Capsicum, Capsaicin. A short insight into the chili pepper.

Posted: November, 2014

The Chili pepper, probably my second favourite fruit, next to grapes of course. Like grapes, it comes in many different varieties and flavours. Different colours, different heats.

Most of us associate them with Indian food, after all they grow, export and consume more than anywhere else in the world. But, if it wasn't for the Portuguese in the 16th century the chili pepper may never have made it there from South America.

Some like it hot

SHU's or Scoville Heat Units are what we talk about when saying how hot a chili is, ranging from 0 with the bell pepper to the eye watering insane with the Naga Jolokia, at just over 1 million. Incidently, this chili is used by the Indian military in their pepper spray. If you thought that was hot, the Trinidad Maruga Scorpion and the Carolina Reaper can reach in excess of 2 Million SHU's.

It's hard to say why some of us would choose to eat such a thing, yet the brave, or stupid among us do. So where does this desire for heat come from, bravado, a search for an adrenaline rush or just for the rush to the toilet? Personally, I like the flavour, its there, if you can endure the heat.

My favourite chili pepper is probably the scotch bonnet. Used in a lot of Caribbean dishes it has a slightly sweet flavour and a long lasting potent heat, without being too intense.

Don't fear the reaper

As far as my capsaicin tolerance goes, I can handle the Naga. For now, that’s as high as I've been. So, do I warm up with the Maruga, or go straight for the Reaper? As yet, I'm undecided but what I do know is come next spring I will plant a few seeds of each. I will let you all know how I get on later into next year.