In Mexico, specifically in the Yucatan region, peppers of the chinense species are known as Habañero, which translates to mean “from Havana (Cuba).” Commercial production of the Habañero takes place predominately in Mexico with smaller amounts coming out of Costa Rica, Belize, California and Texas.
Depending upon the cultivator, fully mature Habañero peppers will be either red or orange in color, with orange being the most common and preferred. The Orange Habañero is one of the hottest varieties of Habañero peppers. In fact, Dominican priest Francisco Ximenez wrote of the Habañero in 1722, saying that a single pepper would “make a bull unable to eat."
The skin of the Orange Habañero is thin and waxy with slight exterior wrinkling. The pod has a distinctive lantern like shape and is petite, measuring typically no bigger than two inches in length and one to two inches in width. A close relative of the scotch bonnet pepper, the Orange Habañero has a similar shape, flavor and hotness. With an aromatic, apricot scent, the Orange Habañero offers an intense and pungent heat at 200,000 – 300,000 Scoville units.
The flavor of the Orange Habañero is associated with Caribbean seasoning, most specifically in jerk sauces. This marries well with tropical fruits, lime, avocados, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, allspice, fish and grilled meats, as well as tequila and mescal based cocktails.