Chili Peppers--Hot, Hotter, Hottest!

| 4/12/2013 8:42:00 AM

Tags: Chili Peppers, Chili Seed Sources, What's a Scoville unit, Karen Newcomb, I admit, I love the way chili peppers look growing on the plant.  On the other hand, some of these chilis are not for the faint of heart, but true chili aficionados swear by them.    Some varieties ring in at 1,000,000 Scoville units, some much less hot.  Some are fire engine red and make great ristas or wreaths to hang in the kitchen.  When dried these chilies can be crushed into pepper flakes to spice up sauces, pizzas, soups and more.

What is a Scoville unit?  In 1902, pharmacologist Wilber Scoville mixed ground chili in sugar, alcohol and water and taste tested the heat content, rating them from 0 to, at that time, 200,000 on the “Scoville scale.”  Today computerized technology rate peppers from 0 to 10.  Although Scoville units are the preferred reference. 

The heat in chiles (hot) peppers is concentrated in the veins and also in the seeds.  Use caution when working with chili peppers because they contain volatile oils that can burn your skin and eyes.  If your skin is sensitive, wear thin rubber gloves.  If you bite into a chili and regret it, drink a glass of milk.

As a general rule, the smaller the pepper the hotter because smaller chilies have a higher proportion of seeds and ribs.  I don’t find that to be particularly true, since “Habanero” for instance, one of the hottest, is not the smallest.

Here are some of the flame throwers of the chili world.  I’ll start with some mild varieties, working up to the real heat makers.  Seed sources are listed below.

Chilies 100 to 1750 Scoville Units 

Ancho San Martin  75 days.  Hybrid. 500 t0 1,000 Scoville units.  This is a mild poblano chile rellano type.  Can be grown almost anywhere.  Called “Ancho” when dried.  Dark green, 5 ½” long peppers are a favorite for roasting.  One of the mildest chilies.  Source:  TOT 

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