I’m growing peppers at the Home & Family show vegetable garden now that warm temperatures during the day and cooler temperatures at night are the current weather trend in Los Angeles.
Peppers, both sweet and hot ones, can put up a fuss and drop fruit, or not set fruit at all, if the climate is not right.
They are temperamental like that.
If peppers weren’t so delicious, I wouldn’t put up with their fussiness!
I introduced co-hosts Mark Steines and Cristine Ferrare to the Scoville Pepper Heat Chart that rates spiciness or “hotness” in peppers.
As heads of the household, Cristina and Mark should know what is growing in their garden!
Watch my garden segment on the Home & Family Show!
SCOVILLE PEPPER HEAT SCALE
In 1912, Wilbur Scoville, a pharmacist, developed a system to measure the heat level (or pungency) in peppers using a dilution-based test.
Capsaicin is the chemical within peppers that makes them spicy or pungent, and is measured in units.
The pungency of chile peppers is measured in multiples of 100 units, from the bell pepper at zero Scoville Heat Units to hottest recorded pepper, “Carolina Reapers,” which averages at 1,569,300 Scoville Heat Units!
When you consider that pepper spray weighs in at about 2 million Scoville units, only the truly insane pepper fanatic would try the Carolina Reaper!
I’m not that crazy.
Here’s the method behind the Scoville Pepper Heat Scale:
Scoville created a system where the heat rating of pepper extracts was measured by dilution with water.
A group of trained tasters would eat a specific, pure pepper extract and then drink measured amounts of sugar water until no heat was detected.
The degree of dilution until no heat was detected became the “Scoville Units” or “SHU.”
For example, you would have to dilute the capsaicin found in your average jalapeño 2500 times before it would seemingly have no spiciness at all, giving it a SHU rating of 2500.
Although the empirical nature of the testing method was challenged in Scoville’s day, the rating system prevails to this day with use of chromatography.
BENEFITS OF EATING HOT PEPPERS
Capsaicin seems to have a positive effect on blood cholesterol, and is an ingredient used to treat conditions from arthritis to psoriasis.
Some scientists theorize that in response to the discomfort produced by the chile pepper’s burn, the brain releases endorphins.
Call it a “hot pepper high.”
I love peppers for the experience they contribute to my meal.
The heat acts like a “bump in the road” while I eat, forcing me to eat slowly and deliberately.
God knows I need to slow down when I eat!
Hot peppers are one of my tools when I want to limit my food intake.
Too bad it tastes horrible on baklava!
For pure pleasure eating, I adore Shishito peppers!
HOT PEPPERS GROWING IN HOME & FAMILY GARDEN
I planted a variety of hot peppers in the Home & Family garden for use in the show’s cooking segments.
Take a look at my selection and the corresponding Scoville Heat Units.
SHISHITO (0-50 MILD)
Japanese chile has thin skin and is very sweet and mild except for 1 in 10 peppers!
It’s about two inches long.
Sushi restaurants serve Shishito peppers grilled or pan fried with soy sauce.
ANAHEIM (500-2500 MILD)
Anaheim peppers are arge, thick-walled and the preferred pepper for chile rellenos!
Ortega canned green chiles are actually Anaheim peppers!
When they mature and turn red they are called “Chile Colorado.”
You can use Anaheim peppers in place of poblano and pasilla in recipes.
JALAPENO (2500-8000 MEDIUM)
The most popular of the chile peppers, jalapeños can be baked, grilled, fried, or chopped and added to salsa.
Did you know that dried and roasted jalapeños make chipotle pepper?
RED JALAPENOS = SIRACHA SAUCE!
RED FRESNO (6000-20K HOT)
When immature, red Fresno peppers are bright green, changing to orange and red and becoming hotter when fully mature.
Red Fresno peppers are similar to jalapeño peppers, but have thinner walls and are hotter!
Due to their thin walls, this is not a good pepper for drying for spice. They are best eaten fresh!
They are delicious in ceviche and salsa!
TOBASCO (30K-50K HOT)
Tobasco peppers are not available commercially in markets, but they are available to grow at home.
Just as the name implies, Tobasco peppers are used to make the famous hot sauce.
A unique trait of Tobasco peppers is their juiciness.
Most peppers are dry.
Tobasco peppers start green then turn orange and red and increase in heat!
The peppers are aged for 3 years in oak barrels and salted before making hot sauce and adding vinegar.
THAI HOT PEPPER (50K-100K VERY HOT)
Thai peppers are the featured pepper in Thai , Indian, and Vietnamese dishes where the heat is signature in the recipes.
A small pepper plant, the Thai pepper plant can yield over 200 small, 1-inch peppers during the growing season.
Grow Thai peppers in a container.
HABANERO (100K-300K YOU ARE CRAZY HOT?)
Habaneros are the hottest chile peppers you will find at your local grocery stores.
This pepper represents my threshold for pepper heat and I eat it very rarely.
If you are a lightweight pepper eater, add just one whole Habanero in your recipe to see how well you tolerate it.
I warned you!
Thank you to Bonnie Plants for providing vegetable plants for our garden.
Thank you to Melissa’s World Produce for the delicious fresh pepper samples used in my garden segment!
For some delicious pepper recipes, buy a copy of Melissa’s Great Pepper Cookbook.
What hot peppers are you growing in your garden?
Do you have success or failure stories to share with other foodie gardeners?