A few weeks ago I decided to conduct a pepper tasting session to try to find out a little more about the chili peppers that can be used in various hot sauces. My camera crew recorded this fiasco for your entertainment so you can watch as I power through five different hot peppers. Enjoy!
Why did I do this?
I decided to do a pepper tasting so I could better understand the different flavors and levels of heat that each pepper has to offer. I chose the poblano, jalapeño, serrano, cayenne, and habanero because they can all be found at local supermarkets and are spread equally along the Scoville scale. The Scoville scale is a measurement of the heat of a chili pepper, and the number of Scoville heat units (SHU) indicates the amount of Capsaicin present. The scale starts at 0 with the Bell Pepper, and goes all the way up to 16,000,000 SHU for pure Capsaicin. Therefore, the higher the number, the hotter the pepper. What I didn’t realize was that the hotter the pepper, the less I could actually TASTE the flavors of the pepper, and the more my mouth and throat were just simply on fire!
With a handy glass of milk at my side to extinguish the fiery sensation from these peppers, I proceeded to dig in…
First: Poblano Pepper
The Poblano is a mild chili pepper ranging from 1,000-2,000 on the Scoville scale. It is one of the most popular peppers grown in Mexico, and is usually used in sauces and salsas. The pepper is about 3-6 inches long and about 2-3 inches wide. It had a sweet flavor like a bell pepper and was very crisp and watery. In general, the smaller the pepper, the hotter the pepper, so it wasn’t surprising that this giant didn’t pack much heat.
Second: Jalapeño Pepper
After breezing through the Poblano, I moved onto the Jalapeño pepper which was slightly smaller at about 2-3½ inches long. It ranges between 2,500-5,000 on the Scoville scale, and judging by the smoothness and bright green color of the pepper I had, it was probably a younger Jalapeño which would explain its lack of heat. I was expecting a lot more out of this pepper, but it took me three bites, the last being filled with seeds, before I could even start to feel any heat from it. Now don’t get me wrong, it definitely wasn’t as mild as the Poblano, but it also wasn’t nearly as hot as the next pepper I had to endure.
Third: Serrano Pepper
Just as I was starting to think that this pepper tasting was going to be a walk in the park, in comes the Serrano. At about five times hotter than the Jalapeño, the Serrano ranges between 10,000-23,000 on the Scoville scale. At first bite, I could still taste the sweet flavors of this pepper, but then out of nowhere, an intense heat hit the back of my throat. This was the first time I had to reach for my glass of milk to help calm the burn, and it wouldn’t be the last.
Fourth: Cayenne Pepper
At this point, I was getting a little nervous about what I was getting myself into, but there was no turning back now. After a short break, I proceeded to move onto the Cayenne pepper which ranges between 30,000-50,000 on the Scoville scale. The Cayenne pepper I had was dried, which meant that the heat was even more concentrated than a fresh pepper. Reluctantly, I raised the Cayenne pepper to my mouth and took a bite. What did it taste like, you might ask? Well the first five seconds had a nice spicy flavor but after that all I could taste was HOT! Bits of dried Cayenne became lodged in my molars and with every breath I took, all I could feel was heat.
And Finally: Habanero Pepper
After some more milk and another short break, it was time to end this madness with the Habanero pepper. This little pepper can be very deceiving at less than 2 inches long, but don’t let its size fool you. It tops off the intensity of my hot pepper tasting ranging from 100,000-350,000 on the Scoville scale, and it is one of the hottest peppers that you can get without going to a specialty store or ordering online. That sounds seriously hot, and yeah, it was! Just a small bite from this pepper was all I needed to be brought to tears and at a loss for words (something that doesn’t normally come easily for me).
And there you have it. Will I be doing this again in the future? Most likely no, but I hope you enjoyed my suffering and have learned a thing or two about these hot peppers in the process. If you have a pepper tasting video of your own to share, check out my video on YouTube and leave a video response for me. I’d love to see your reactions to eating hot peppers!