Low water content is making peppers spicier and fruits sweeter.
Hot peppers might be hotter than you remember this year thanks to the ongoing drought and heat in the U.S.
The scarce rainfall is making for smaller produce, but those peppers are packing even more of a punch. Drought conditions prompt plants to produce fruit with lower water content, making peppers spicier, and making other fruits, like melons and peaches, sweeter.
So while the size of the pepper may be smaller, the heat is bigger. Less rainfall makes peppers produce more capsaicin, which is the chemical that gives jalapeños and habaneros their heat.
The summer heat has been taking its toll on other fruits as well, but with a sweeter result. The extreme conditions we’ve had this summer sparks a higher rate of photosynthesis, increasing the sugar levels. Tree fruits, like peaches, are ripening faster and bursting with flavor.
Even garlic, corn and radishes are getting an extra boost of flavor due to the lower water content.
So, if you’re looking to make some five-alarm chili, now might be the time. Or, if you’re looking to keep that old family recipe manageable, consider decreasing the amount of fresh peppers you add. On the other hand, if you’re making fruit pies or cobblers, you may be able to leave out a little sugar.