Chile Pepper Facts
Although most chili peppers are indigenous to South America, they are used and grown around the world. Hot peppers are used in abundance in Mexican, South American, Indonesian, African and Oriental cooking, while the milder peppers are common in European and North American recipes. And, peppers have been cultivated for thousands of years for their medicinal properties, known for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, in addition to their culinary purposes.
The one thing that all chili peppers share is the common name “capsicum” (pronounced KAP-sih-kuhm). Capsicum, from the Greek kapto meaning “to bite,” is the pepper genus. Capsicum, aptly described as the plant that bites back, is a common condiment in certain diets. The plant grows in warm climates and is added to many herbal formulas as a catalyst for the other herbs. Cayenne or Capsicum derives its name from the Greek, ‘to bite,’ in allusion to the hot pungent properties of the fruits and seeds. Cayenne pepper was introduced into Britain from India in 1548. This species appeared in Miller’s Garden Dictionary in 1771. The five big species of chili peppers are:
Capsicum annuum—including most of the common varieties like the jalapeno and bell peppers
Capsicum baccatum—including the berry-like South American chili peppers
Capsicum chinense—including the fiery habanero
Capsicum frutescens—including the bushy pepper plants like tabasco
Capsicum pubescens—including the South American rocoto peppers.
Other Common Names: Aji Dulce, Cayenne, Cayenne Pepper, Chili Pepper, Chabai Achong, Filfil, Hungarian Pepper, Kirmizi Biber, La Chiao, Mexican Chili, Paprika, Peppers, Piment Doux, Pimiento, Red Pepper, Sweet Pepper, Capsicum frutescens
It’s red color is partly due to its high vitamin A content. Capsicum has been used for decades as a catalyst for other herbs. Because Capsicum stimulants circulation and enhances blood flow, it is considered food for the circulatory system, a common condiment to the diet.
As a cardiovascular stimulant, Capsicum assists in lowering blood pressure and breaking down cholesterol buildup. The warming properties of Capsicum are useful for people suffering from poor circulation to the hands and feet and other related conditions.
Capsicum has been used as a digestive aid to ease intestinal inflammation, stimulate protective mucus membranes of the stomach, and also relieve pain caused by ulcers.
Capsicum is commonly used to buffer pain from other ailments, including arthritis, varicose veins, headaches, menstrual cramps and respiratory conditions such as asthma.
So, how many Scoville? Explaining the heat factors in chile peppers can be complex, but there are three tests to determine the intensity of the peppers heat.
Scoville Heat Units at Ashley Food Company
In the world of hot peppers, hot sauces, extreme hot sauces and pepper extracts, Scoville Heat Units have become the standard measure of heat. Although explaining this heat factor can sometimes be complex, there are three tests to determine the actual intensity of the heat.
1. Organoleptic method — Using people to test the heat.
Pharmacist Wilbur Scoville developed the Scoville Organoleptic test in 1912. The test designates a heat number based on the level of dilution required to completely dilute the heat of a chile pepper. Diluted measured amounts of chile pepper, with measured amounts of a sugar-water mix, are combined until the burning sensation is gone. Using a panel of tasters to perform this test, the Scoville heat scale is measured and created in multiples of 100 units.
2. UV Screen method
In the UV Screen measurement process, a hot sauce, extreme hot sauce or pepper extract is first spread on a plate of glass. Ultraviolet Light is the passed through the sample and sensors are then used to establish a reading of the heat level.
3. HPLC – High-Performance Liquid Chromatography
Measuring chile pepper heat using High-Performance Liquid Chromatography is one of the most advanced methods of pepper heat measurement. In the HPLC process, chile peppers are dried and ground. The capsaicin is then extracted and analyzed using highly sensitive lab instruments. The HPLC method provides the most accurate and rapid means of measuring heat and is also one of the most impartial.
Chile Pepper Heat Levels By Chile
Chile peppers are actually fruits, or more berries like tomatoes. In most cases the smaller the pepper, the hotter it is. The pungent heat factor in chile is called capsaicin an alkaloid irritating to the skin and mucous membranes, the active ingredient of capsicum; used as a topical counterirritant and analgesic.
This chemical actually survives cooking and freezing, Capsaicin is concentrated in the cell membranes and seeds of the pepper. Those areas are the most potent, and if removed, will lessen the punch. There are many different types of peppers.
Carolina Reaper up to 2,100,000
Trinidad Moruga Scorpion up to 2,000,000
Trinidad Scorpion Butch T: 1,463,700 Scovilles
Bhut Jolokia: 1,001,304 Scovilles
7 Pod Douglah: 800,000-1,000,000 Scovilles
Red Savina Habanero: 350,000 – 580,000 Scovilles
Habanero chile pepper: 100,000 – 350,000 Scoville
Scotch bonnet: 100,000 – 325,000 Scoville
Peri Peri chle pepper 100,000 – 180,000 Scoville
Thai chile pepper: 50,000 – 100,000 Scoville
Tabasco pepper: 30,000 – 50,000 Scoville
Serrano pepper: 5,000 – 23,000 Scoville
Jalapeno Pepper: 2,500 – 8,000 Scoville
Cayenne pepper: 3,000 – 5,000 Scoville
Ancho chile pepper: 1,000 – 2,000 Scoville
Poblano chile pepper: 1,000 – 2,000 Scoville
Anaheim chile pepper: 500 – 1,000 Scoville
Santa Fe Grande chile pepper: 500 – 700 Scoville