Have you ever wondered why the spiciest flavored foods hail from some of the hottest areas in the world? (Think chile-based sauces from South America, curries from Thailand and India, harissa paste from North Africa and the Middle East, and the fiery Sichuan cuisine from China's subtropical regions.) Though it may seem strange for people in these steamy climates to eat foods that set their mouths ablaze, it all boils down to one simple concept: Spicy foods make you sweat, and sweat helps cool you down. In other words, unlike icy drinks and treats that only cool you down for a few minutes, spicy foods actually raise your internal temperature to match the temperature outside. This makes you sweat, and once the moisture has evaporated from your skin, you are more acclimated to the heat and feel cooler for longer.
Pennsylvania isn't exactly a tropical region, but as this new heat wave sets in we're extra thankful for the bounty of hot peppers we've received from our network of local growers. Come by the Farmstand for some Portuguese peppers from Taproot; Hungarian wax peppers from Oasis; mixed baby hot peppers from Heritage; Serranos, jalapeños, and red long hots from Paradise Hill; green long hots from Formisano; and poblanos from Hlubik Farms. Or if you can't stand the heat, try LFFC's white bells and banana peppers, A.T. Buzby's green bells, or Marolda's shishito peppers.
New to cooking with hot peppers? Here's a handy guide from TheKitchn, and a comprehensive glossary with heat levels from PepperScale. Plus, as always, I've rounded up some recipes below to get you started. See you at the 'stand!
- Peach Jalapeño Jam (from Good Housekeeping)
- Pickled Jalapeño Peppers (from Food in Jars)
- Hot Pepper Relish (from Serious Eats)
- Homemade Hot Sauce (from Bon Appétit)
- Charred Pepper Steak Sauce (from Smitten Kitchen)
- Goi Chay Vietnamese Vegetarian Salad (from TheKitchn)
- Orecchiette with Sausage, Corn, and Chiles (from Martha Stewart)
- Stuffed Banana Peppers (from Food Network)
- Charred Eggplant with Chile Sauce & Tahini (From Saveur)
- Chile Relleno Quinoa Bites (from Reclaiming Provincial)
- Hot Cornbread (from Taste of Home)
- Jalapeño Cornbread Panzanella (from Two Peas and Their Pod)
- Korean Soy-Braised Beef (from Two Red Bowls)