A Guide to Varieties of Hot Peppers

Hot peppers are often used in cooking to spice up dishes and sauces. While jalapenos are possibly the most popular and well-known type of hot pepper, did you know there are several other varieties of hot peppers that are even spicier?

The heat given off by peppers are often based on a scale called the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) which was developed in 1912, according to Chiliworld.com. It is a subjective taste test that measures how hot peppers are and then how much sugar needs to be added until the “heat” disappears.

Some versions of hot peppers are strong enough to make an individual’s eyes tear and/or break out in a sweat.

Many of these you probably do not want to eat raw even in the smallest amounts, but they can add a nice touch of spicy heat when used in a variety of recipes.

Varieties of Hot Peppers

A basic rundown of the most common types of hot peppers in the world:

Ghost peppers

Ghost peppers, also known as Naga Jolokia or Bhut Jolokia, originated in India and are considered to be fiercely hot. According to the Huffington Post, this pepper is the hottest in the world, ranking 1,000,000 on the SHU scale. Ghostchilipeppers.com, a website that sells these hot peppers, indicates that ghost peppers are confirmed to be the hottest peppers across the planet by the Guinness Book of World Records. This is one pepper you want to make sure you’ve washed your hands before touching anything else.

“They are an interspecific hybrid—meaning they are a cross between two different species, which doesn’t happen very often. That’s what makes this one unique and probably contributes to its crazy hotness.” Joe Arditi says, reports Organic Gardening, “This is the pepper than can send you to the emergency room.”

Habanero peppers

These are a bit more common in use than the flaming “ghost pepper”. Habaneros are still pretty hot though, coming in at 200,000 to 300,000 on the SHU scale. These peppers are pretty spicy and you probably don’t want to come anywhere near your eyes after handling this pepper until after you’ve washed up.

Thai peppers

Thai peppers are also on the upper end of the hot scale, at 50,000 to 100,000 SHU. Tiny in size, Thai peppers still pack a powerful punch; individual plants yield a lot of peppers so these are usually dried and shipped out to the market.

Rocoto pepper

At 100,000 to 250,000 SHU, rocotos are a type of pepper you likely won’t be slicing up and eating with dip. It is often used in Peruvian cooking, according to the Huffington Post.

Jalapeno peppers

As noted earlier, jalapenos are one of the most commonly used hot peppers. While not nearly as hot as some of its counterparts, jalapenos can still be pretty spicy, especially to those individuals with sensitivity to “heat”. Great for cooking and as an accompaniment, jalapenos are 3,500 to 4,500 on the SHU scale.

This is a basic rundown of varieties of hot peppers, although not a full list, as there are many different types. Organic Gardening offers some more descriptions in great detail and also provides eating tips.

If you like your foods nice and spicy, hot peppers can be a good flavoring, however, if not, there are definitely other milder peppers, such as bell, cherry, banana and pepperoncini peppers that might be more suited to your taste buds.

Article Sources:

  • http://www.chilliworld.com/factfile/scoville_scale.asp
  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/27/how-spicy-are-chile-peppers_n_1456385.html
  • https://www.ghostchilipeppers.com/


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