The World’s Hottest Chili Peppers
I remember the first time I ate a spicy dish when I was about seven years old. It was by accident as my parents didn’t see me reaching for the chili sauce hidden near my bowl of noodle soup. When I started panting from the heat, they found out and were screaming in panic. Despite the pain, I was actually enjoying the flavors and I begged them for more. Ever since then, chili peppers and I have had a very intimate relationship. There is no chili pepper or chili sauce that I won’t try and by now, I’ve tried many of them.
Naga Jolokia (aka Bhut Jolokia, Ghost Chili and Cobra Chili)
Formerly recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the hottest chili pepper in the world, Naga Jolokia finds its roots between the Assam region of India and neighboring Bangladesh. Average length of this pepper ranges between two and a half to three and a half inches with a Scoville rating of over 1,000,000 units. A ripe Naga Jolokia exhibits a bright orange to vibrant red hue.
This pepper was created by an English chili farmer who crossed three other of the hottest peppers in the world. As of mid-2011, the hybrid is an unstable one, unable to produce offspring identical to its parents. The creator is currently working on stabilizing these chili peppers. Naga Viper briefly held its Guinness World title of world’s hottest chili pepper in early 2011 surpassing the Infinity Chili but was soon replaced by successor Trinidad Scorpion Butch pepper. Naga Viper measures in at approximately 1.3 million units on the Scoville scale.
Commonly mistaken as the world’s hottest pepper, traditional Habanero peppers hail from South America, later making its way north up into the central American region. Averaging at about an inch in height, Habanero peppers are bright orange with a rather tart flavor. Today’s major producers of Habanero peppers are Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia. These spicy peppers are used often in Mexican hot sauces and sometimes placed in alcohol such as tequila to produce a spicy version of the drink. Habanero peppers measure an average of 200,000 units on the Scoville scale.
Red Savina Habanero
Created by a California man, the Red Savina Habanero impressively held its Guinness World title of world’s hottest pepper for twelve years before being replaced by the Naga Jolokia pepper. Red Savina is a cultivar of traditional Habanero peppers, created to produce a larger and spicier version of the original. Characteristics include a deep red hue and shape is nearly identical to regular Habanero. Red Savina scored over 500,000 units on the Scoville scale of heat.
Similar in appearance to its cousin the Habanero peppers, Scotch Bonnets rate an average of 200,000 units on the Scoville scale. Its appearance is also similar to Habaneros, though Scotch Bonnets typically come in a variety of colors ranging from a bright orange to red and light green. These peppers are used predominantly in the Caribbean islands, known for their unique flavoring of colloquial dishes.
Bird’s Eye Chili Peppers
The most commonly used chili pepper in Asian cuisine, bird’s eye chili peppers once held the Guinness title for world’s hottest chili pepper, coming in at about 100,000 units on the Scoville scale. Found all over Asia, these slim peppers can range between half an inch to nearly two inches in length. Bird’s eye peppers are a deep, vibrant shade of red and used in all types of Asian chili pastes and sauces.
Note: The Scoville scale, named after its creator, American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville, measures the units of heat in a chili pepper. SHU, or Scoville Heat Units, measure the amount of the chemical compound Capsaicin that exists in a chili pepper. The average jalapeno pepper measures at an average of 5000 units on the Scoville scale.