmet chiles.
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