Some like it hot

(Adobe Images)

(Adobe Images)

The hotter the better may not apply to the temperature outside, but for those devoted chili pepper lovers out there it sure does.

Most of us can relate to the anticipation that builds up inside as we brace ourselves for the burn we are about to experience, and it turns out that burn is a good thing. That heat helps release good endorphins and dopamine inside as well as providing us with a euphoria similar to that of runner’s high. Plus, chili peppers are good for you; one cup of chopped red pepper has three times as much vitamin C as an orange, and they help you burn more calories by raising your body’s core temperature.

So how do we determine a pepper’s hotness? The Scoville Scale is what is used to measure the pungency or hotness of a chili pepper by assigning units to a pepper. The number of units in a pepper determines how much capsaicin is present in the pepper. Capsaicin is the colorless pungent crystalline compound found in chili peppers that gives it its sting.

Wilbur Scoville was the chemist who came up with the Scoville organoleptic test. A pepper extract solution is diluted in sugar syrup until the extracts heat is no longer detectable to the testers on the panel. So how do the peppers rate?

Well, for example the ever-present bell pepper has a SHU of zero, the Hatch green chili rates at about 2,000-5,000, a cayenne 50,000 to 100,000, and habanero 350,000 to 855,000. And if those aren’t hot enough for you, the notorious ghost pepper comes in at around 1,000,000 or so.

If you really want to impress your friends and go for the ultimate burn, go get yourself a Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper. They rate anywhere from 855,000 to well over 2,000,000.

And when you bite into that scorpion, don’t try to put out the fire with water. Use milk.

If you can’t beat the heat, eat it.