Aji Panca Chile Peppers
Inventory, 5 lbs : 0
Aji Panca chile peppers have an elongated lantern-shape that measures from 3 to 5 inches long and 1 and a half inches across. Aji Panca peppers start out green and mature to a very deep red to almost mahogany. The peppers have medium-thick walls, and a sweet smoky flavor with subtle fruity notes that can be likened to taste of blueberries. Aji Panca peppers are in the 1,000 to 1,500 range on the Scoville heat scale and have the same amount of spice as a mild poblano pepper. Removing the seeds and ribs, where the capsaicin is concentrated, will remove any spice from the peppers. Dried Aji Panca is a chocolate brown color and has a flavor that can be described as raisin-like, with smokiness and hints of berry.
Aji Panca chile peppers are available in the late summer and through the fall months.
Aji Panca (pronounced “pahn-ka”) chile peppers are native to Peru and are botanically classified as Capsicum chinense, though some sources have the pepper listed as Capsicum baccatum. While most ajis of South America are typically members of C. baccatum, the Aji Panca has features resembling the habanero and other lantern chiles from the C. chinense family. The Aji Panca pepper is the second most popular pepper in Peru, and is sometimes referred to as Aji Brown for its earthy brown tone when fully mature.
Aji Panca peppers contain much of the same beneficial vitamins and minerals as bell peppers and other Capsicum varieties. The chiles are a good source of vitamins A, C as well as potassium, magnesium, and iron. The small amount of capsaicin in the Aji Panca peppers acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Aji Panca peppers are most often dried and used whole or ground into chile powder. Aji Panca peppers are typically harvested when they are fully ripened, when the skin is almost brown and slightly wrinkled. Some farmers will even leave the peppers on the plant to dry a bit before harvesting. The smoky-flavored peppers can be dried in the sun or dried in an oven on the lowest temperature setting. Aji Panca peppers are used to spice up stews and sauces, and pair well with fish. The South American peppers are used in many traditional dishes along the Pacific coast of Peru. The peppers pair well with rice dishes and add a complex flavor to soups. Fresh, mature peppers can be roasted or stuffed with meats and rice. In Peru, they are blended with oil and a touch of vinegar to make a paste and used as a condiment and a rub for meats and poultry. Aji Panca peppers will store up to a week when fresh and wrapped loosely in plastic. Dried peppers will store up to six months when kept in an airtight container.
There are over 300 varieties of chile peppers in Peru. Peppers have grown in Peru for over 7,000 years. Many historians believe that the aji peppers and quinoa native to Peru are some of the “lost crops” of the Incas. Aji peppers are thought to be the first spices used by the ancient Peruvians to season their meals.
Aji Panca peppers are native to the coastal areas of Peru, in western South America. Fossilized peppers have been found in archaeological digs throughout the country, and were first cultivated more than 5000 years ago. The name “aji” originally comes from the language of the native Arawak peoples of the Caribbean, and was brought to South America by the Spanish during explorations in the 17th and 18th centuries. Aji Panca peppers are the second most common peppers found in Peru, next to the aji amarillo. Outside of Peru, Aji Panca peppers can be found through seed companies and though small farms at farmer’s markets.