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How Spicy is that Hot Pepper?

hot peppersThere are two main types of peppers – sweet bell peppers that come in varying shades of green, red, orange and yellow, and spicy hot peppers that are available in many different colors, including white.

Hot peppers are measured in Scoville units. The range for mildly hot peppers goes from 100 to 2000, and the measurement for other, spicier peppers extends from there. Very spicy hot peppers can contain over 1 million Scoville units. With that said, most of the very, very hot peppers are not native to the United States and prefer a tropical-like climate in order to thrive. If you live in the southern part of the country, you may be able to pull off growing some of these:

Santa Fe Grand Pepper – This pepper is on the mild side and only has between 500 and 700 Scoville units. They are bright orange or red when ripe and can be used in many different dishes. A single Santa Fe hot pepper plant can produce up to 50 peppers. This plant grows very well in the southwestern United States and is also known as the guero chili pepper and the yellow hot chili pepper.

Jalapeno Pepper – Jalapeno peppers are usually green, but can be red. The change in color is related to the ripeness of the pepper. What’s odd about jalapeno peppers is the fact that they get spicier when you eat the seeds. Without the seeds, they’re actually pretty mild, but when the entire pepper is eaten, it falls into the medium spiciness range of between 2,500 and 10,000 Scoville units.

Serrano Pepper – The Serrano pepper is eaten when it is either green or red, which makes them hard to distinguish from an jalapeno. The main difference is the level of spiciness. Although Serrano peppers are considered to be “medium” on the Scoville scale, their rankings of between 10,000 and 25,000 units put them almost into the “hot” section of the list.

Tabasco Pepper – Unlike a lot of hot peppers which prefer the weather of other countries or the southwestern part of the United States, the Tabasco pepper grows in other warm-weathered parts of the country, for example, Louisiana. Tabasco peppers are best known for their use in spicy Tabasco sauce, and they have a Scoville rating of between 30,000 and 50,000 units. They are bright red when ripe, and grow to be around 2 inches long.

Pequin Pepper – The Pequin pepper is native to New Mexico and Texas, and has a Scoville rating of between 100,000 and 140,000. This pepper is very small, and usually resembles a small, red or brown-colored grape – however, this is one “grape” that you don’t want to bite into by accident!

Habanero Pepper – While the spiciest pepper on record is the ghost pepper, or naga jolokia with its record 1,000,000 Scoville units, this pepper is not indigenous to North America. Instead, the ever-popular habanero pepper (100,000 – 350,000 Scoville units) will grow throughout the southwest, and is originally from Mexico. The habanero pepper is red in color when ripe, and ranges from 1 inch to 2 inches long.

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