Types of Pepper: Add a Touch Intense to Your Meals

There are several types of pepper, each with different characteristics. Get to know them better, spice up your meals and surprise your guests.

Pepper is a common name given to several plants, their fruits and the spices of them obtained, whose flavor is usually spicy. There are various types of pepper, which differ essentially by the degree of maturation and active compound that gives them their properties.

The fruit of the pimenteira comes from many fruits tiny – each one with a size similar to that of the seed of the opium poppy – built-in one ear floral. The fruits contain the alcaloide piperine or capsaicin, responsible for the sensation spicy.

In Portugal, as a rule, the term “pepper” is not applied to plants of the genus Capsicum, whose alcaloide is the capsaicin, for which they usually use the terms red pepper, cayenne or chilli, with the first being used more and more for the varieties more sweet, and the other to the varieties of spicy.

Whatever the type of pepper which you will consume, learn that all have health benefits, some of which still lack scientific information.


Among the main types of pepper used in the culinary world, stand out for their relevance to the following:


The black-pepper (Piper nigrum), also known as pepper-round, is one of the oldest spices known. Its grains, dried and ground, are widely used in the cuisine of the various countries.

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It has a strong flavor, slightly spicy, from its active chemical compound, piperine.

It is a fruit of the size of a small pea, which initially has the color green (state immature), then turns red and finally black.

With a scent as well, spicy and quite burning, ground black pepper combines very well with almost any dish, the salt, and it can also give life to sauces, salads, eggs or cheese dishes, among others. To make your dishes more healthy add an extra dash of ground black pepper as an alternative to salt.


To produce the green pepper, the ears of corn are harvested in state immature, the fruits are placed in brine and drain for several days.

The final product is sold vacuum packed or in hermetically sealed containers, mainly to countries such as Germany and Belgium.


To prepare white pepper, the ears of corn are harvested already in a state ripe when the fruits have a yellow or red.

The white pepper is obtained by removing the bark to the black of dried fruit. In this process, this type of pepper retains the piperine, so that it is as spicy as the black pepper, although it has less aroma.

Due to its characteristics, is used mainly in meat dishes and roasts.


The red pepper is prepared from the ears of corn fully ripe. As well as other peppers (ex: tabasco, habanero, jalapeño), is a fruit of trees of the genus Capsicum, being, in this case, the active ingredient capsaicin.

Can be used with chicken and white meats in general, soups, casseroles, salads, cooked and anchovies, and may even be a substitute for black pepper.


Also called pepper-long-javanese, indian or indonesian, is a plant cultivated for its fruit which is usually dried and used as spice and condiment.

Pepper-long shows similarities with the black pepper, with a flavor similar to this, but usually more spicy.

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Currently, the pepper-long is an ingredient very rare in the culinary european, but can still be found in pickles, indian, some spice blends from North Africa, and in the kitchen indonesian and malay.

In addition to these, we also highlight the cayenne Pepper, the Pepper-malagueta, also called piri-piri, jindungo or chilli Pepper-murupi and Pepper-sweet, also called sweet pepper.


The Scale of Scoville is used to measure the degree of stinging or pungency of plants in the genus Capsicum.

This scale has emerged in 1912, when the pharmacist Wilbur Scoville developed a method to measure the “degree of heat” caused by the different types of pepper. This test is called Test Sensory of Scoville or Procedure of Dilution and Proof.

In the original test, Scoville blended pepper pure with a solution of water with sugar. Then, a panel of tasters drank this solution. The more solution of water and sugar is needed to dilute a pepper, the higher its poignancy.

After that, the method was improved and were created by the heat units Scoville (Scoville Heat Units, or SHU).

Thus, when the 1 cup of pepper that is equivalent to 1000 cups of water corresponds to 1 unit in the scale of Scoville. By way of example, Capsaicin, when pure, is the equivalent of 15 million units Scoville.

The scale Scoville can be extrapolated to express the burning of other substances, such as for example the resiniferatoxina, an alkaloid present in the sap of some plant species, which reaches the degree of 16 billion units Scoville (SHU).


Despite the burning sensation that the intake of different types of pepper can cause, the two main active principles (capsaicin and piperine) promote, in reality, the release of endorphins – the true natural painkillers produced by the brain and that are extremely potent in combating pain.

With effect, after ingestion of any of the types of hot pepper, the capsaicin or piperine activates receptors sensitive in the tongue and in the mouth. These receptors transmit to the brain a message which, in turn, generates, instantly, a response of the brain in order to save us from the burning sensation: increased salivation and perspiration, in order to refresh us.

In addition, although the pepper does not cause any damage actual physical, brain, starts, immediately, the production of endorphins, which remain some time in our body, provoking a feeling of well-being.

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The stronger the pepper, the more endorphins are produced! And this is something extremely useful to counteract some of the pain, including migraines.

The substances of spicy pepper improves digestion by stimulating the gastric secretions and have anti-flatulence.

In addition, and contrary to what would be expected, these compounds stimulate the circulation in the stomach, promoting healing of wounds (ulcers), when combined with healthy eating habits.


In addition to these effects that are already proven on the part of the active compounds of the peppers, there are still some ongoing investigations about the potential anti-inflammatory, antioxidant , and therefore anti-carcinogenic and anti-aging.