Also known as red pepper flakes, crushed red pepper consists of dried and crushed red chili peppers. It is not made from one single pepper, but a variety that includes seeds to increase the intensity of the condiment. Crushed red pepper has become a staple in Italian restaurants and pizza parlors, typically found in a salt- or pepper-like shakers or in a paper package. This kind of condiment is relatively easy to make at home. In addition, many people believe it has health benefits, like weight management and immune boosting properties.
Crushed red pepper can be made from several different peppers, including Cayenne, bell, and ancho peppers. Out of the many countries that grow peppers, China, India, and Pakistan are the primary producers of crushed red pepper. Good peppers are flavorful but pungent, and these countries are where the peppers grow best. The quality of this spice varies depending on the quality and freshness of the peppers it is made from. In general, the average pizza parlor crushed red pepper is on the lower end of quality and does not have as much bite as high-end peppers.
This condiment and spice is sometimes made at home from the freshest blend of peppers or because a gardener needs something else to make with an excess of fresh peppers. The peppers are typically dried out overnight in an oven and then crushed with a rolling pin to the cook’s desired fineness. After this step, the flakes are put into a shaker to be used as a condiment or spice in a wide variety of dishes. If the peppers are especially hot, such as habenaro peppers, it is usually recommended to wear gloves as a precaution. Some people use a blender instead of a rolling pin, but this may result in a much finer finished product that is closer to a powder than flakes.
Weight management and immune boosting properties are just a couple speculative crushed red pepper benefits. Some studies show that they also reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. In addition, red peppers are high in vitamins C, A, and B6, which can help promote lung health and prevent cancer. For some crushed red pepper health benefits, the benefits are stronger for people who do not regularly eat peppers. On the other hand, the diminishing returns may outweigh the cost of only eating these relatively healthy foods occasionally.