Betcha didn’t know you could eat the entire chili pepper!
Your love for chili peppers doesn’t need to stop at the juicy pepper. There are many pepper varieties where you can safely eat the leaves and add them to your favorite dishes.
Eating the leaves of chili peppers is a common culinary practice in Korea and the Philippines. They are boiled and cooked and used in various recipes including Chicken Tinola, which is a type of soup popular in Asian culture that uses hot pepper leaves to add flavor. In Korea, chili leaves are used to make Kimchi. In other cultures like Russia, they boil the leaves and with salt for the winter months using them in dishes to make sour cream and kefir.
When boiled, the leaves add a subtle flavor to the dish - a mild leafy flavor mixed with a bit of sweet. Most people compare the taste of a cooked pepper leave to that of spinach. However some pepper leaves are not safe to eat, some can even be poisonous. The toxins in the leaves are mostly found in the bigger leaves on the pepper plant, picking the baby leaves is much safer. Cooking the leaves is also a must, you should never eat the leaves raw.
Pepper Leaves Safe To Eat
All Leaves of the Capsicum pepper family (below) are safe to eat if boiled or cooked.
- Capsicum Frutescens
this includes the African Bird’s Eye pepper, Kambuzi pepper, Tabasco pepper, Malagueta pepper. The plants may also contain flowers which are not edible.
- Capsicum Annum
this includes the banana pepper, cayenne pepper, and serrano chili peppers
Pepper Leaves Not Safe to Eat
Most leaves that come from the Solanaceous crops like bell peppers and also eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes.
Pepper Leaves are also very nutritious and contain high levels of Vitamin A and C. The leaves are also rich in antioxidants that can prevent damage to cells.