Years ago, you couldn’t pay me to touch a speck of pepper, whatever the variety. But a family member was addicted to the stuff. There was always spice present at the table, whether in dried form, paste, or as a sauce. I used to fervently shake my head but eventually decided to have a tiny taste of some Thai chilies that were in a “carrier sauce” (we used soy).
Fast forward to present-day. I am now an adult with an ever-increasing tolerance for heat. You have a pepper hot enough? I’m ready to taste it! When I travel, my new thing is buying the hottest sauce the locals have to offer. Once in Eureka Springs, Arkansas I stumbled upon a store whose walls were covered from floor to ceiling with bottles of hot sauce from all over the world! It was, ahem, a “Eureka” moment!! Forget all the “Made in China” souvenirs that collect dust, give me some hot sauce! 🙂
The units used to measure the level of “piquancy” (spice level) of peppers is called Scoville, which range from 0 (bell peppers) to 2.2 million (Carolina Reaper). The late Wilbur Scoville, an American pharmacist, devised this test in 1912.
NOTE: This is not for the faint of heart. I would never recommend this unless you are 150% certain you can tolerate the spice. Wear gloves, a face mask, goggles, and shut off any ventilation. Be sure no children or pets are in the vicinity.
I used my own home-grown, air-dried peppers (#’s 2-5) and purchased the jolokia. I ground all the peppers using a food processor. The result is a harmonious balance of tolerable spice with a hint of smoky flavor, courtesy of the jolokia. 🙂
- Bhut Jolokia: Originated from Assam, in the north-eastern region of India. Also known as Naga Jolokia, Naga Morich, or ghost peppers. “Bhut” means ghost in Assamese.
Scoville scale: 330,000–1,532,310
- Habañero: Originated from the Amazonas region. Popularity has spread all the way to Mexico and the U.S. Often mistaken for a similar pepper called Scotch Bonnet, found mainly in the Caribbean islands and Guyana.
Scoville scale: 100,000-350,000
- Chile Pequins: Originated from Mexico. These tiny peppers can be found growing wild in their native country and even in Texas!
Scoville scale: 100,000-140,000
- Cayenne: Originated from French Guiana. Also known as Guinea spice, Cow-Horn, bird peppers.
Scoville scale: 30,000-50,000
- “Hotties”: I have no idea what these truly are. The local nursery up the street from me sold these. They look like shorter, fatter versions of the ghost peppers, but not nearly as hot.