For many, chili peppers provide just the right amount of “kick” to jazz up an ordinary meal. Chemicals called capsaicinoids stimulate nerves in the skin and mouth causing a reaction to the spiciness. The heat of chili peppers is found in the highest amounts in the seeds, the pith (where the seeds attach), and the internal membranes.
The Scoville Heat scale created by pharmacist Wilbur Scoville in 1912, is the standard of measuring the amount of heat in a pepper. Using his method, a solution created from the pepper in question is diluted until the hot taste can no longer be sensed. The amount of dilution is described by the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU), or roughly the number of cups of water it would take to dilute the solution enough to no longer taste the heat.
Scientists have now developed a way to determine a pepper’s heat index without sacrificing human taste buds. New methods use tests to measure how many heat-producing molecules are present in the pepper. Want to know which peppers are the hottest? Here’s a list of the 5 hottest peppers in the world:
Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper: peak heat 2,200,000 SHU – Holds the title as the world’s hottest pepper according to the Guinness Book of World Records. A hybrid of the Pakistani Naga and the Red Habanero, its defining characteristic is the scorpion tail. If you’re brave enough to try it, it’s known to have a sweet, fruity flavor in addition to its spice.
The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion: peak heat 2,009,231 SHU – This pepper originates from Moruga, Trinidad and is known for its building heat. If you’re able to stomach it, the heat in this pepper is like eating 400 jalapenos.
The 7 Pot Douglah aka the Chocolate 7 pod: peak heat 1,853,936 SHU – This 7 pod plant is known for its dark brown/purple skin. Unlike other peppers, the capsaicin in this pepper is found in the form of capsaicin oils.
The 7 Pot Primo: peak heat 1,469,000 SHU – This lumpy pepper was created by an Indie Rock musician. Story has it, it took 8 generations for a stable version to grow. Its color varies between gold, brown and red, and it is known to have a fruity and floral taste.
The Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T”: peak heat 1,463,700 SHU – A previous Guinness World Record holder (Australia 2011), this pepper is known for its “scorpion stinger” found at its tip.
Here’s how other peppers measure up:
- Jalepeno: 2,500 – 10,000 SHU
- Habanero Peppers: 350,000 SHU
- Cayenne Pepper 50,000 SHU
- Ghost Peppers: 855,000 – 1,041,427 SHU
- Tabasco Original Red Sauce: 2,500 – 5,000 SHU
- Green Bell Peppers: 0 SHU
Are you brave enough to experience the heat for yourself? Comment on your experience below.