Chili peppers are graded for heat on the Scoville scale. A chili’s Scoville rating is determined by the amount of sugar it takes to dilute the chili’s heat so much that it is imperceptible. Each type of chili has a Scoville rating range rather than a specific numeric rating, as individual peppers vary somewhat in heat. The Bhut Jolokia is the hottest known chili pepper.
The Bhut Jolokia, sometimes called the “ghost pepper,” is the hottest of all known chili peppers at 800,000 to 1,041,000 Scoville units. The Bhut Jolokia grows in the Indian states of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur and in the Sylhet region of Bangladesh. It’s also grown in Sri Lanka, where it is called the cobra chili. The Guinness Book of World Records certified the Bhut Jolokia as the world’s hottest pepper in 2007.
The Dorset Naga, a variety of Scotch Bonnet/habanero pepper, comes in at 800,000 to 900,000 Scoville units. Unofficial studies have shown that the Dorset Naga may even be hotter than the Bhut Jolokia. The Dorset Naga was developed by a mail-order pepper company based in West Dorset, England using seeds from the Naga Morich, a Bangladeshi pepper.
Red Savina Habanero
The Red Savina is a cultivar of the habanero chili. It was bred by Frank Garcia in California to produce hotter and larger peppers. The Red Savina ranges from 350,000 to 575,000 Scoville units, and held the Guinness World Record for the hottest pepper in the world from 1994 to 2006, when it was displaced by the Bhut Jolokia.
The chocolate habanero ranges from 325,000 to 425,000 Scoville units. It is sometimes referred to as the Congo Black pepper. The mature pepper fruit matures has a deep purple-brown color and, unlike other habanero peppers, is slightly wrinkled. Chocolate habaneros grow best in tropical climates.
Carribean Red Peppers
Caribbean Red peppers are a habanero hybrid that were discovered in the Caribbean, then selectively bred for heat and uniformity. This breeding resulted in a uniform chili pepper that is much hotter than a regular orange habanero, ranging from 120,000 to 400,000 Scoville units.
The Rocoto, or Manzano, is a thick-walled pepper that looks like a bell pepper, but is much hotter. The Rocoto pepper is cultivated in Bolivia, Peru and the Caribbean and ranges from 225,000 to 350,000 Scoville units. The Rocoto pepper is the oldest domesticated peppers: it was discovered about 5,000 years ago by the Incas. Small red Rocotos typically come from Bolivia, large red Rocotos are typical of Peru and the yellow variety grows in Mexico and the Caribbean.
The TigerPaw pepper is a habanero hybrid that was developed by scientists in Charleston, South Carolina. It has a Scoville heat range of 265,000 to 348,000. Unlike other chili peppers, the TigerPaw is resistant to nematodes, which are microscopic crop pests; this makes farming and growing them much easier.
Scotch Bonnet peppers are sometimes mistaken for habaneros because of their similar orange color and similarity in heat. Scotch Bonnets are shaped like a bonnet, and are easily identifiable by their short rounded shape with a tucked-in bottom. The Scotch Bonnet grows mainly in the Caribbean islands and ranges from 150,000 to 325,000 Scoville units.
Orange habanero peppers are typically grown in Latin America and range from 150,000 to 325,000 Scoville units. Habanero peppers originated in Cuba, but are also grown in Costa Rica, Belize, Texas and California. Although near the bottom of the list of the hottest peppers, they are 50 times hotter than jalapenos. The orange habanero, like all habanero peppers, is 1 to 2 inches long and oblong in shape, but the orange habanero boasts a bright yellow orange color that is unmistakable.
The Fatalii pepper originated in Central Africa; it ranges from 125,000 to 325,000 Scoville units. The Fatalii pepper is about 3 inches long; when ripe, it has a bright yellow or orange skin. Fatalii peppers have a somewhat fruitier taste than other peppers, hiding a citrus and sometimes a peach flavor behind the intense heat.
References and ResourcesBio-Medicine: World's Hottest Chile Pepper Discovered
USDA: TigerPaw Pepper Data
USDA Registry: Red Savina
Fiery-Foods.com: Pepper Profile: Fatalii
The Scarms: Pepper Facts