Today, the hotness of the chilies is determined by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The main way to measure the concentration of capsaicin is in the American Spice Trade Association (ASTA). The values ​​are then converted to the Scoville reference system, which makes them somewhat inaccurate. There are also other scales that can indicate the hotness of chilies. There is a scale that gives values ​​from 0 to 10. This probably comes from Mexico. Some values ​​are differentiated with + or ++. This scale is often given on packets of chili powders and sauces, as well as spice mixes.

Differences between peppers, hot peppers and chili

All three species belong to the paprika genus and the nightshade family. Both the plants themselves and the fruits are called peppers. There are differences in shape, colour, size and sharpness.
Peppers are the mild varieties known as sweet peppers. They are ideal for everyone who loves the typical aromatic taste but can do without the spiciness.

Peperoni is also known as paprika. The pods are smaller than sweet peppers but larger than chili peppers. They are similar in shape to pointed peppers and have a wide range of flavors. In the trade, hot paprika varieties from Europe, mostly from Italy, are referred to as pepperoni.

Chili are the hottest fruits of the paprika family. Their sharpness also differs due to the capsaicin content. In the trade, fruits that come from Asia, South or Central America are usually referred to as chillies. They are usually much hotter than peppers, quite apart from normal peppers.

List by sharpness

  • 10+ = Inhumanly Hot > 200,000 Scoville Units – Bhut Jolokia, Naga, Bih Jolokia, Trinidad Scorpion
  • 9-10 = Extremely Hot = 100,000 to 200,000 Scoville Units – Habanero, Caribbean Red, Hot Paper Lantern, Scotch Bonnet
  • 6 – 8 = Very Hot = 15,000 to 100,000 Scoville Units – Chileptin, Rocoto, Tabasco, Santaka, Thai, Piquin, Cayenne Pods, Hontaka
  • 3 – 5 = Hot = 1,500 to 15,000 Scoville Units – Early Jalapeño, Las Cruces Cayenne, Aji Amarillo, TAM Mild Jalapeño, Kashmir
  • 0 – 2 = mild = 100 to 1,500 Scoville Einheiten – NuMex Big Jim, Piquillo, Cherry mild, Ancho, Poblano, Pasilla

Chili varieties for garden cultivation

Seeds are commercially available for all of the varieties listed below.

Mild sharpness – 0 – 2

  • Anaheim (0) – comes from New Mexico, bushy plant, up to 1.2 m high, very productive, large, elongated and thick-fleshed pods, remain green for a long time, ripen red, mild, aromatic pungency, good aroma, germination temperature 22 to 28 °C, preferably in a greenhouse (between 100 and 500 Scoville units)
  • Mustafa (1) – Turkish chilli variety, rare, fruits look like beefsteak tomatoes, good aroma, little heat, bushy plants, high yields, good for outdoor cultivation, fruits are mild, thick-fleshed, good for fresh consumption and for cooking, grilling, stuffing and pickling
  • NuMex Sunrice (2) – also from New Mexico, elongated, yellow chilies, crunchy, good, slightly sweet aroma with a mild spiciness, although almost exclusively in the seeds, ideal for drying, but also for eating fresh

Sharp 3 – 5

  • Kashmir (3) – one of the most well-known Indian chili varieties, oblong, twisted red, narrow fruits, velvety soft taste with a slight sweetness and a little stronger heat, is used for chili powder, one of the best cayenne varieties of all, dried or used as a powder
  • Earbob (4) – cherry-sized, egg-shaped, red fruit, thick flesh, sweet fruity flavor and medium heat, great for cream cheese stuffing or pickling, can also be used for cooking and drying
  • Bis Bas Harari (5) – Ethiopian variety, small, round, yellow fruits, pleasant aroma and mild heat, the best aroma in dried chillies, good for flavoring sauces and almost all dishes

Very sharp 6 – 8

  • Hungarian Yellow Wax Hot Chili (6) – Hungarian variety, waxy surface, unripe green, pale yellow during ripening, later orange-red, up to 18 cm long, sweet and juicy, for full heat they must be ripe, medium heat, aromatic taste , preferably fresh and raw
  • NuMex Centennial (7) – New Mexico cultivar, round to teardrop shaped fruits of purple, orange and red. Good for keeping in containers, bush grows to 70 to 80 cm
  • Thai Orange Hot (7) – from Thailand, small, compact bushes, particularly easy to grow, ideal for our climate, many fruits, about 5 cm long, narrow in bright yellow-orange, good for drying and pickling, in Thai curry
  • Aurora (8) – ornamental chili with edible fruits, very decorative, plants remain small, suitable for light window sills, fruits change color as they ripen, from violet to orange to red, different stages of ripeness at the same time, therefore fruits of different colors at the same time, quite hot, small fruits
  • Joe’s Long Cayenne (8) – long (up to 25 cm), narrow, red pods, green when unripe, slightly sweet but pungent taste, thin-skinned fruit, ideal for drying and pickling, easy to care for, also recommended for beginners, forgiving of care mistakes, rich yield

Extremely Hot 9 – 10

  • Snow White (9) – from Jamaica, teardrop-shaped, snow-white fruit, medium-sized, aromatic and very hot, stays white even when exposed to sunlight (unique), for salsas, sauces and pickling, high yielding
  • Pequin (9) – native to Mexico, small, oblong fruits, up to 4 cm, up to 200 fruits per bush, ripen from green to red, grow upright, very aromatic, good for drying, for stews, salsas and sauces, overwintering recommended
  • Habanero Neon (10) – one of the highest-yielding varieties, bright yellow fruits that taper to a point at the end, very fruity aroma and intensely hot, thin-walled, particularly good fresh, can also be dried, ideal for sauces and salsas, bushes must be supported (too many fruits)
  • Jamaican Hot Chocolate (10) – chocolate brown pods, intense heat that sets in immediately, very fruity, sometimes smoky aroma, good for fruity-spicy dishes, for pickling and drying

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the scale stop at 10 or 200,000?

At the latest from this sharpness, the perception of sharpness goes into saturation. It just hurts, the pain is indistinguishable. A longer scale is unnecessary. Most people feel nothing much earlier, only pain.

Which chili is the hottest?

‘Ed’s Carolina Reaper’ is in the Guinness Book of World Records with 1,569,300 SHU. But there must have been measurements of more than 2,000,000. The fluctuations are due to the growing conditions, i.e. climate, soil, season and seed line.

‘Rad Savina’, ‘Naga-Jolokia’, ‘Naga Viper’ and ‘Bhut Jolokia’ used to be very popular. Since breeding continues, there are still some to be expected.

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