How Hot is Hot?
Dec 28, 2020
Just how hot are our sauces? That depends upon the heat of the chilli peppers used in the sauces. While you would think that a certain pepper has a standard heat rating, the heat of a chilli is related to its growing conditions. For example, chillies grown in winter are often not as hot as chillies grown in summer.
To give you a quick science lesson; chillies are part of the genus Capsicum.
Capsaicin, and related compounds known as capsaicinoids, give chilli peppers their heat when consumed. Capsaicin in chilli peppers affects pain receptors on your tongue, making chilli peppers taste HOT. Although chilli peppers taste different to each person. While someone could describe a chilli as mild, the same pepper could cause a massive sweat in another.
Currently, there are three ways to measure the heat of chillies:
- Scoville rating — developed in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville — is a measurement of the pungency of spice and a function of capsaicin concentration. The original assessment method included using a panel of five trained testers to detect the heat component in increasingly diluted solutions.
- HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography) — measures the Scoville rating of the heat of whole chilli or chilli powder using an instrument. This has allowed chilli pungency to be measured more accurately.
- New method — a very calibrated system which uses a highly-trained panel of taste testers to provide retailers and manufacturers with a consistent way to rate their products as mild, medium, hot, or very hot. This new method factors in ingredients, colour, and texture of the product that will influence the perception of heat and spice to provide a reliable rating.
Red Habaneros have a Scoville rating of about 500.000 Scoville Units, so 1 teaspoon of Red Habanero Juice would need 500.000 teaspoons of sugar water before no heat is detected. A mature Green chilli has a very similar rating to a red one. Yet a Red chilli is slightly sweeter than a Green chilli.
Here at African Dream Foods, we use a combination of Scoville scale and our own personal taste. And since our founder David has been a fan of hot sauces for quite a long time, you can trust that if he says something is hot, it is hellishly hot! Keep the fire extinguisher — or a big glass of ice water — nearby!