September 9, 2016

Heat scale of chilli peppers

Heat scale of chilli peppersHeat scale of chilli peppers

Why are chillies hot? What makes YOUR EYES WATER, your nose run and your mouth feels like it’s on fire? It is NOT the seeds, but the capsaicin – the chilli oil.

Here at The Hippy Seed Company we have tried to make a scale for you, so you know what you are buying heat wise. If you use our “tags” you will see tags like mild, medium, upper mid heat, hot and extreme heat.

Here is our definition of  a heat scale from 1-15/15:

  • Mild  is 1-3/15
  • Medium is 4-6/15
  • Upper mid heat is 7-9/15
  • Hot is 10-12/15
  • Extreme is 13-15/15

The official scale is the Scoville scale and it is a way to measure the concentration of the capsaicin. In the older days before we knew any of the 7 pod peppers, the Nagas or the Scorpion Peppers, it was common to have a scale from 1-10/10. The habaneros were a 10/10, but then we got to know the Bhut Jolokia that is almost twice as hot as the previous record holder Red Savina habanero and the Bhut was measured at 1.000.000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units). So the “10/10 scale” didn’t really work anymore.

Facts about chilli and capsaicin

Humans have been cultivating chillies for thousands of years, but it’s only since the 1990s scientists identified the pain nerves that detect capsaicin. Capsaicin is the chemical responsible for the burn you get, when you eat chillies. It’s only during the last few years that scientists have learnt why chillies evolved to be spicy in the first place and  have managed to cultivate new varieties that are up to 300 times hotter than the well known Jalapeno. 

CapsaicinThe capsaicin compound is hydrophobic and that means it doesn’t dissolve in water but easily dissolves in fats and oils. So use full cream milk to ease the pain and definitely not water. Water will spread the capsaicin oil and make the burn worse. 

The hottest part of a chilli is not the seeds, as many people think, but the white flesh that houses the seeds, known as the placenta. When you cut a insanely hot pepper in half, you’ll see the capsaicin ooze out and make a little lake in the bottom of the chilli.

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