Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The world's hottest chili pepper

New Mexico has a huge chili pepper industry, so I guess it's not unusual that New Mexico State University would devote itself to the search for the world's hottest chili pepper. In 2007, scientists at NMSU announced that they had found a chili pepper in northeastern India that claims the title. It is a pepper called Bhut Jolokia, which translates as ghost chili.

The heat in any chili pepper is measured by something called a Scoville Heat Unit (SHU). It is an index that measures the amount of capsaicin (the substance that makes chilies taste hot) in a pepper.
  • At the low end are cherry peppers (500 SHU), poblano (1,500) and pasilla (2,500).
  • In the middle range are jalapeƱos (10,000), cayenne peppers (50,000) and tabasco peppers (75,000).
  • Chilies with very high SHU scores include Thai chilies (100,000), habaneros (300,000) and red Savina (500,000).
The Bhut Jokolia pepper weighs in at over 1 million SHU!!!!

If you're actually crazy enough to want to eat one, you can grow your own bhut jokolia peppers from seeds sold by NMSU's Chili Pepper Institute Chile Shop. A packet of 10-15 seeds costs $5.

1 comment:

  1. Kate: love the info on chilies! I was recently studying all about chilies and the SHU. There are so, so many chilies ~ not to mention they have different names once they have been dried.

    I always thought habaneros topped the chart: thanks for the update!