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A large red cayenne
A large red cayenne
The cayenne pepper—also known as the Guinea spice, cow-horn pepper, aleva, bird pepper, or, especially in its powdered form, red pepper—is a hot chili pepper used to flavor dishes. It remains green on the plant even when mature, once picked may or may not turn red which is when it is normally eaten, but also eaten while still green. It is a cultivar of Capsicum annuum related to bell peppers, jalapeños, paprika and others. The Capsicum genus is in the nightshade family (Solanaceae).
It is named for the city of Cayenne in French Guiana.
The fruits are generally dried and ground, or pulped and baked into cakes, which are then ground and sifted to make the powdered spice of the same name.
Cayenne is used in cooking spicy dishes, as a powder or in its whole form (such as in Korean, Sichuan and other Asian cuisine), or in a thin, vinegar-based sauce. It is generally rated at 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville units. It is also used as an herbal supplement, and was mentioned by Nicholas Culpeper in his Complete Herbal, 1653, as "guinea pepper" a misnomer for "guiana pepper".
Most cultivated varieties of cayenne, Capsicum annuum, can be grown in a variety of locations and need approximately 100 days to mature. Peppers prefer warm, moist, nutrient-rich soil in a warm climate. The plants grow to about 2–4 feet (0.6–1 metre) in height and should be spaced 3 ft (1 m) apart. In gardens the plants may be planted as close as 1 ft (30 cm) apart in a raised bed. This may reduce the yield of an individual plant but will increase yields per unit area.
Chilis are mostly perennial in sub-tropical and tropical regions; however, they are usually grown as annuals in temperate climates. They can be overwintered if protected from frost, and require some pruning.
Cayenne pepper, by weight, is relatively high in vitamin A. It also contains vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin C, riboflavin, potassium and manganese. However, given the very small amount of cayenne pepper typically consumed in a serving, it makes a negligible contribution to overall dietary intake of these nutrients.
Cayenne pepper consumption dilates the blood vessels and speeds the metabolism due to the high amounts of capsaicin. This increases circulation and blood flow to all major organs which facilitates oxygen and nutrient delivery. Some research suggests that cayenne pepper may support a healthy energy balance while suppressing appetite. It has also been shown to aid in the oxidation adipose tissue., regulate high blood pressure, promote healthy liver function and tissue production, help regulate the digestive system, promote healthy mucus production in the membranes that line internal organs.
Cayenne is a popular spice in a variety of cuisines. It is employed variously in its fresh form, dried and powdered, and as dried flakes. It is also a key ingredient in a variety of hot sauces, particularly those employing vinegar as a preservative. Cayenne pepper is often spread on sandwiches or similar items to add a spicy flavor. Buffalo-wing sauce often contains Cayenne pepper.