When you see Wiri Wiri peppers for the first time, they can be confused for little cherries. However, these peppers aren’t sweet like cherries but are scorching hot peppers.
Wiri Wiri peppers are small peppers that are very hot despite their size. They are used frequently in Guyanese cuisine. The Wiri Wiri pepper grows upright and turns from green to orange to red when mature. These peppers are fruity with tomato undertones.
In this article, we will discuss Wiri Wiri peppers, including where they are from, their other names, how they look, and what you can do with them. You’ll also learn about other peppers similar to Wiri Wiri, how they taste, where you can buy them.
Where are Wiri Wiri Peppers From?
Wiri Wiri peppers are from a small South American country, Guyana. They were initially found deep in the local rainforest.
These peppers do well in hot climates and are rarely found outside Caribbean, South American, and Yucatan cuisines.
Because of Wiri Wiri peppers’ cherry-like appearance, they are also referred to as Hot cherry or Bird cherry pepper. Other names are Guyana cherry pepper and Guyana Wiri Wiri.
Wiri Wiri peppers are about a half-inch (1.27 cms) in diameter and have a cherry-like appearance. They have medium-thin flesh with upright pods. They are also known as hot cherry peppers.
These peppers are usually green in color during their early stages and turn orange as they mature. The peppers will eventually turn red when allowed to ripen fully. Red Wiri Wiri peppers are the hottest and the spiciest compared to unripened green and orange ones. Said another way, the Wiri Wiri pepper, like other peppers, gets hotter and spicier as they mature.
The Wiri Wiri pepper also has an ornamental quality as they look like festive bulbs standing upright on the plant.
Wiri Wiri peppers are scorching hot and can be described as little cherry bombs. They may look like cherries, but one bite will make you change your mind. They range from 100,000-350,000 Scoville heat units on the Scoville scale.
The peppers fall in the hot chili category, though they appear at the lower end of the range. The heat comes on immediately when consumed and it is 40 times hotter than a Jalapeño pepper.
The chilis might look small in size, but the moment they get into your mouth, you’re instantly struck by an intense burning sensation.
Wiri Wiri peppers have a fruity tomato-like flavor, which adds a twist to their hot taste. The balance in the heat and flavor makes them unique and a favorite for the Guyanese and other people around the world.
Additionally, their aroma is fruity, with hints of teriyaki and chai, so they make a great flavorful addition to any dish.
Some other peppers similar to Wiri Wiri include the Scotch bonnet, Habanero, and Jalapeño peppers. These other peppers are not as hot as Wiri Wiri, although Scotch bonnet and Habanero peppers are very close contenders on the Scoville scale.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these peppers.
Scotch bonnets are also known as Bonney peppers or Caribbean red peppers. The Scotch bonnet pepper ranks at 100,000-350,000 Scoville heat units.
Ripe Scotch bonnets can change from orange to yellow to peach or chocolate brown.
They are primarily used in Caribbean dishes such as Jamaican hot sauce and jerk chicken. These peppers are also known as Bonney peppers, goat peppers, Bahama mama, and boabs bonnet. Scotch bonnets are easy to find in grocery stores and food markets.
This is a hot variety of chili originally from the Amazon. Habanero peppers measure around 0.8-2.4 inches (2-6 cms) long when fully matured. These peppers are named after the Cuban city of La Habana or, in English, Havana and are rated 100,000-350,000 units on the Scoville scale.
They are green when unripe but then change color as they mature, with the most common color varieties being orange and red. These peppers have been considered a good starter pepper for those who want to eat super-hot chili peppers. They are also a staple in Mexican cuisine.
They are used to add flavor in different recipes, ranging from sweet-spicy salsas to hot sauces. They are also available in different varieties, such as red Savina Habanero and Caribbean red Habanero, but they all have similar taste profiles but differ in spice levels.
Just like the Scotch bonnets, Habanero peppers are easily found in grocery stores and markets.
Jalapeño peppers are medium-sized, measuring approximately 2-3.5 inches (5-9 cms) long. These peppers originate from Mexico but are widely grown worldwide, thanks to their mild heat levels and distinct fresh flavor.
They are usually green during their early stage and turn red when fully mature. These peppers range between 2,500-8,000 units on the Scoville scale. Jalapeño peppers are used in several dishes such as salsa and salad dressing but can also be eaten raw since they are mildly hot.
Wiri Wiri peppers pair well with tomatoes and tropical fruits, and you can use them in all meals—breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
If you like soups and marinades, these peppers will make a perfect addition to these dishes if you want a kick of spice. They can also be added to eggs and used in sauces. These peppers are also used as side dishes and can be mixed with Asian cuisines to add a fruity flavored heat. You can also use them in cooking chicken and sausages since they create the perfect blend of flavors and yield delicious results.
Additionally, you can eat them fresh from the garden after picking and washing. These peppers are very flavorful, but if you don’t handle spicy food well, it’s best to avoid eating them raw because they pack a punch.
When using Wiri Wiri or any other kind of hot pepper, you should follow some safety precautions to avoid burning your skin or eyes, especially when you don’t have much experience using them.
Here are some of the things you can do:
- If you happen to touch the peppers with your hands, wash your hands thoroughly afterward with dish soap and running water. Avoid touching your eyes before washing your hands.
- Wear kitchen gloves to avoid oils from the peppers coming in contact with your skin.
- Wash the cutting tools such as knives after cutting peppers. Similarly, clean the surface you cut them on, making sure the oils don’t get transferred to other foods or come into contact with your skin or eyes accidentally.
- Avoid adding excess peppers to your dishes, as you might end up not eating them. If this is your first time using Wiri Wiri, you might want to start with fewer chilis than you think you might need, then increase them gradually if your taste buds allow.
Wiri Wiri peppers usually take up to one month to germinate and approximately three months to get ready for harvest. They require full sun for growing, so the best planting time is spring. Make sure to plant the peppers in loamy soil that drains well.
Since peppers originated from humid tropical regions, you have to be very careful about air circulation, temperatures, and moisture when growing them. Peppers need to be watered frequently but won’t tolerate overly saturated soils.
You can also add organic fertilizer to the soil to improve its nutrient levels. Avoid overfeeding the plants since they can develop excess foliage and fewer fruits. Additionally, insufficient air circulation, excess moisture, and low temperatures are unsuitable for Wiri Wiri pepper growth.
A good thing about these peppers is that you can grow them directly in the garden or containers. That means you can grow them even when you live in an apartment or other place where space is limited.
When growing these peppers in containers, ensure they have drainage holes to get rid of excess water.
You won’t experience very many problems when growing these peppers as they don’t get affected by diseases or pests easily. However, if you notice pests on your plants, use organic pesticides or neem oil to get rid of them.
Keep the peppers free from weeds and avoid working on them after rains to prevent diseases.
Wait until the peppers are matured before harvesting. This will help ensure you get to enjoy all the spiciness these peppers have to offer. Use garden scissors to cut them to avoid damaging the plant.
Where Can You Buy Wiri Wiri Peppers?
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Outside of Guyana and the surrounding areas of South America and the Caribbean, Wiri Wiri peppers are not easy to find.
You can buy Wiri Wiri peppers in some well-stocked grocery stores or food markets. You can also buy Wiri Wiri seeds and grow them in your garden, such as the Wiri Wiri Pepper Seeds available on Amazon.
If you grow them successfully, you can be assured of a constant supply of these peppers.
Wiri Wiri peppers make an ideal addition to different dishes since they add flavor and aroma. Although you may not find them easily in their fresh form (unless you are in Guyana), you can still grow them in your home, starting from seed.