Capsicum: The Truth of Pod Types

Capsicum: The Truth of Pod Types

Capsicum Pod Types

Pod types are used to classify – horticulturally, not botanically (if taken strictly) – variants of chile peppers according to their pod shapes.

Oftentimes, the answer given to “What variety of chile pepper do I have here?” is, and can only be, a pod type rather than an actual variety. It is those, after all, which are the better, recognizable system of classification for different landraces and varieties making up a group of similar-looking peppers.

They also tend to culinarily behave quite similar, and thus get used in particular recipes.

There is some chance for confusion anyways, because pod types can look rather similar across species. One can, for example, find pequin and even tepin types not just with the actual pequin or chiltepin peppers (which belong to C. annuum L.), but also among the other species of Capsicum, the bird ají that is Capsicum baccatum var. baccatum or the Charapita which is a (wild) Capsicum chinense.

Such confusion is easily clarified, and the general system useful. It is much more disturbing to see people fail to recognize the diversity among the chile peppers and to just label anything and every ingredient that is chile pepper-like with “chilli.”

Chiltepin

Capsicum annuum L. var. glabriusculum – Tepin type

small, spheric, growing erect, red (usually)

Already, an example of a pod type which may appear to be found among other species, especially C. chinense, as well (see Charapita).

Capsicum annuum L. var. annuum

The cultivated species with the largest number of varieties…

Pequin pod type

Pequin

or: Bird Pepper, although the latter is more commonly (?) used for pod types of other species, especially the standard type of C. frutescens (except for Tabasco/Malagueta).
Closely related to the tepin, this shape also appears among wild species/forms, it is different only by larger size and less globular a form.
One example: the (true) variety NuMex Bailey Piquin (developed to be machine harvested)

Bell pepper pod type
Foto: Arche Noah

Bell – Blockpaprika

The classical – used green, or in its ripe red or yellow (or other) color – paprika eaten as a vegetable
Varieties: Bujan, Danube, Neusiedler Ideal

Pimiento pod type

Pimiento

Also a type of paprika (as in: non-pungent, thick-fleshed, sweet), common in Spain
e.g. Luesia Morrón de Conserva


Foto: Arche Noah

Tomato – Paradeispaprika

paprika type with flattened fruits
e.g. Splendid

Yellow Wax pod type

Yellow Wax – Wachspaprika

in its “green” state, nearly white, wax-like greenish-yellow fruits (usually ripening red)
e.g. Ferenc Tender

Cherry pod type

Cherry – Kirschpaprika

small, spherical fruits (but a lot bigger and thicker-fleshed than tepin), rather high pungency
e.g. Koral, Gelber Kirsch

Cascabel

Ancho pod typeMulato pod type

Ancho/Mulato/Pasilla

Ancho and Mulato are sometimes labelled Poblano; and/or Poblano is the fruit in its fresh form, Ancho is the dried form…
What’s typical is the brick-red color, sweet taste, and mid-high pungency of Ancho; Mulato is similar, but ripens to a chocolate-brown.

Pasilla pod type Pasilla, in its unripe state, is dark green and ripens to chocolate-brown, approaching black; its shape is rather unique: elongate, somewhat rippled (quite similar to ají).

All three – Ancho, Mulato und Pasilla – are the main chile peppers (Mark Miller once called them the “holy trinity”) for Moles; Ancho is also used in preparing chiles rellenos (filled chile peppers).

Cayenne pod type

Cayenne

Mirasol

Guajillo

New Mexican

Closely related to different landraces from New Mexico, this pod type was developed at the beginning of the 20th. century at New Mexico State University. Varieties belonging to this type include Anaheim, New Mexican 6-4, …
Used mainly for chiles rellenos.

Jalapeño pod type

Jalapeño

Probably the best known pod type of all chiles, the jalapeno is an excellent example for the problem with chile pepper varieties”:
Landraces of jalapeno don’t usually have a name, except maybe for the region/city where they are cultivated. Jalapeno itself is not (yet) a variety name, however. There are “true” varieties, for example the TAM Mild Jalapeño (developed by Texas A&M University)

Serrano

Typical barrel shape; used in pico de gallo.

Santaka

A Japanese variety/landrace which seems to have made it to its own pod type… rather typically what one might think of when hearing “chilli,” with mid-size pods growing erect, in bushels, ripening red

Ornamental

Typically with a shape similar to the pequin type (or Santaka), the difference being that the show value is more important: the pods also grow erect on the plants, but there are even more of them and they usually go through different colors while they ripen.
E.g. Chinese Five Color, Numex Sunrise/Sunset, Centennial, …

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Capsicum chinense Jacqu.

Habanero

Scotch Bonnet pod type

Scotch Bonnet

Fatalii/Caribbean Seasoning Pepper

 

Rocotillo pod type

Rocotillo

Charapita

Small round pods rather similar to chiltepin/tepin, ripening to yellow, but recognizable as C. chinense not least because of the typical smell.

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Capsicum frutescens L.

Tabasco/Malagueta

The Tabasco pepper is easily the best known type/variety of C. frutescens. The problem, however, is that (although there are varieties of Tabasco) it is basically impossible to differentiate between a Tabasco, a (Brazilian) Malagueta, and even Asian “bird peppers” which are obviously C. frutescens – and look just the same.

One small differentiation that makes sense is between C. frutescens which ripen red and those which ripen yellow.

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Capsicum baccatum var. pendulum (Willd.) Eshbaugh

Aji pod type

Aji (colorado, amarillo, panca)

The characteristic ají/C. baccatum of South America, with just the little problem that ají is used as generic term for chile pepper…

The different kinds contrasted are differentiated through the different colors they get when ripe: colorado turns red, amarillo yellow. Ají panca turns chocolate-brown, but really wouldn’t belong here because it is C. chinense sind (but I put it here because of its geographical origin, name, and shape)

Bishop's Crown pod type

Bishop’s Crown – Glockenpaprika

A typical, easily recognizable shape.
One note: pungency tends to be concentrated in the middle “cupola”-like part whereas the rim is often non-pungent.

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Capsicum pubescens Ruiz & Pav.

Rocoto/Manzano

The red-ripening form of C. pubescens; it would be possible to be more exact, depending on whether the pods develop a “neck” (like the one in the picture) or not.
Rocoto is the label used in the Andes; manzano the Mexican one.

Canario pod type

Canario

The (Mexican) label for yellow-ripening forms of C. pubescens.


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