are a fun veggie to grow in the garden. Not only are the many varieties colorful additions, but the many flavors and levels of intensity can make preparing meals even more interesting.
Chilies can range in heated flavor from next to nothing to mouth blistering. In 1912, pharmaceutical scientist Wilbur Scoville developed a scale (known today as Scoville heat units) to measure the spiciness of each type of chili pepper. Capsaicin is the enzyme that gives chili peppers their heat. The testing used alcohol to dilute the capsaicin, and the degree of dilution translates into Scoville heat units.
A bell pepper, for example, has zero Scoville heat units (SHU), while some of the hottest hot peppers known to man have ratings of 200,000 or more. Here are a few common chil peppers and their ratings:
- Bell pepper - 0
- Banana pepper/Peperoncini - 100 to 500
- Anaheim chile, Poblano pepper - 500 to 2,500
- Jalapeno - 2,500 to 8,000
- Serrano pepper - 10,000 to 23,000
- Tabasco pepper - 30,000 to 50,000
- Habenero pepper, Scotch bonnet - 100,000 to 350,000
If that's not hot enough for you, keep in mind that pure capsaicin ranks in at between 15 and 16 million SHU. Pepper spray lands at around 5 million units. Try growing some different chili pepper
varieties in your garden to see if you can handle the heat!