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File:2006 10 11 Naga Jolokia Tezpur.jpg
Red savina cropped

The Red Savina™ pepper, one of the hottest chilis, is rated at 580,000 SHU. Only Naga Jolokia and Dorset Naga are hotter.

The Scoville scale is a measure of the "hotness," or more correctly, piquancy, of a chili pepper. These fruits of the Capsicum genus contain capsaicin, a chemical compound which stimulates thermoreceptor nerve endings in the skin, especially the mucus membranes. The number of Scoville heat units (SHU) indicates the amount of capsaicin present. Many hot sauces use their Scoville rating in advertising as a selling point. The scale is named after its creator, American chemist Wilbur Scoville.

Measurement techniquesEdit

Scoville Organoleptic TestEdit

Scoville's original method for testing hotness was called the Scoville Organoleptic Test, which he developed in 1912[1]. As originally devised, a solution of the pepper extract is diluted in sugar water until the "heat" is no longer detectable to a panel of (usually five) tasters; the degree of dilution gives its measure on the Scoville scale. Thus a sweet pepper or a bell pepper, containing no capsaicin at all, has a Scoville rating of zero, meaning no heat detectable even undiluted. Conversely, the hottest chiles, such as habaneros, have a rating of 300,000 or more, indicating that their extract has to be diluted 300,000-fold before the capsaicin present is undetectable. The greatest weakness of the Scoville Organoleptic Test is its imprecision, because it relies on human subjectivity.

High performance liquid chromatography (the "Gillett Method")Edit

Spice heat is now usually measured by a method using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC, also known as high pressure liquid chromatography). This identifies and measures the heat-producing chemicals. They are then used in a mathematical formula in which they are weighted according to their relative capacity to produce a sensation of heat. This method yields results, not in Scoville units, but in "ASTA pungency units." A measurement of one part capsaicin per million corresponds to about 15 Scoville units, and the published method says that ASTA pungency units can be multiplied by 15 and reported as Scoville units. This conversion is approximate, and Tainter and Grenis say that there is consensus that it gives results about 20-40% lower than the actual Scoville method would have given.[2]

List of Scoville ratings Edit

Pungency values for any pepper, stated in "Scoville units," are imprecise, due to expected variation within a species—easily by a factor of 10 or more—depending on seed lineage, climate and even soil (this is especially true of habaneros). The inaccuracies described in the measurement methods above also contribute to the imprecision of these values. When interpreting Scoville ratings, this should be kept in mind.[2][3]

Scoville rating Type of pepper
15,000,000 - 16,000,000 Pure capsaicin[4]
9,100,000 Nordihydrocapsaicin
2,000,000 - 5,300,000 Standard US Grade pepper spray [5]
855,000 - 1,041,427 Naga Jolokia [6][7][8][9]
876,000 - 970,000 Dorset Naga [10][5]
350,000 - 577,000 Red Savina™ Habanero[11]
100,000 - 350,000 Habanero Chile [12]
100,000 - 350,000 Scotch Bonnet [12]
100,000 - 200,000 Jamaican Hot Pepper [5]
50,000 - 100,000 Thai Pepper, Malagueta Pepper, Chiltepin Pepper
30,000 - 50,000 Cayenne Pepper , Ají pepper [12]
10,000 - 23,000 Serrano Pepper
7,000 - 8,000 Tabasco Sauce (Habanero)[13]
5,000 - 10,000 Wax Pepper
2,500 - 8,000 Jalapeño Pepper
2,500 - 5,000 Tabasco Sauce (Tabasco pepper) [13]
1,500 - 2,500 Rocotillo Pepper
1,000 - 1,500 Poblano Pepper
600 - 800 Tabasco Sauce (Green Pepper) [13]
500 - 1000 Anaheim pepper
100 - 500 Pimento [5], Pepperoncini
0 No heat, Bell Pepper [5]

Footnotes Edit

  1. The Journal of the American Pharmacists Association 1912; 1:453-4
  2. 2.0 2.1 Tainter, Donna R.; Anthony T. Grenis (2001). Spices and Seasonings, p.30, Wiley-IEEE. ISBN 0-471-35575-5. — "Interlab variation [for the original Scoville scale] could be as high as + / - 50%. However, labs that run these procedures could generate reasonably repeatable results."
  3. includeonly>Ula, Sushella. "Fire and Spice", Food Product Design, May 1996. — "Scoville unit measurements cause errors due to build up of heat, rapid taste fatigue, increased taste threshold, and poor reproducibility. Scott Harris, technical service manager for Cal Compack Foods, Santa Ana, CA is quoted as saying "The coefficient of error is 50% for the Scoville method and less than 12% for the HPLC method."
  4. Ula (1996), op. cit. "The HPLC measures the capsaicinoid(s) in ppm, which can then be converted to Scoville units using a conversion factor of 15, 20 or 30 depending on the capsaicinoid." This would make capsaicin 15,000,000
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 includeonly>de Bruxelles, Simon. "The chilli so hot you need gloves", Times, 1 April 2006.
  6. By commercial HPLC analysis in 2004.
  7. High SC rating report for Jolokia acknowledged as sighted by Dorset Naga cultivar developer.
  8. Shaline L. Lopez (2007). NMSU is home to the world’s hottest chile pepper. (html) URL accessed on 2007-02-21.
  9. includeonly>AP. "World's hottest chili pepper a mouthful for prof", CNN, 23 February 2007.
  10. includeonly>Savill, Richard. "Dorset claims world's hottest chilli", Daily Telegraph, 1 April 2006.
  11. Hottest Spice. Guinness World Records. URL accessed on 2006-05-21.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Chile Pepper Heat Scoville Scale. About.com. URL accessed on 2006-09-25.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Show me the range of Scoville ratings for TABASCO® Sauces. Tabasco.

See also Edit

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