Too Hot To Handle: A quick look at Scotch Bonnet Peppers
The scotch bonnet pepper is named after a Scottish beret called a Tam O’Shanter although it has nothing to do with Scotland and is definitely not grown there. In fact, the pepper is grown in warm and tropical climates and typically found in Jamaica, Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad, and many other Caribbean islands, from Haiti to countries on the African continent. It’s just named after the hat because of its similarity in shape! It is also known as the Bonney pepper (it still sounds as if it’s still on the Scottish theme) or Caribbean red pepper.
I have had a fascination with scotch bonnet peppers far before I started making pepper Jelly. I love the way they can be used to enhance cooking, but before I go there, I’d like to talk about how important it is to handle these pretty little berries with care. Although they are so very colourful and attractive, here’s the warning…don’t play with them! You may be interested to know that I wear PPE when prepping my scotch bonnets for pepper jelly. That includes wearing a double layer of gloves and a mask, as the fumes from the oils (known as capsaicin) are released from the cut peppers and can cause coughing, sneezing or if rubbed onto the skin can burn ferociously. You must be mindful not to rub your eyes. If you are unlucky enough to get it on your skin, watch out!