Chilies come in various sizes, colors, and shapes, as well as varying levels of pungency, which makes classification a daunting undertaking for an amateur botanist. There are 25 recognized wild varieties and between 2,000 to 3,000 cultivars grown across the world. Chilies get their kick from the phytonutrient called capsaicin which attaches to the taste bud TRPV1 receptors that detect scalding heat and send spicy heat signals to the brain. Chilies are ranked using the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) scale which is used to quantify the level of heat units per unit of dry mass in pepper by measuring the concentration of capsaicinoids. The throne for the hottest chili has changed hands over the past decade with numerous farmers across the world experimenting with new practices and techniques meant to produce hotter and spicier chilies.
The Hottest Chilies In The World
The Carolina Reaper is among the world’s hottest chilies. The mean looking pepper was initially named the HP22B. The Carolina Reaper is gnarled and red with a tail that’s small and pointed and is a cross between the Red Habanero and the Pakistani Naga. The pepper went into the Guinness World Records in 2013 for being the world hottest chili in the world after surpassing the Trinidad Scorpion. The pepper has an average SHU of 1,641,000 with some peaking at almost 2.2 million SHU. The pepper is famed for its excellent fruity flavor that accompanies the heat of the pepper.
The Naga Viper boasts of containing about 900,000 to 1,382,118 Scoville heat units and is across between three hot chilies namely the Naga Morich, ghost pepper, and the Trinidad Naga Morich. The pepper held the Guinness World Record for the hottest chili in the world in 2011 after beating the infinity pepper but lost the title the following year. The pepper has the slow burn of the ghost pepper and the heat of a scorpion pepper.
Trinidad Moruga Scorpion
The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion contains about 1,200,000 to 2,000,000 of the Scoville heat units. This variant of pepper initially from Trinidad and Tobago gets its name from its scorpion-like tail.
The Seven-pot Habanero contains between 1,000,000 and 1,350,000 Scoville heat units. The pepper is folded and round looking like a human brain. The Seven-pot Habanero gets its name from the perception that its fierce spiciness is enough to add enough pepper heat to 7 family size cooking pots.
The Dorset Naga contains between 1,000,000 and 1,598,227 of the Scoville heat units. The pepper is originally from the United Kingdom and is a subspecies of the Naga Morich. It was created by Joy and Michael Michaud of Dorset, England through handpicking only the best seed of the Naga Morich and growing them together thus forming the Dorset Naga. The pepper is so popular in Great Britain due to the heated flavor it adds to food.
The Chocolate Habalokia is a cross between a Ghost chili and the Chocolate Habanero. The chili matures from green to chocolate and contains an impressive 800,000 Scoville heat units.
Peach Ghost Scorpion
The Peach Ghost Scorpion packs over 750,000 Scoville heat units and is across between the Ghost chili and the Trinidad Scorpion. The chili is known for its fruity taste that quickly changes to spicy and hot.
Chilies have numerous health benefits including helping blood circulation by thinning of the blood and preventing strokes to a significant degree. Capsaicin which is found in chilies is known to contain a Neuropeptide that is associated with the anti-inflammatory properties which help control auto-inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and rheumatoid. Chilies are also effective in clearing congestion and naval passages which helps one to breathe with more ease. Capsaicin also has thermogenic compounds which increase the metabolic rate by up to 23% and therefore helps control body fat and obesity.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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