Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Hottest Chilli In The World

The Guinness Book of World Records has given Bhut Jolokia the title of hottest chilli in the world. How is the heat of a chilli measured and how do some others compare?

The Guinness Book of World Records has named Bhut Jolokia as the hottest chilli in the World. Bhut Jolokia means ‘ghost chillies’ in Assamese and is from the northeastern region of India.

How Do You Measure the Spiciness of a Chilli?
Traditionally, the Scoville Scale is used to measure the ‘hotness’ of a chilli.

Wilbur L Scoville developed the Scoville Organoleptic Test in 1912 while working at the Parke Davis pharmaceutical company.

Originally, a solution of the pepper extract was diluted in sugared water until the heat could no longer be recognised by a group of five tasters. It was the degree of dilution needed that designated its place on the Scoville Scale.

For example, a sweet pepper has no capsaicin and therefore no detectable heat even when undiluted, resulting in a Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) rating of zero. The fearsome Bhut Jolokia, on the other hand, had an SHU rating of 1,001,304 recorded at the New Mexico State University on the 9th of September 2006.

As an indication of the strength of the Bhut Jolokia rating, US police grade pepper spray at around 5 SHU.

High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HTLP)

The caspaicin is being measured when assessing the strength of a chilli as this is the chemical compound that generates the sensation of heat.

It was felt a difficulty with the traditional Scoville Organoleptic Test was its reliance on the subjectivity of the tasters. Today the capsaicin concentrations are measured by the more scientific means of High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HTLP).

In this method, the capsaicin component is measured in isolation giving an objective as opposed to subjective reading.

This has the effect of removing any semblance of guesswork, but can only give the result of the single chilli being tested. It cannot give an absolute strength of every chilli in a particular variety as this can be influenced by various factors including climate, soil and harvesting time in the growing area.

The Economic Success of Bhut Jolokia

Since gaining its #1 position, the Bhut Jolokia has grown greatly in popularity. According to a 2007 Associated Press report, a single Assamese company showed a ten-fold increase in export numbers of the chilli – one ton in 2006 to 10 tonnes in 2007.

Chillies and their SHU range

Examples of chillies and their degree of 'hotness' can be found below.

Sweet Bell 0
Jalapeno 2,500 – 8,000
Serrano 8,000 – 22,000
Tabasco 30,000 – 50,000
Cayenne 30,000 – 50,000
Thai 50,000 – 100,000
Bird’s Eye 100,000 – 225,000
Scotch Bonnet 150,000 – 325,000
Red Savina Habanero 350,000 – 575,000
Bhut Jolokia 1,000,000

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails