Manzano Chile: Origin, Flavor, Heat Level, Uses, Storage

Chile Manzano, also known as Chile Peron, is a rare pepper from Mexico. The name “Manzano” comes from the Spanish word “Manzana” which means “apple”. This pepper has a somewhat similar shape to an apple and for this reason, in many places, this pepper is also known as the “apple pepper”. Overall, it’s a medium-hot pepper that is good to eat raw or cooked.

What Are Manzano Chile Peppers?

Chile Manzano is a medium-hot pepper with an apple-like shape and fruitiness. An underlying citrusy note with an earthy flavor makes this pepper preciously dear to many chile lovers. It’s one of the most sought-after salsa chiles for its fruitiness and medium levels of heat.

The soil and cool climatic conditions of the Andes in South America is the ideal habitat for this pepper that belongs to the Capsicum pubescens species of plant in the family Capsicum.  Manzano chile is one of the few chiles that are cultivated in Mexico that are not included in the Capsicum annuum species.

Key Facts In A Gist

  • Capsicum species: Pubescens
  • Origin: South America
  • Heat level: 12,000 – 30,000 SHU
  • Median heat: 21,000 SHU
  • Size: Approximately 1 to 2 inches long and 1.5 inches in diameter
  • Shape: round, apple-like
  • Color: changes from pale green to red or orange on ripening
  • Flavor: Sweet, citrusy
  • Uses: Culinary, eaten raw or cooked, used in salsa and hot sauces
  • Best Substitutes: Chile de Arbol, Serrano, Yellow Wax Pepper

Manzano Pepper Scoville

Manzano chile isn’t a mean pepper but it packs enough punch to make your dishes seriously hot and spicy. The heat level of this pepper ranges from 12,000 to 30,000 Scoville Heat Units. On average, it’s about 3 times hotter than jalapeno pepper with a difference that can go up to twelve times hotter. Other popular peppers comparable to Manzano are serrano and chile de àrbol in terms of heat. The unique flavor of fruitiness and citrusy notes underwhelms the actual heat of this pepper on your palate.

Flavor And Appearance

Manzano peppers taste like a jalapeno but fruiter. The mild sweetness of this pepper is what differentiates it from most other hot peppers. The earthiness of Manzano chile with a hint of fruits and citrusy tang makes it a wonderful addition to salsa. The heat level has enough jab to make your dishes moderately spicy. The thick wall of the pepper makes the Manzano crunchy and tasteful like richer and spicier bell pepper.

With an appearance like a small apple, the size of Manzano pepper ranges from 3-5 cm. When tender, they have a light green or pale yellow color but once they get mature the color changes to dark red or orange. The shape is round like a cherry or apple-shaped bell pepper.

In short, Manzano peppers are apple-shaped peppers the size of a cherry with medium-level heat, mild sweetness, and distinctive fruity flavor. Nutritionally, it has a high concentration of vitamins C and A.

Culinary Uses Of Chile Manzano

A mixture of spicy, sweet, and fruity flavors this chile is excellent for making tasteful salsa. This chile is also popularly used for making hot sauces. The thick walls of Manzano pepper with fleshy texture are perfect for grilling as a spy side dish.

Pickled Manzano peppers taste great for the sweetness of the pepper very well complements the sour vinegar.

Apple pepper is commonly used in soups, juices, sauces, and in cooked dishes like tamales or stir fry with rice or noodles. The seeds are also used for flavoring chocolate drinks. In South American-style meals, Manzano peppers are often served pickled or fresh in a variety of dishes including omelets and sandwiches.

Note, Manzano peppers aren’t good for drying as this pepper with the thick outer skin and solid flesh in the inner part loses its texture and flavor on drying.

Buying And Storage

Fresh Chile Manzano is rarely available outside South America. This pepper is widely cultivated in Mexico and countries that share the Andes mountain region. You can buy it from the Mexican market that sells the fresh produce of the land. If you can’t get hold of fresh peppers, then buy Manzano pepper seeds from online retail platforms like Amazon and grow them in your kitchen garden. Fresh chiles will keep for 2 weeks if kept in vegetable storing trays of your refrigerator. If you cannot find Manzano peppers, you may use a substitute like a jalapeno, serrano, or chile de Arbol in place of it.

Manzano Orange Pepper

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Manzano peppers hotter than habanero?

The median heat of Manzano pepper is about 21,000 SHU compared to the median heat of habanero at 225,000 SHU. Thus habanero peppers can be around 11 times hotter than Manzano peppers on average. The hottest habanero can be up to 30 times hotter than this pepper.

What is Chile Manzano in English?

Chile Manzano, mostly grown in Mexico, is known as “apple or pear pepper” in English, especially in the US. The shape of this pepper is almost similar to these fruits.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Manzano chile peppers, belonging to the Capsicum pubescens species, are unique for their medium-hot, fruity, and citrusy flavor. Originating from South America, they thrive in cool Andean climates and are popular in Mexican cuisine. These peppers, characterized by their apple-like shape and size, possess a heat level ranging from 12,000 to 30,000 SHU, making them significantly hotter than jalapeños.

They are versatile in culinary uses, ideal for salsas, hot sauces, and various cooked dishes, though not suitable for drying.  Fresh Manzano peppers are best stored in the refrigerator, and for those outside South America, substitutes like jalapeño or serrano can be used.

For further reading, find all the facts on Rocoto Pepper which is somewhat similar to Manzano in appearance.