What are biquinho peppers?
Also known as Little Beak peppers (or “Sweety Drops” when pickled), biquinho chilies originate from Brazil. They are a rare mild pepper (500 to 1,000 Scoville heat units) from the Capsicum chinense species — the same species as some of the hottest peppers in the world. It’s shaped much like a little beak, rounded at the top with a distinct point and only an inch long. But what makes it even more unique is the intense, habanero-like punch of fruity flavor in each fruit. That’s not common for chilies in the mild heat range.
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Biquinho pepper fast facts
|Scoville heat units (SHU)||500 to 1,000|
|Median heat (SHU)||750|
|Jalapeño reference point||3 to 16 times milder|
|Size||1 inch long, teardrop shaped|
|Flavor||Sweet, Fruity, Citrusy, Floral|
How hot are biquinho peppers?
They aren’t hot at all — Biquinho peppers barely tick the scale at 500 to 1,000 Scoville heat units (SHU). And while that may not seem surprising given the delicate look of these chilies, it is given the species they come from. Biquinho are Capsicum chinense, and that species of pepper includes most of the super-hot chilies on the Scoville scale. Habanero peppers are one, ranging from 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units. And so is the Carolina Reaper with its 1.8 million Scoville unit median heat. The Biquinho is a total mild outlier in comparison. In this way, it’s a lot like the Trinidad Perfume.
Even among more everyday chilies the biquinho pepper is mild. Against our jalapeño reference point (2,500 to 8,000 SHU), the biquinho chili is three to sixteen times milder. Most of the time, it’s even milder than the poblano chili (1,000 to 1,500 SHU). Perhaps the best way to think about the heat of the Biquinho is it sits somewhere between a banana pepper (0 to 500 SHU) and the poblano in heat.
In other words, most people can enjoy a handful of biquinho peppers with no issues at all.
Where do these chilies originate?
The originate from Brazil, where they are also known as Chupetinho. Biquinho are very popular throughout both Brazil and Peru — grown often in home gardens and sold both fresh and pickled.
What do they look like?
They are called Little Beak peppers for a reason. Biquinho chilies have a teardrop shape that’s very reminiscent of a tiny bird beak. The fruit itself grows from three-quarters of an inch to an inch long, with that tear-drop shape: bulbous on one end and tapering to a fine point on the other.
Red biquinho peppers mature from green to red — the typical maturation pattern for most chilies. And as they do, they gain in flavor and heat. You can also find yellow biquinho chilies on the market.
The plant itself grows from twenty inches to three feet tall, and the fruits are extremely prolific. You’ll often get 50+ fruits to a plant. It’s a good size for container gardening — most medium to large containers can hold the biquinho well.
What do biquinho peppers taste like?
This is what makes the biquinho special in the milder end of the scale. It contains all of the delicious fruity flavor you get from chinense peppers at the upper end of the scale. Biquinho are fruity-sweet, with a citrusy twist and even a touch of floral sweetness.
They also have thin skin, so they sort of pop in your mouth on eating. It’s sort of like a blast of flavor, making biquinho peppers totally fun to eat.
When pickled, you get both that sweetness and flavor pop, along with that delicious pickled tang. In this form, you’ll sometimes find them called “Sweety Drops” — a totally fun name for something just as fun to eat.
How can you use these chilies?
There aren’t a lot of chilies you can qualify as “snack ready”, but the biquinho is totally one. Particularly when pickled, the biquinho is perfect for pouring a handful into a plate and simply eating them as you would any snack.
These chilies — both in fresh and picked form — are also delicious chopped for salsas, salads, sandwiches, and pizza. The sweet zip of biquinho are also fun to pair in pastas or atop meats. They are particularly good at adding some zesty flavor along chicken or pork, whether as part of a salad or simply as a side itself.
The biquinho plant is also an excellent option for ornamental landscaping. No, this chili isn’t as colorful as some other ornamental peppers, but the shape alone (and the simplicity of grabbing a few for a quick snack) make it fun to feature in your landscaping.
Where can you buy biquinho peppers?
Fresh biquinho peppers are hard to come by in the United States, but you can pick up pickled biquinho (or Sweety Drops) at some well-stocked supermarkets and specialty stores. If you have a green thumb, you can buy biquinho pepper seeds from many gardening stores and online.