Cumari do Para Guide: Heat, Flavor, Uses

What are Cumari do Para?

The Brazilian Cumari do Para may be tiny – it sized more like a pea than a pepper – but boy this chili pepper can bite. It can run from medium-heat to extra-hot, with the potential for habanero-level heat (50,000 to 300,000 Scoville heat units). And like the habanero there’s a lot of flavor here too. It’s fruity – almost tropical – quite the surprise from this little yellow beauty. Finding this chili, though, may be a challenge. It’s rare to see it outside of the Pará state of Brazil.

cumari do para

Cumari do Para fast facts

  • Scoville heat units (SHU): 50,000 – 300,000 SHU
  • Median heat: 175,000 SHU
  • Origin: Brazil
  • Capsicum species: Chinense
  • Jalapeño reference scale: 6 to 120 times hotter
  • Use: Culinary
  • Size: Up to 1/2 inch, bullet-shaped
  • Flavor: Fruity, Sweet, Tropical

How hot is the Cumari do Para?

There’s a wide spread of heat possibilities for the Cumari do Para. Its Scoville heat range runs from 50,000 to 300,000 Scoville heat units. It can be as mild as the hottest possible cayenne pepper (50,000 SHU), in range of a Thai pepper (50,000 to 100,000 SHU), or as hot as a well above average habanero (100,000 – 350,000 SHU).

Compared to our jalapeño reference point, the Cumari do Para can be anywhere from 6 to 120 times hotter than a jalapeño pepper. Know that spread going in if you ever have a chance to try one. One chili can be hot, but eatable and the next…scorching and near unbearable. It’s a range that makes it one of the bigger guesses on the pepper scale. Though, if you love extra-hot levels of spiciness, it also makes it a ton of fun to eat. You won’t know what you’ll get (in terms of heat) until you bite into this yellow treat.

What does the Cumari do Para look like? And how’s the taste?

These are among the tiniest hot peppers without question. They typically range less than a half-inch long, often no more than a third of an inch, with a slim bullet-like shape that accentuates their small size. Cumari do Para age from green to yellow, sometimes with light yellow-white splotching.

Peppers of this tiny size are often ornamental, but the Cumari do Para plant does tend to be more bushy and wild-looking than most ornamental pepper plants. It’s not a “looker” of a plant, though the yellow fruits are striking against the green leaves.

In terms of taste – if you love the tropical fruitiness of many Caribbean chilies, you’ll love the flavor here. It’s fruity in the way that the habanero or scotch bonnet peppers are fruity. There’s a tropical undercurrent to the sweetness that’s quite delicious.

What are the best uses for this chili pepper?

The Cumari do Para’s small size limits their use cases. They are best used fresh as a base for hot sauces and salsas (for a little color and a lot of heat). They are also terrific pickled – the tropical sweetness really works with the pickled tang. Or try drying them to create a slightly sweet chili powder that will provide more oomph than your typical cayenne pepper powder. Really, in most ways you’d use a scotch bonnet or habanero, you could use it instead. You’d just need more chilies due to their size.

Where can you buy Cumari do Para?

Be prepared for a hunt. These are rare chilies. They are very difficult to source outside of their native region in Brazil, unless you grow them yourself. If you have a green thumb, you can buy Cumari do Para seeds online (Amazon). You won’t find them at your local gardening center.

Do note: due to their bushiness, these chilies are best grown in outdoor gardens, not in containers. If you want to try container gardening with Cumari do Para, choose a larger container as the plant can spread wide and smaller containers may not provide a proper foundation for the plant.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on June 7, 2021 to include new content.
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