History, Facts, and some Tips…
The chili pepper, the
food that bites, came to Europe in the late 15th century. It was
cultivated in Central America more than 5000 years ago. Pre-Columbian
Americans used the chilli in their food for flavour also for its
medicinal properties.; we now know it has a good range of vitamins and
is very nutritious (the spelling of chili can be with one or two letter
Chillies vary greatly in hotness, size shape, and can be found in a
range of colours from yellow, through orange and red to green. Natural
diversification, human intervention and biotechnology have produced
dozens of varieties.
the Central American varieties have been joined by new types coming
back to the New World and Europe, from Asia, especially from India;
including the 'Naga', perhaps the words hottest chillipepper. Despite a
flood of new varieties The ever popular Jalapeńo, holds its ground
especially in a pickled form. When dried it becomes Chilpotle which is
pungently aromatic. Like the unsmoked version it is available in a
pickled form. Other
currently popular versions are the Carribean Scotch Bonnet, Thai
Penquin and Tabasco.
on in the article there is a listing of some of the very wide variety
of the spice.
be eaten fresh, dried or pickled, they are of course easily purchased
in the form of a sauce or paste, the article's author is particularly
fond of a chilli sauce which also contains papaya. The variety of
sauces displayed on the shelves of a delicatessen or even a supermarket
is very wide indeed. Many restaurants, have a variety to choose from. A
work colleague always has on his person a little bottle of tabasco,
according to his wife he even takes it with him when on holiday.
the hottest chilli? According to the Guinness Book of Records it is
the Bhut Jolokia at over a Million SHUs. See the News flashes
below. These super hot chillies are Naga varieties originating from the
North West of India. They seem to be Capsicum Chinense,
which is also the species that produced the Habanero. The
foothills of the Himalayas also produces a smallish pumpkin shaped,
orange variety that is reported to be as hot or hotter than the Nagas.
Some of the local peoples refer to it as the Sikkimese Cherry Chilli. A
small green chilli from Assam; the Tezpur chilli held the record for a
year or two.
spell the word Chile or Chilli or should it have just one 'l' - Chili?
It seems to be entirely up to you! Did you notice the different
spellings in this article?
Tips for cooking
rule red fresh fruit are two or three times hotter than green fruit,
and dried pods are up to ten times hotter than fresh pods.
seeds and white pith of a chilli are the hottest part, so remove them
if you don't want your dish to be too fiery.
contain a pungent oil that can cause an unpleasant burning sensation to
eyes and skin. Try to avoid handling them too much, wear gloves if
possible, and be sure not to touch your face or eyes during
general guide the smaller the chilli the hotter it will be.
a chilli in vinegar has the effect of distributing the hot chilli
flavour through the dish. Discarding the vinegar and soaking again has
the effect of further reducing the heat.
Gloves and eye protection and a mask are essential when chopping,
peeling or processing the very hot varieties. No permanent damage
normally results to a healthy person, but the shock to someone with a
weak heart could be fatal!
Some of the varieties of hot chillies:-
Aci Sivri, Aji Brown, Aji, Almapaprika, Anaheim, Ancho, Asain, Azr,
Bahamian, BigJim, Birds Eye, Cabai Burong, Carolina Cayenne, Cascabel,
Cayenne, Cheiro, Cherry, Chile de Arbol, Chiltecpin, Chiltepin Cherry,
Chiltepin, Chimayo, Chipolte, Chipotle, Cobanero Mayan Love, Cobra,
Coronado, Dagger pod, Demre, El Paso, Espanola, Guajillo, Habanero,
Haimen, Hidalgo, Hot Wax, Hungarian Hot Wax, Hungarian, Jalapeno,
Jaloro, Jamaican Hot, Japones, Jolokia, Kumataka, Lavingya, Manzano,
Merah, Mexican Naga, Negro, Mirasol, Mulato, New Mexican, Naga, Nu Mex
BigJim, Pasilla, Pepperoncini, Pequin, Piquin, Poblano, Pulla, Punjab,
Pusa Jwalla, Putario, Puya, Red Savina Habanero, Rocoto, Rocotillo,
Rocoto, Rojo, Sandia, Santa Fe Grande, Santaka, Santo Domingo Pueblo,
Scotch Bonnet, Serrano, Serrano, Shipkas, Sikkimese Cherry Chili, Super
Chile, Tabasco, Tabiche, Tepin, Tepīn, Tezpur, Thai, Trupti, Yatsafusa,
Yellow, Yellow Wax, Zimbabwe Bird
following can sometimes be mildly hot; Sweet Banana, Sweet Bells
How is hotness measured?
of hotness is the SHU or Scoville Hotness Scale. Wilbur Scoville was an
eminent American chemist. He devised a test based on repetitively
diluting an extract of the pepper with sugar water untilthe heat is no
longer detected. Testing is now more usually performed using accurate
laboratory equipment, namely a chromatograph, and equating 15 parts per
million (PPM) of capsaicin with an increase of 1 on the Scoville scale.
Vermifuge; a US Army survival handbook suggests that eating raw
chillies can expel worms from the gut.
paste was used to wean babies; when it was decided that babies had to
come off their mother's milk they would be deterred from suckling by
the paste which was applied around the nipple.
have been recommended by some as having properties that can be used to
treat long term and chronic pain, now scientists are developed a more
targeted treatment using the capsaicin from chillies and the common
pain killer lidocaine in combination. It is thought that the chilli
extract opens up the receptors and allows in the anaesthetic. The big
advantage over existing local anaesthetics is that if they are right
they have found a local anaesthetic that does not have the usual
side-effects of making the patient sluggish and slow-witted and allow
more muscle control so that no longer would one have a 'frozen' face
after a trip to the dentist.
scientists who carried out the research, Binshtok AM, Bean BP and
Woolf, are from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical
are rich in C and the B Vitamins especially vitamin B6, They also
contain Carotene which the body converts to Vitamin A.
February 2012: Trinidad Scorpion Moruga Blend exceeds two million. In
tests carried out at New Mexico State University it came out at
2,009,231 SHU. The university also showed that the another variety from
the West Indies, the Trinidadian Chocolate 7-Pot Chili Pepper is hotter
than the previous record holder at around 1.85 Million SHUs.
2011: The Trinidad Scorpion "Butch T" variety takes the Guinness World
Record with an astonishing 1,463,700 SHU. Butch Taylor, a chilli sauce producer bred
the variety in Australia from seeds sent from
February 2011: Naga Viper
takes the record at 1,382,118 scoville heat units.
November 2008: The Guinness
Book of Records has replaced the entry naming the Red Savina variety of
the Habanyera, tested at 577,000 SHU by the 'Bhut Jolokia'
from Assam. This tested out at almost twice as hot - a million SHUs.!!!! (1,001,304)
October 2007: Tesco, the
British owned supermarket giant has put some of the Dorset Naga (see
below) on their shelves in northern English stores. Lets see if they
can keep selling it without being sued?
November 2006: Dr David
Julius working at the University of California in San Francisco has
made a very interesting discoveries linking the active ingredient from
chillies and a component of tarantula venom. One of the non-toxic
substances found in the fluid injected during a tarantula bite is
almost identical to capsaicin and works in exactly the same way.
April 2006: Dorset
England;.Michael and Joy Michaud who run a company supplying
chilli sauces and chillies by mail order. They purchased a
Bangladeshi chilli from a local market and bred the new one from the
seeds. Laboratory tests yielded results of
876,000 and 970,000 SHUs. April 2006
Tezpur, Assam is home to the hottest chilli in the world, the Naga
Jolokia is smallish and green and rated at 800,000 plus on the Scoville
scale. Now that is military or chemical warfare hot
!!! June 2004
Spices: The hot spices work by fooling the body into
experiencing pain. This is achieved by the active chemical fitting in
to a type of mammalian pain receptor - the nociceptor.
Black Pepper: The hotness in pepper comes from the
active ingredient Piperine, Chemical formula: C17H19NO3,
Peppercorns are the seeds of the Asian vine Piper Nigrum,
one of our most common spices. Threshold of taste is approximately
700ppm. Compare with Capsaicin the active ingredient in chillies -
A rhizome from the ginger plant Zingiber Officinale.
Zingerone, is the hot ingredient. It has several components to its
taste and is reputed to have medicinal properties. The threshold of
sensation with ginger is considerably more even than black pepper.
Hot??? It seems that for the chilli plant to
propagate it is best if birds, rather than mammals carry the seeds, the
pain receptors that respond to capsaicin are missing in birds, hence
the birds do not experience the discomfort that we and other mammals
do. Isn't nature smart. The scientific explanation is that
capsaicin acts on a specific molecule on the surface of the pain
sensing nerve fibres found in mammals causing a sensation of pain.
do we love the pain?? A credible explanation put forward is
that the pain caused by the capsaicin causes endorphins to be generated
in the body, these are the "pleasure chemicals". The
pleasurable effects of the endorphins seem to last longer than the pain
sensation, so we remember the last sensation and tend to forget the
former. Any other explanations would be welcome.
has been linked to by the BBC Website as an an informative and
authoritative source of information on chillies. The BBC article is
about the love affair between the Bhutanese people and the chilli:- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/4315155.stm