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Rabbi Dovid Cohen
Administrative Rabbinical Coordinator of the cRc
Peppers come in many varieties from the mild common bell pepper to the very hottest pepper, known as the habanero pepper. Some of the most common varieties are Arbol, Bell, Cayenne, Green Chile, Habanero, Jalapeno, Manzano, Malagueta, Pimento, Poblano,1 Serrano, and Tabasco.2 They are Group 1 when they are sold fresh, dried, or powdered, but require hashgachah when they are canned or pickled.3
“Chipotle Peppers” are not the name of a variety of peppers, but rather are Jalapeno peppers which have been smoked and dried (and are often sold in a ground, powder form), and require hashgachah to guarantee that the smoking equipment is not used for non-kosher items.4
Although certain peppers are also referred to as “chili peppers”, chili powder is often not plain ground peppers, but may be a blend of spices which could include kosher-sensitive ingredients.5 Therefore, chili powder requires hashgachah.
1 Dried Poblanos are called ancho or mulato chilies.
2 The “heat” of a pepper is measured in “Scoville units”, and the ratings for some of the peppers listed are as follows: Arbol – 15,000-30,000; Bell – 0; Green Chile – 1,000-2,000; Habanero – 200,000-300,000; Jalapeno – 2,500-8,000, Manzano – 30,000-50,000; Poblano – 1,00-2,000; Serrano – 8,000-22,000. This information can be found at https://scovillescale.org/chili-pepper-scoville-scale/.
3 Canned peppers may be produced on equipment used for non-kosher products, and the pickling agent used for pickled peppers may be non-kosher (e.g. wine vinegar).
4 Some have experimented with creating Chipotle peppers by adding liquid smoke to dried jalapeno peppers (and this would raise its own kashrus concerns), but it seems that these efforts have not yet been successful.
5 This is similar to the way “curry powder” refers to different spice blends which might contain kosher-sensitive ingredients, and does not always refer to mere ground curry.