The hot pepper scale according to Wilbur Scoville

If you love peppers, you may also know, at least a little, about the Scoville Scale.

Essentially, that’s the scale that gives a ranking to hot peppers, from top to bottom. While some peppers are extremely hot, others don’t even make much of a showing at all on the list. But how did the Scoville Scale come about? It’s all thanks to a man by the name of Wilbur Scoville.

Scoville was a chemist, a researcher and a professor.

Born in the mid 1800s, Scoville was one of the very first to mention in a book that milk could be used to help combat the heat of a hot pepper. Pepper lovers, however, also know his name for something else. He was the person who came up with a way to measure the pungency of peppers and rank them on a pepper heat scale. That’s why the pepper scale, to this day, is named after him and still widely called the Scoville Scale. The Scoville chart helps standardize the hotness of peppers by recording each pepper based on its Scoville Heat Units, or SHU.

Once the peppers have a number, they’re ranked on the scale in terms of their heat.

If you’ve ever eaten a raw bell pepper you know there’s no heat at all. That’s why it has a zero on the scale. On the other hand, the Carolina Reaper is scorching hot, and that’s why it’s way up on the top of the scale. Peppers can’t rank higher than pure capsaicin, which is the compound found in hot peppers that makes them so hot. If you’re somewhere between a bell pepper and a Carolina Reaper, you’re in luck! There are plenty of exciting options when it comes to trying out peppers on the spicy scale. Just be warned, some of them are extremely hot!

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