Habanero pepper originated in South America – in the Amazon basin – where it spreadto Mexico.It was named after the capitalof Cuba, La Habana (Havana). Even though Cuban cooking doesn’t use habaneros, the pepper gets its namebecause Havana usedto be where it was traded.
The scotch bonnet chili is the Caribbean red pepper. It hails from Jamaica and isthe predominant hot pepper of the Caribbean islands. Despite its name, it hasnothing to do with Scotland – it was named becauseits shape resembles thetraditional Scottish hat.They’re also sometimes called Bonney peppers or Bahama mamas.
The Scoville scale measures the heat of peppers in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). For reference, bell peppers rate 0 units on the Scoville scale because they’re not at all hot. The hottest pepper in the world, Pepper X, rates at 3.18 million units. Habaneros and scotch bonnets have a similar heatlevel of around100,000–350,000on the Scoville scale. This isa huge range, and it depends on the region they were grown, the process, the ripeness, the subspecies, and other factors.
Both peppers have smooth,glossy skin and thin, waxy flesh. When ripe, they usually havean orange or red color. Habaneros have a slim,elongated teardrop shape,with a thick top and a thin tip.Fully ripe, they measure1–2.5" in size.On the other hand, scotchbonnets are round, full,and have a shape similarto the traditional Scottish hat.They are a bit bigger andcan ripen to 1.5–2" in size.
Habaneros havea slightly bitter flavorcompared to scotch bonnetsand a more floral scent.There’s a distinct impression of smokiness in its taste.Scotch bonnets havea much more sweet andfruity taste familiar tothose who enjoy Caribbean cuisine.
Habaneros are frequentlyused in hot pepper sauces.Don’t forget that theseare the hottest peppers usedin cooking, so you shouldtread carefully. Wearing kitchen gloves is recommended if you cut them. Cutting them and removingthe seeds will make themmuch less spicy, and the pieces can beused to enrich stews, soups,and hot sauces.