They can sometimes be purchased whole, but are used dried and sold as red pepper flakes, or ground into Cayenne Pepper or used for commercial sauces.
Varieties include Charleston Hot (quite hot), Hot Portugal, (8 inches / 20 cm long, medium heat), Large Red Thick, (6 inches / 15 cm long, very hot, wrinkled), Long Red Slim (6 inches / 15 cm long, hot), Ring of Fire (4 inches / 10 cm long, hot, don’t even ask where the name comes from), and Super Cayenne (4 inch / 10 cm pods.)
Major producers and exporters are Africa, Japan, India, Louisiana, Mexico, and New Mexico
Chile heat range: Between 30,000 and 50,000 Scoville units.
One pepper = 1/8 teaspoon ground
Cayenne Pepper starts to weaken in a year; the flakes are good for two years.
Cayenne Peppers originated in South America, probably in the French Guyana area. They were brought to Europe by the Portuguese. They were known in England by 1652, when Culpepper’s herbal discussed them as a tooth remedy. They were being grown in England at least by 1771, as they were listed in a garden dictionary of the time.
Literature & Lore
In the area of French Guyana there is a river that the natives called “kian”, which got Westernized into Cayenne, which also became the name of the capital of French Guyana, which is still an overseas territory of France. The Chile was probably named after the river or the city.