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Aji Limo Chile Peppers
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Aji Limo chiles are small, 2 to 3 inch conical peppers with thin, slightly ribbed walls. The chiles mature from green to an array of colors from bright yellow to orange, even red and purple. Though, the yellow and red varieties are more common. Aji Limo peppers have a very floral and fruity aroma, similar to the related habanero peppers. Beneath the spiciness there are hints of citrus. The Ajo Limo is spicy, it is rated 30,000-60,000 on the Scoville scale, which is also similar to the habanero.
Aji Limo is available in the late fall and through the winter months.
Aji Limo chile peppers are native to Peru and were named after the region of Lima, surrounding the capital city of the same name. The Aji Limo pepper is a very pungent member of Capsicum chinense, though some reports have it classified as Capsicum baccatum. “Aji” is the name for chile peppers in South America, and most ajis are from the same species as the Limo chile. Aji Limo peppers are sometimes confused with another pepper, the aji mochero, which also has a bright yellow color at maturity but only ripens from green to yellow. In the United States, both peppers are marketed and sold under the name ‘Lemon Drop’ peppers.
Aji Limo peppers, like other members of the Capsicum genus, contain high amounts of vitamin C and A, as well as essential minerals like potassium, magnesium and iron. The capsaicin responsible for the spiciness of the Aji Limo pepper helps speed metabolism and offers beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
The spicy Aji Limo peppers are traditionally used in ceviche recipes and in salsas. The pepper with the citrusy-spice pairs well with fish and other Peruvian dishes, like spicy chicken, marinated beef tenderloin (lomo saltado) or stews made with tripe (cau cau) or meat and vegetables (carapulca). The yellow, orange, red or purple peppers add color to any dish. Rinse peppers under cool water and dry before using. Wear gloves to avoid the burning sensation from the capsaicin in the peppers, and use only as much of the pepper as is necessary for the desired level of heat. Aji Limo peppers will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week if loosely wrapped in plastic.
Aji peppers are typically thought to be members of the species Capsicum baccatum; however, because wild Capsicum varieties tend to cross pollinate very easily, some classifications are harder to determine. Many sources cite the Aji Limo as Capsicum chinense (chi-NEN-see), a species that includes habaneros, and some of the spiciest chiles known to man. Others even cite the Aji Limo as C. frutescens, which includes the tabasco pepper as its most well-known variety. Through all the confusion of the species, it can safely be said that most varieties cultivated today are either Capsicum annuum (bell peppers), C. frutescens, C. chinense or a cross of the three. It is very likely that the Aji Limo pepper is a cross of C. chinense and C. baccatum.
Aji Limo peppers are native to Peru, specifically the Lima region along the western coast of central Peru. The peppers are highly variable and can mature to a variety of colors including purple, red, orange and the more commonly known yellow. Aji peppers date back to 400 B.C. where they were known to grow on the western slopes of the Andes mountains, yet archaeological evidence shows that peppers may have been used for food as long as 8,000 years ago. The spicy peppers from the Lima region of South America are widely used in the cuisine of the area. Outside of Peru, Aji Limo peppers can be found in home gardens or through small farms at local farmer’s markets.
Recipes that include Aji Limo Chile Peppers. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Talbot Garden||Ají Limón Jelly|
|New World Review||Aji Seco|
|The Chili King||Aji Lemon & Mango Sauce|
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