Botanical name Capsicum frutescens ▪ Family name Solanaceae Cayenne pepper is a very fine powder made from especially hot varieties of capsicum peppers. It is named on account of its origins in the Cayenne region of French Guyana. The placenta and seeds are included in the powder, adding to its ‘hotness’, so it should be used judiciously. Native range Central America, South America, Caribbean Islands Major producers India, Japan, East Africa Harvesting Most capsicum peppers are grown as annuals and harvesting of the ripe fruits occurs about 3 months after planting. The whole peppers are dried and then powdered. Taste and aroma The aroma of cayenne is intensely pungent. The flavour is tart, slightly smoky, pungent, and very hot. Culinary uses Cayenne is widely used as a seasoning (in tiny amounts), in savoury biscuits, and cheese and egg dishes. It is commonly used in ethnic dishes such as Mexican chilli, Chinese hot and sour soup, and Indian curries. The main point to remember about cayenne is that it is very hot, so follow the recipe carefully. You can always add more, but you cannot take it out! Storage It should be kept in an airtight container away from light. Click here for more information on cayenne pepper.