Chillies! These little powerhouses provide a fantastic endorphin rush and bundles of flavour to thousands of dishes across the world. These babies have a place of home all over the world for a good reason, from the sweet and crunchy bell pepper to the jaw smacking Carolina Reaper!
We are all living in the 21st century and British culture has Curry rooted in our veins! The countless times that I have heard ‘How hot can you go?’ after a few cheeky beers. It seems to be a pretty British challenge of selecting which heat is hot enough and who can handle the heat and that is just the start of the ‘How hot can you handle?’… I want to introduce any newbies to the Scoville heat scale.
The Scoville scale is no new thing. The scale is named after the creator ‘Wilbur Scoville’ who was awarded the ‘Ebert Prize’ for his work and writings as a Pharmacist in the US, which was a long way back in the 1890s until the early 20th century. If anyone wants to know more about Wilbur, a simple web search will help you find out more about his experiments and writings.
What is the scale? The process measures the volume of capsaicin found within a Chilli and essentially sense checks the parts per million. The above scale shows the heat from mild to the extreme! You can see from the scale that ‘Pepper spray’ is exactly what it says on the tin. Please don’t ever be in a position for this to be used against you, it will hurt.
Embarrassment felt a lot like eating chili peppers. It burned in the back of your throat and there was nothing you could do to make it go away. You just had to take it, suffer from it, until it eased off.Sarah Addison Allen
Capsaicin is the culprit here, this compound is what causes the body to react in many various ways, due to a natural defence reaction of ‘Did I just eat fire?’. This inception point will then kick start the typical defence barrier within the body and begin a process to excavate the Capsaicin. This is when we start to get a flushing reaction including a runny nose, teary eyes, and an immediate increase in circulation.
Why do we love it so much? Well, when the body reacts to the pain, it will also switch on ‘Endorphins’ as part of the pain killer process for that heat and these ‘Endorphins’ are what gives us that feel-good feeling.
Forget stress balls, keep a pack of a ghost peppers tucked away in that office drawer!
I spent a little time recently exploring ‘House of Chilli’ based on the Isle of Wight. This is a good little stop for anyone wanting to explore and test the chilli levels plus pick up some gifts for any chilli lovers in the family.
There is a great range of products on offering including jams, chutneys, ghost pepper pork scratchings, GYO chilli seeds, chocolate and sauces ranging from chip shop curry sauce up to ‘it is like licking the sun’ psycho juice all of which you are free to taste test.
I personally went through all of the product ranges on offer and came back with some pork scratchings, gummy bears and a mixture of seeds including the Carolina reaper (which was a gift for a friend and not for myself).
The Carolina reaper is an interesting beast… If you want to see some reactions to the worlds hottest pepper then some simple youtube searches will show you exactly why it is not for the faint hearted or a good idea! This chilli is a hybrid and a cross between La Soufriere pepper from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent (beautiful place) and a Naga pepper from Pakistan (due a visit) and for a long time was simply known as HP22B…
If you are interested in testing yourself on ‘How hot can you go’ then there is plenty of opportunities with the various chilli farms in the UK if you are up for it?. Your best bet is to pop down and use the sampling tables to test or burn out your taste buds. If you do decide on a little chilli challenge, then please make sure you that you are aware of the below:
- Check out the Scoville rating before eating any chilli, there are some huge jumps in the scale and make your way up the scale one step at a time. Don’t be foolish!
- The hottest part of the chilli is not the seed, this is from both personal experience and scientific findings. The vein that runs through the chilli providing the seeds tends to be the hottest point.
- You may want a chilli aid kit to help cool that mouth down afterwards. This should most certainly include milk and not water! Just imagine once the mouth begins to cool then the next step of the digestive system will be heating up so get the dairy in!
- Enjoy the endorphin rush
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