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WTF is The Scoville Heat Test?

WTF is The Scoville Heat Test?

The Scoville scale is a measurement of hotness or piquancy of a chilli pepper. The heat from this vegetable comes from the capsaicin content found in the skin, flesh and seeds of the pepper. The scale itself is named after its creator, Wilbur Scoville. This method, the Scoville Organaleptic Test, was developed in 1912, as a way to rate the pungency of chilli peppers.

To rate the hotness of a chilli pepper, capsaicin oil is removed from a dried pepper and the alcohol extract is removed. The alcohol is then added to a solution of sugar and water until the “heat” is detectable by a panel of tasters. A pepper that contains no capsaicin at all, like a bell pepper, would register a 0 on the Scoville Scale.

While a habanero pepper would rate 200 000 or more. This measurement means that the extract must be diluted at least 200 000 times before the spice is neutralized. There are some doubts with this test however, because the measurement is based on the human observation.

There are many variables for measuring the spice of a pepper. This is mainly due to the fact that there are so many variances within each species. Seed lineage, climate and soil all play a part in the pungency of peppers.

The hottest peppers on the Scoville Scale are those that belong to the naga jolokia family, these are often referred to as ghost chillies. Ghost chillies rate over one million Scoville units.

Over the years, other tests and methods have been developed, but the Scoville Scale is still the most widely used and respected. It is the measurement by which all chillis and hot sauces are measured.

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