It's a mistake to think that chillies are just about the heat when their range of flavour is extraordinary - fragrant, smoky, fruity and even nutty. Usually, the bigger the chilli, the milder the taste - but it can be pot luck when it comes to spice...
Nine padron peppers out of 10 are sweet and mild but the last one? Extremely hot! Kashmiri chillies offer deep red colour unmatched by heat. The broad, green Poblano is medium-hot when picked; dried it becomes an ancho, which is deep red, rich and sweet. Soak before use.
At the other end of the scale are tiny Thai red chillies, their nickname of 'scuds' gives you an idea of their heat! Habanero are hot stuff and the little round and wrinkled Scotch Bonnet is even hotter but with an amazing fruity flavour characteristic of Caribbean classic jerk mussels.
DISCOVER NEW FLAVOURS
The best way to find your favourite chillies is to experiment. Use red chillies for chilli con carne char Poblano chillies over a naked flame to make Rahas tacos or try this smoky roast chipotle salsa. For serious heat, try Dan May's mango chilli chicken
Always handle chillies by the stalk. People assume that the seeds are the source of the heat, but it is actually in the pith that holds them in place.
You always want fresh chillies that look glossy and crisp with a strong stalk.
The best way to keep any quantity of fresh chillies? Freeze them in plastic bags. When you need them just chop them straight from the freezer.