For those of you who love hot food or just have a death wish, I just thought I'd share this with you.One of my many hobbies is growing chili peppers. A couple of years ago I came across an article in a National Geographic about the search for the worlds hottest chili pepper. Up to that point the hottest known pepper was a Habanero. For those of you who aren't up on Chili peppers, the level of hotness or heat of a pepper is rated in "Scoville units" which is a mesurement of the amount of Capsaisin, the chemical compound that makes chilis hot. To give an example a Jalapeno chili might be rated as high as 8,000 Scoville units. Getting back to the National Geo article, a chili pepper in India was found that turned out to be almost twice as hot as a Habanero. This pepper is called the "Bhut Jolokia" (I just refer to them as BJ peppers), and they are rated at 1,001,304 scoville units . The scale below gives a pretty good idea of just how hot this pepper is.
Doing further research online I found out that the Chili Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University had Bhut Jolokia seeds available for sale. I odered a couple of packs which came with 10 seeds each and planted them last year. To say that these were finicky plants to grow is an understatement. Of the 20 seeds that I planted only about 8 ever sprouted, and of those only 3 lived long enough to produce chilis. Let me state that while I like spicy food, I don't like my food napalm hot. I grew these more out of curiosity than anything. When I finally got some ripe peppers, I scraped the seeds out of the pods to save for this year crop. I was real careful to not touch my eyes or any other sensaive body parts while doing this and I washed my hands to what I thought was surgeon clean afterwards. Well lets just say that I had no idea what a million Scoville units would do to my bare fingers. For the next three days the tops of my fingers back to the first knuckle felt as if they had second degree burns. No blistering or discoloration, just a burning sensation. The next day I go to work and I'm talking to a couple of my coworkers who are hotsauce freeks about these crazy peppers I'm growing and how my fingers are burning. Of course both of them say they have to try one of these peppers. A few days later I bring in some of the BJ peppers and these two guys dig in. One guy slowly nibbles two of the peppers down over the course of about 10 minutes. As he is eating them, his face turns scarlet red and starts to sweat profusely. Immediately after finishing the first chili he developes a bout of the hiccups that last for a couple of hours. I should also add that he easily drank over a gallon of water immediately after finishing the chilis. The second coworker in a display of bravado claims his mom fed him nothing but "hot Asian food" as a kid. He chomped down two peppers in quick succession, got into his truck, and drove off to his work location. A half hour later, coworker number two shows up to his worksite and isn't looking so good. His skin color is grey, and he is drenched in sweat. He immediately goes and lays on the floor and complains that he feels like he has the creature from the movie "Alien" inside of him. The rest of the crew feeds him all sorts of food over the course of the next three hours in an attempt to dilute the capsaisin from the peppers. At one point they seriously considered dialing 911. After three hours he was finally able to sit up again and he recovered enough to drive home that evening. He did say that the next day he developed a whole new appreciation for the term "Ring of fire." Later on I made a hot sauce out of BJ peppers, salt and vinegar. I had to brew it up outside and stand upwind as it was so strong that if you were down wind it was as if someone had discharged a pepper spray container on you. It turned out to taste pretty good. I also threw one into a crockpot of chili I made and it added a nice flavor without too much heat.