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Capsicum baccatum is a species of chili pepper that includes the following cultivar and varieties:

  • Aji amarillo, or amarillo chili
  • Peppadew
  • Lemon drop
  • Bishop’s Crown
  • Brazilian Starfish
  • Wild Baccatum

Origins and distribution

The C. baccatum species, particularly the Ají amarillo chili (Aji is the caribean word for chili and/or peppers that the Spaniards colonizers extended to most of Central and South America), is typically associated with Peruvian cuisine, and is considered part of its condiment trinity together with red onion and garlic. Aji amarillo literally means yellow chili; however, the yellow color appears when cooked, as the mature pods are bright orange.

Today the Ají amarillo is mainly seen in South American markets and food stores around the world where Peruvian and Bolivian expatriates are numerous. The wild baccatum species (C. baccatum var. baccatum) is most common in Bolivia with outlier populations in Peru (rare) and Paraguay, northern Argentina, and southern Brazil.[

Description

Pepper varieties in the C. baccatum species have white or cream colored flowers, and typically have a green or gold corolla. The flowers are either insect or self-pollinated. The fruit pods of the baccatum species have been cultivated into a wide variety of shapes and sizes, unlike other capsicum species which tend to have a characteristic shape. The pods typically hang down, unlike a Capsicum frutescens plant, and can have a citrus or fruity flavor.

Culinary usage

Aji amarillo is one of the ingredients of Peruvian cuisine and Bolivian cuisine as a condiment, especially in many dishes and sauces. In Peru the chilis are mostly used fresh, and in Bolivia dried and ground. Common dishes with aji amarillo are the Peruvian stew Aji de Gallina (“Chili of Hen”), Huancaina sauce and the Bolivian Fricase Paceno, among others.

Use by Moche

The Moche culture often represented fruits and vegetables in their art, including Ají amarillo peppers.

Written on February 29th, 2012 , Botany, Vegetables Tags:

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