Explore the fascinating world of the Scoville Scale, a historic system that measures the fiery intensity of chili peppers and spicy foods. From mild jalapeños to the record-breaking Pepper X, discover how capsaicin content and two distinct measurement methods define spiciness.
🥜 In a Nutshell
- The Scoville Scale is a system for rating the spiciness of chili peppers and spicy foods, developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912. It measures heat based on capsaicin content, ranging from 0 (no heat) to 16 million (pure capsaicin).
- Most peppers fall within the 100-500 Scoville Unit range, while well-known ones like jalapeños and serranos range from 2,500 to 25,000 units. Tabasco sauce measures around 30,000-50,000 units.
- Pepper X, created by Ed Currie, has just been crowned as the world's spiciest chili pepper. It achieved a staggering 2,693,000 Scoville Heat Units rating, surpassing the Carolina Reaper.
- The Scoville Scale is determined using two methods. The first is the Scoville Organoleptic Test, where volunteers taste samples. The second method involves High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), which offers a more accurate measurement of capsaicinoids.
❓ What is the Scoville Scale?
The Scoville Scale is a measurement system that rates the heat level of chili peppers and other spicy foods. The scale is named after its inventor, Wilbur Scoville, who developed it in 1912 and is still in use today.
It ranks peppers according to their capsaicin content. This compound is responsible for their heat. The ranking is done on a scale that ranges from 0 (indicating no capsaicin) to 16 million (representing pure capsaicin).
Most peppers fall within the 100-500 Scoville Unit range, while popular ones like jalapeños and serranos range from 2,500 to 25,000 units. Tabasco sauce, for comparison, measures around 30,000-50,000 units on the Scoville scale.
🌶️ Hottest Pepper in the World
The spiciest chili peppers in the world can exceed 2 million Scoville units. People often use them as food additives rather than consuming them whole.
The Carolina Reaper recently lost its title as the world's hottest chili pepper when Ed Currie, the founder of PuckerButt Pepper Co. and a renowned pepper expert, spent a decade developing Pepper X, known for its intense and immediate heat. Source (USA Today)
Over five years, Currie conducted extensive research to demonstrate Pepper X's distinctiveness in genetics, chemistry, and botany. On October 9, Guinness World Records officially crowned Pepper X the world's hottest chili with a 2,693,000 Scoville Heat Units rating. Currie himself felt the enduring heat of Pepper X long after his initial taste test.
⚖️ How Does the Scoville Scale Work?
The pungency, which refers to spiciness or "heat," of chili peppers is measured on the Scoville Scale. It is expressed in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The scale is named after the American pharmacist who created it, Wilbur Scoville. The Scoville organoleptic test is the name of his technique, which he developed in 1912.
1. Scoville Organoleptic Test
This is the first laboratory test to measure chile peppers' heat. To gauge the heat level, human test volunteers taste various prepared chile samples.
The Scoville Organoleptic Test is a standardized way to measure how spicy chili peppers are. It works by diluting a pepper extract until a group of tasters can't taste the spiciness anymore. The number of dilutions needed for this is called the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU).
While it's a more precise alternative to a "bite the chile" taste test. However, it has limitations because spiciness perception can vary among individuals due to differences in their taste buds and tolerance to capsaicin, the heat-inducing compound in peppers.
2. High-Performance Liquid Chromatography
The HPLC is the most accurate method for measuring heat in chile peppers. This procedure involves drying and grinding the fruit and then extracting the chemicals responsible for heat.
The extract is injected into the HPLC for analysis. This method enables the determination of the quantities of individual capsaicinoids. In addition, many samples may be analyzed within a short period of time using HPLC.
🌶️ Hot Chili Peppers on the Scoville Scale
Here are some of the hot chili peppers on the scale, measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU):
- Pepper X: 2,693,000 SHU
- Carolina Reaper: 2,200,000 SHU
- Trinidad Moruga Scorpion: 2,009,231 SHU
- Naga Viper: 1,359,000 SHU
- Bhut Jolokia or Ghost Pepper: 1,041,427 SHU
- Red Savina Habanero: 577,000 SHU
🌶️ Mild Chili Peppers on the Scoville Scale
Here are some of the mildest peppers on the scale, measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU):
List of Peppers
There are many different types of peppers, some with more heat than others. The table below shows a list of peppers with their corresponding Scoville rating and origin. The peppers are listed in descending order of chili pepper heat.
|Carolina Reaper||1,500,000 - 2,200,000||USA|
|Trinidad Moruga Scorpion||1,500,000 - 2,009,231||Trinidad and Tobago|
|Naga Viper||600,000 - 1,382,118||England|
|Ghost Pepper||600,000 - 1,041,427||India|
|Red Savina Habanero||600,000 - 1,041,427||Amazon|
|Habanero Chocolate||300,000 - 500,000||Jamaica|
|Adjuma Pepper||100,000 - 500,000||Brazil|
|Habanero Orange||100,000 - 350,000||Mexico|
|Scotch Bonnet||150,000 - 325,000||Jamaica|
|Bahamian Goat Pepper||100,000 - 300,000||Bahamas|
|Thai Chili||50,000 to 100,000||Mexico|
|Tien Tsin||45,000 - 75,000||China|
|Cayenne Pepper||30,000 - 50,000||French Guiana|
|Tabasco Pepper||30,000 - 50,000||Mexico|
|Serrano Pepper||10,000 - 25,000||Mexico|
|Jalapeño Pepper||2,500 to 8,000||Mexico|
|Anaheim Pepper||500 to 2,500||New Mexico|
People Also Ask [FAQs]
Yes, the Scoville scale is the most accurate way to measure chile peppers. This is because the amount of capsaicin present in a chili pepper can be measured using an accurate scientific process (high-performance liquid chromatography).
Gregory Foster became the fastest person to eat three Carolina Reaper chilies, considered to be one of the hottest peppers, in 8.72 seconds.
Hot Pepper Chart
🌎 My Personal Experience
I put together this guide to spread my love for spicy flavors and to encourage others in their culinary explorations. My journey into the Scoville scale was fueled by curiosity and a series of kitchen experiments.
It began with learning to cook California chili in four different ways - roasting, grilling, sautéing, and stir-frying, each method bringing out a unique aspect of their flavor. Then, I moved on to pickling jalapeños, tweaking the vinegar and sugar mix for that perfect tangy-spicy balance.
Making ghost pepper salsa was a bold move, carefully using just enough pepper to achieve a fiery yet well-rounded taste. The crowning achievement was my scotch bonnet pepper sauce, a blend of deseeded peppers, mango, onion, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and salt. This experience was more than just about sharing recipes; it was about discovering the heat behind each chili pepper.