For the true aficionado of hot and spicy, the ghost pepper deserves a special place in their culinary hall of fame. Reaching up to an impressive 1 million units on the Scoville scale, this fierce pepper has earned its place as one of the hottest naturally occurring ingredients around.
But why are we so obsessed with eating something that is literally burning hot? Let's talk about what makes this chili so ferocious, how it's used in popular dishes, and some ghost pepper hot sauces to try!
What is the Scoville Scale and How Does it Work
If you have ever bitten into a chili pepper and felt the intense heat spreading throughout your mouth, that heat in all peppers is caused by one simple natural ingredient... capsaicin. The compound called capsaicin is found in varying levels in peppers and is what causes the burning sensations you feel.
The Scoville Scale is a measurement of how spicy a pepper is based on its capsaicin content. It was developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912 and originally measured through a taste test.
Today, the Scoville Scale is calculated by using high-performance liquid chromatography to determine the capsaicin concentration in a pepper. The higher the concentration, the spicier the pepper. So, the next time you're in the mood for something spicy, you can check on the Scoville Scale to get a rough idea of how hot that chili pepper may be.
The Bhut Jolokia Ghost Pepper on the Scoville Scale
The infamous ghost pepper, also known as the Bhut Jolokia, is one of the hottest peppers around. It's so hot that it was once used to make tear gas! Just kidding, we just made that up... but it is HOT.
It stands tall on the Scoville Scale at around 1,041,427 SHU. But with any pepper that can range depending on how the pepper was grown, where it was grown, and many other factors. On the low end, the bhut jolokia ghost pepper can also be around 855,000.
Jalapeños have a Scoville rating that ranges from 2,500 to 8,000. While this may seem low compared to some of the hotter peppers like the 7 pot primo or Carolina reapers, jalapeños still pack a decent amount of heat.
To put its heat into perspective, here is the Scoville rating of the jalapeño pepper alongside some other well-known peppers:
Bell pepper: 0 SHU
Jalapeño pepper: 2,500-8,000 SHU
Serrano pepper: 10,000-25,000 SHU
Ghost Pepper: 1,041,427 SHU
So yeah, it's hot!
History of The Ghost Pepper
The Bhut Jolokia ghost pepper comes from the Northeast region of India and the name “Bhut Jolokia” literally translates to “Ghost Pepper.” It was officially discovered in 2000 and has since become a popular ingredient in many spicy dishes, sauces, and snacks worldwide.
In 2007 it made its way into the Guinness Book of World Records as the hottest chili pepper on Earth with an average score of 1,041,427 SHU. However, it has since been surpassed by the Carolina Reaper.
Ghost Pepper Hot Sauces
If you're brave enough to try it out for yourself, there are quite a few recipes online that require the use of this hot chili pepper.
For those who just want to add some heat without cooking up something themselves, there are plenty of amazing ghost pepper hot sauces out there. Here are a few of our personal favorites:
The Different Types of Ghost Peppers
Although the Bhut Jolokia is the most popular, there are actually several varieties of ghost pepper out there. The red ghost pepper that most people are familiar with is just one of many.
Red Ghost Pepper
The red ghost pepper is also often called Naga Jolokia and Bih Jolokia has long pods typically with a bumpy texture. Its flavor can be smokey and slightly fruity.
Green Ghost Pepper
The green ghost pepper is a younger and immature version of the red ghost. Taste wise it can have a grassy, fruity, and floral taste. Typically the green ghost pepper won't have as much heat as the red.
Peach Ghost Pepper
The peach Bhut Jolokia tends to have longer pendant pods than the other ghost peppers. Pods on it can start by growing green but eventually turn into a pinkish, peach color. Some even turn orange if left for too long.
Yellow Ghost Pepper
The yellow ghost pepper is unique as it was a natural variant and not a hybrid. Again, the pepper will start green but will grow yellow as it begins to ripen. Tastewise, you'll find it very similar to the red ghost pepper.
White Ghost Pepper
The white ghost pepper is a rare version that you won't see very often. It also has a more unique look to it as it doesn't have bumps much like the others. It comes with a slightly citrus flavor.
Chocolate Ghost Pepper
The chocolate ghost pepper is not a chili pepper covered with chocolate... but rather naturally grows and turns into a chocolate color. They tend to be a bit smoky and can be very aromatic!
Purple Ghost Pepper
Lastly, we have the purple ghost pepper. Some of these will start off growing with a purple color and eventually turn red. Others can start off green and then turn purple and then red. They have your typical bhut jolokia tastes and flavor profiles, but they can bit a bit more timid with their heat levels.
Are You Going To Try The Bhut Jolokia Ghost Pepper?
The Bhut Jolokia ghost pepper is one of the spiciest peppers out there. It can range from 1,041,427 SHU on the Scoville Scale and comes in a variety of colors. From red, green, peach, yellow, white, chocolate, and purple - there are plenty of options for anyone looking to get a bit of heat.
Whether you're looking to add heat to a dish or just curious about the Bhut Jolokia ghost pepper, there's a lot of information out there to learn and explore. From its history, different varieties, and hot sauces.
So if you ever find yourself feeling brave enough to try out the heat of a ghost pepper, grab some gloves and go for it! Just make sure you know what your tolerance level is first.