For more than four years now, the Carolina Reaper has been in the top spot of the Guinness Book of World Records’ hottest pepper in the world. However, the Carolina Reaper might soon be dethroned with the arrival of Pepper X.
Pepper X, a cultivar created by Smokin’ Ed Currie, is said to be at least as hot as the Reaper. It is claimed to have a hotness rating of up to 3.18 million Scoville units (SHU). To compare, Jalapenos have a rating of 10,000 to 20,000 Scoville units and the Carolina Reaper has an average rating of 1.6 million Scoville units.
But does it matter? Are we losing site of nature’s hottest fruit? The global arms race for growing the hottest chilli is amazing publicity, it makes some headlines which raises the profile for the chilli industry across the world, but does it actually help?
Whilst there’s no such thing as bad publicity (apparently), the average person on the street who is not a chilli head, is given the impression that chillies are always hot – that when they see chilli on the menu, they automatically reflect on the YouTube video they’d seen of someone eating a super hot chilli, red faced, tears streaming down the face and showing pain – all in aid of getting likes, clicks and followers. So they select a different dish, one that is ‘safe’. But they are missing out! The addition of chilli to a dish is a fine art. Balancing the flavours of one ingredient to another, and yet releasing a tingle which compliments – even enhances – the whole dish to give you a warming sensation that isn’t at all uncomfortable. That’s what cooking with chilli is about.
So what’s next? If the Pepper X is to be challenged, moving forward we are looking at 4 or 5 million SHU’s next and those YouTubers who cry for attention, well, let’s just see what happens when they do try it – but for the rest of us, use chillies carefully, balance that heat and flavour and enjoy your creations.