There are an estimated 50,000 varieties of peppers grown worldwide that range in size, shape, color and, most importantly, heat level. Before you bite in, it's best to find out where a pepper falls on something called the Scoville scale, which measures peppers based on Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Sweet varieties like bell peppers are at the bottom of the scale because they don't contain a mouth-burning chemical called capsaicin. The mild poblano falls around 1,500 SHU and the face-melting Carolina Reaper clocks in at 1.5 million SHU. If you can't handle the heat, be sure to discard a hot pepper's seeds and white ribs before you cook it—that’s where much of the capsaicin hides out. And if the meal is still too hot, keep a glass of milk or a container of yogurt nearby. They both contain casein, which counteracts capsaicin. Whether you’re craving sweet or spicy varieties, F&W's guide to peppers offers recipes for every course from around the globe.

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