Whether it’s on the shelf of a restaurant or your kitchen, you can see red pepper flakes everywhere.
There’s no doubt that we all have used or experienced red pepper flakes on our food, at least once.
But have you ever wondered what they are?
Questions like, where do they come from, what peppers are used, and are their seeds used, must be circulating your mind. No? Just us then.
Despite the popularity of this ingredient across the world, there aren’t many people aware of what red pepper flakes are. However, it’s time we find out and answer all those questions.
What are red pepper flakes?
Let’s begin by answering the main question. What are red pepper flakes?
A simple answer would be that they are a spice made up of dried and crushed chilli peppers. But this won’t be enough to answer this question; we need to go deeper into their origins.
If we trace origins of this spice, we’ll end up with the capsicum annum family, a plant species consisting of chillies and peppers, and you’re quite familiar with this species. Jalapeño, Fresno, bell peppers, and Anaheim peppers are all related to this family.
Red pepper flakes are made up of a variety of peppers from this species. However, they are usually made from cayenne peppers.
It’s worth noting that companies use different blends and ratios of different types of peppers to create unique tastes of red pepper flakes.
It’s also important to note that red pepper flakes are different from chilli flakes. Chilli flakes are made of a single type of pepper, while the contrary, as discussed earlier, is made up of several pepper types, which creates a multi-dimensional flavour.
You must’ve noticed the difference yourself; a red pepper flakes jar has a variety of different seeds with different colour shades, but a jar of chilli flakes has a uniform texture and colour.
How are red pepper flakes made?
Having discussed what red chilli flakes are, you must be wondering how they are manufactured.
After harvesting these different peppers to be combined in a jar, they are first dried up. The drying stage can take a day to around three weeks, depending on the size and type of the peppers. Larger ones take a longer time.
The drying duration is also dependent on the method that is being used to dry them. In factories, chillies are dried rapidly using machines like dehydrators and industrial ovens, while at a smaller scale, they take longer to dry.
After they’ve been effectively dried up, it’s time for them to be crushed and pulverized. Again, this process is quite efficient in factories, as they have pulverizing machines to do this instantly. Some people even crush these chillies by hand in some areas. Everything from the skin of the pepper to the seeds is crushed.
At the end of this stage, red pepper flakes have been created successfully, and are ready to be poured into containers, so that they can be shipped to restaurants are stores, where you can enjoy them with your food.
Substitute for red pepper flakes
There’s no doubt that red pepper flakes are frequently used at our homes in great dishes, they’re not just used to achieve heat, unlike chilli flakes. They have their unique taste coupled with a kick of heat.
But what happens when you run out of them or forgot to pick them up from the store? Don’t worry; there is a substitute.
If there’s a jar of chilli powder or cayenne powder in your home, you won’t have any problems cooking your food without red pepper flakes. As you now know that cayenne peppers are the majority of peppers used, the cayenne powder will be a good substitute. However, you’ll still be missing the texture of seeds.
Where to use red pepper flakes?
Red pepper flakes can be used in almost every dish and always enhance the taste of that dish. However, there are a few dishes which you simply cannot enjoy without them.
The first one, as we all know, are pizzas. This is the reason why you see so many red pepper flake jars in pizza places. They’re known to be the centrepiece of everyone’s tables while eating pizza. Red pepper flakes add in a good taste of spice to pizzas and make them even more mouthwatering.
If you’re tired of using pepper flakes on pizzas, then you should try topping your spaghetti and meatballs with them. Just roll your meatballs in these spicy flakes and create the best spaghetti ever. Moreover, you can try using them in lasagnas and similar foods involving tinned tomatoes.
Health benefits of red pepper flakes
Like all-natural ingredients, these are also known to have a few health benefits.
Most of these benefits come from the capsaicin compound in them. This compound can reduce the chances of getting many different types of cancer like skin cancer, pancreatic and prostate cancer. Moreover, this compound may increase your body’s metabolism, which makes you burn more calories per day.
These spicy flakes are great for people looking to watch what they eat, as they can also reduce hunger.
Additionally, red pepper flakes have antioxidants that help fight stress and are suitable for your overall health. These can also reduce digestive problems, inflammation, and pain. A teaspoon of these flakes contains only six calories, while it has vitamins A, B-6, C, E, iron, magnesium, and even potassium.
Where can you find them?
You can find these amazingly healthy, yet tasty spices at any store when you buy groceries. Don’t forget to pick them up. Otherwise, you’ll have to think of a substitute.
Or if you don’t want to go to the supermarket every time, you can grow your own organic and even healthier, pepper flakes right at your home. The weather conditions for growing red peppers are excellent during this time.
Now you’re fully aware of what you’re sprinkling on your food when you use red pepper flakes. From the origin of red pepper flakes to their destiny, you now have answers to everything red pepper related!
Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.
This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!