Saturday, June 30, 2012

Which is the hottest part of a chili?

A generation of television chefs have had us believe that the hottest bit of the chili pepper is its seeds. Not so. It is the central membrane to which the seeds are attached. The membrane contains the highest levels of capsaicin, the colorless, odorless compound that gives chilies their distinctive heat.
Chili heat is measured using the Scoville Scale, created by American pharmacist Wilbur L.Scoville in 1912. In his early tests, Scoville mixed a range of chili extracts dissolved in alcohol and diluted in sugar water. He asked a panel of testers to consume a range of concentrations of various chilies until they ceased to taste hot. A numerical scale was then devised according to the heat of the chilies. A jalapeño pepper, for example, is said to have 4,500 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), because it has to be diluted 4,500-fold before it loses its heat. The hottest chili in the world is from Dorset, on the southwest coast of England. Michael and Joy Michaud’s Dorset Naga—naga is Sanskrit for “serpent”—was grown on a plant from Bangladesh. It was tested by two American laboratories in 2005, and came in at a palate-torching 923,000 SHU. Even half a small Naga would render a curry inedible, and consuming a whole one would mean a trip to the hospital. Despite this, 250,000 Nagas were sold last year. To put it in perspective, pure capsaicin powder delivers 15 to 16 million SHU. It is so hot that pharmacists who experiment with it must work in a filtered “tox room” wearing a full protective bodysuit with a closed hood to prevent inhalation.
There are an estimated 3,510 varieties of chili.

"book of general ignorance"

No comments:

Post a Comment