This past weekend I decided to do a hot pepper taste test. We have issues with getting hot peppers because we just aren’t hot enough around here. I was really hoping for some hot jalapenos this year in particular. I probably could live with medium heat as well. The black plastic has been really helpful with the melons, tomatoes, and the production of the peppers so I was hoping that would have increased the heat enough to get some hot peppers. Esperanza, at Pluck and Feather, had taught me that if you plant a habanero with your jalapenos it will help make them hotter. I have a habanero but it’s not blooming yet so I was just relying on the plastic mulch.
There were three varieties of peppers to try. Jalapenos, Tabasco, and Serranos. Of the three the Serrano plant was by far the largest and most productive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean hottest. Peppers are rated in heat on the Scoville scale. Sweet bell peppers are a 0 and pure capsaicin is 16,000,000. A habanero falls near 100,000-350,000. Jalapenos are around 2,500-5,000. Not incredibly hot but pretty decent if you want a bit of zing. Serranos, which are hotter have a larger range from 6,000 to 23,000. Tabascos are even hotter at 30,000-50,000. So this was how I was hoping it would pan out. The Jalapenos would be the milder of three, followed by the Serranos and then the Tabascos would bring it.
For those wondering, I LOVE me some spicy food. I put hot sauce on just about everything, I even put chili powder in my ice cream! So biting into a raw chili pepper is not something that scares me in the least. In a sick way I look forward to my eyes watering and nose running. Must be the drug-like endorphine-induced rush I get from it.
I yanked of a jalapeno from the little plant and bit off the bottom end. Nothing. It had that smell of heat but there wasn’t anything to back it up. So I ate more of it hoping that it had some more heat in the seeds and veins (where most of the capsaicin is located). I was sorely disappointed. I guess the plus side was at least it wasn’t sweet. I then decided to go for the big one and I picked one of the tabasco peppers and popped the whole thing in my mouth. That one didn’t even have the smell of heat. Dammit! Feeling defeated I pulled off a serrano and just bit into. Immediately my gag reflex went haywire and I started sputtering and coughing. I was completely unprepared for that. Thinking that all my hot peppers were mild I hadn’t expected the Serrano to be absolutely blazing.
It sealed the deal. Serranos will be the hot pepper I grow the most of next year.