I keep receiving visitiors coming to my sites looking for information on hot peppers. They look to see what makes hot pepper hot, which of the peppers are the hottest, and so forth. I thought I should make at least one post on the information. If I ever get around to it, maybe I’ll dedicate a site to hot peppers.
The information below is adapted from Wikipedia.
What makes hot peppers hot?
The Scoville scale is a measure of the hotness of a chile pepper. These fruits of the Capsicum genus contain capsaicin, a chemical compound which stimulates heat-receptor nerve endings in the tongue, and the number of Scoville heat units (SHU) indicates the amount of capsaicin present. Many hot sauces use their Scoville rating in advertising as a selling point.
It is named after Wilbur Scoville, who developed the Scoville Organoleptic Test in 1912. As originally devised, a solution of the pepper extract is diluted in sugar water until the ‘heat’ is no longer detectable to a panel of (usually five) tasters; the degree of dilution gives its measure on the Scoville scale. Thus a sweet pepper, containing no capsaicin at all, has a Scoville rating of zero, meaning no heat detectable even undiluted. Conversely, the hottest chiles, such as habaneros, have a rating of 300,000 or more, indicating that their extract has to be diluted 300,000-fold before the capsaicin present is undetectable. 15 Scoville units is equivalent to one part capsaicin per million. The greatest weakness of the Scoville Organoleptic Test is its imprecision, because it relies on human subjectivity.
Later analytical developments such as high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) (also known as the “Gillett Method”) have now enabled the Scoville rating to be determined by direct measurement of capsaicin rather than sensory methods.
How hot are hot peppers?
|855,000||Naga Jolokia pepper (reported & disputed)|
|350,000–580,000||Red Savina habanero (Guinness Book of Records)|
|100,000–225,000||Birds eye pepper|
|100,000–200,000||Jamaican hot pepper|
|100,000–125,000||Carolina cayenne pepper|
|40,000–50,000||Super chile pepper|
|15,000–30,000||de Arbol pepper|
|12,000–30,000||Manzano pepper, AjÃ|
|5,000–10,000||Hot wax pepper|
|500–1,000||New Mexico pepper|
|500–700||Santa Fe Grande pepper|
|0||Sweet bell pepper|
Support this story
- 139 people sent me a one-time donation.
- 193 people send me a donation every month.
- 236 people receive my monthly newsletter.