For many years people who loved spicy foods always told those who did not, “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”. Well, now spicy food lovers and spicy food haters can join together in a delicious and happy union thanks to the new, heatless habanero pepper. The Habanada, which is a heatless habanero, is the pepper that everyone can enjoy. Typically when you think about spicy peppers the habanero first comes to mind. Known for its extreme heat and flavor, this pepper reaches up to 425,000 on the Scoville Scale. This scale measures the heat level and intensity of various peppers. The habanero pepper comes in mustard, orange, peach, red, white, bonnet orange, bonnet red, bonnet yellow, golden and chocolate. The mustard habanero is the least spicy of the habanero family, but it still packs some pretty intense heat. If you hate that mouth on fire feeling after eating anything with so much as a habanero seed in it, do not be afraid to try the Habanada. You will be pleasantly surprised.
This completely heatless habanero packs the entire flavor without the same hot and fiery punch as a regular habanero pepper. Often times when people try this pepper they are ready and have water, bread, or milk to tame the flames in their mouth. Once they realize there is no moment where your mouth suddenly feels like a five alarm fire, they are pleasantly delighted by the unique taste. Similar to the sweet taste of a bell pepper, many have mentioned that the Habanada has a sweet, almost melon like taste; others have mentioned a hint of guava as well and floral like qualities as well. The Habanada’s taste is unlike any habanero pepper anyone has tasted before. In fact, the Habanada allows you to be able to actually taste the pepper itself. A regular habanero can feel so hot in your mouth you will lose the ability to taste and can only feel the heat. For many, this feeling that a regular habanero gives you is such a turn-off and noses will turn at any dish containing the regular habanero pepper.
Through a naturally occurring genetic mutation, the heatless habanero was born. Michael Mazourek, the man behind the heatless pepper, first discovered the idea when he found a random hot pepper that had seemingly lost its spice somewhere along its gene line. Inspired by this heatless pepper that had a melon like taste, he began breeding regular habaneros with the randomly discovered heatless pepper. He tried other peppers but found that they tasted terrible and felt strange in the mouth. It took a few tries before they found the parent plants that made the best tasting heatless pepper, but when they did, the culinary and agricultural world was astounded. Proudly dubbed the “Habanada” as a play on the words “habanero nada”, people were delighted by its unique taste and floral like qualities. The Habanada pepper is now proudly served in restaurants all over thanks to Michael’s initial discovery.
The best part about the Habanada is that you do not have to go to a restaurant to find it. The Habanada is easy to grow at home and just as delicious when made in your own kitchen. These plants love full heat and direct sunlight and once they start to flower, they will produce about a pint of peppers per week. They taste best when harvested when their coloring has reached a bright tangerine orange. At this point, they should be about 3 inches long and since they have zero heat, they make a great and easy snack. In case you can’t eat them all before they go bad, there are many ways to preserve your bountiful Habanada harvest. Hang the Habanada from a string so that it is hanging upside down and leave hanging for several weeks. You can also place the pepper in a food dehydrator. The pepper can also be preserved by freezing it; just place the pepper in an air tight baggy or wrap in tin foil and place in your freezer. A delicious way to preserve the pepper and something that would make an interesting gift for the foodie in your life is preserving the pepper in olive oil. Boil or grill the pepper until the skin is bubbling; be sure not to over cook or blacken the pepper too much. Once its ready, remove the seeds and skin and slice into thin pieces. Add the slices to a clean jar and pour in the olive oil. It is such a unique and thoughtful gift and a great way to use peppers you will not be able to eat all yourself. Habanada seeds can be found at your local seed store or ordered online.