Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Do you know what makes a chili pepper hot?? It’s a chemical compound called capsaicin. This name comes from the scientific classification of the pepper plant which belongs to the genus Capsicum.

In 1912, while working at the Parke Davis Pharmaceutical Company, Wilbur Scoville developed a testing method to measure the heat of chili peppers. As originally devised, a solution of the pepper extract was diluted in sugar water until the 'heat' was no longer detectable to a panel of (usually five) tasters. The degree of dilution gives its measure on the Scoville Scale. Today, however, more scientific testing methods prevail but still use the Scoville Scale.

Up until recently, and from personal "stimulating" experience, I thought that the hottest of all chilies was the habanero. Not so according to researchers using the Scoville Scale! The habanero registers a whopping 100,000 – 350,000 "fart-fire" units on the Scoville Scale. However, the Red Savina (habanero) measures an incredible 450,000 – 580,000 "three-alarm-fire" units! That, in my book, qualifies for “hell-hot”! But, break out the fire extinguisher, call in the Reserves, because the Naga Jolokia measures an unbelievable 855,000 – 1,050,000 units! After eating a habanero, I just cannot imagine how hot this chili pepper would be. And this truly hell-hot delicacy is in the Guiness Book of World Records! Compare that to the lowly, wimpy (but still delicious), sweet bell pepper that has absolutely no, zero, nada, capsaicin, and measures a paltry “0” on the Scoville Scale.

Yucatecans, and Mexicans in general, have a love affair with their chili peppers! I confess that I, too, have fallen in love. For me, it was definitely an acquired taste, but chilies absolutely add lots of flavor, fun, and fire to food! But, most importantly, chilies are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Did you know that chilies:

Fight Migraine Headaches and Sinus Headaches
Prevent Sinusitis and Relieve Congestion
Fight Cancer
Help Lower High Blood Pressure
Fight Inflammation
Can Help You Burn Fat and Lose Weight
Help Soothe Intestinal Diseases
Help Protect Your Heart
Have Loads of Vitamin C
Can Warm Your Feet

Note from Merida Mikey: For additional information on health benefits of chilies, go to: www.chilipeppermadness.com

Not only do I enjoy eating chilies, I enjoy collecting them! All kinds, shapes, sizes, and colors! My kitchen looks like a chili pepper parlor and I am always on the lookout for an addition to my collection. I even have chili pepper dishes, bowls, glasses, stirrers, canapé picks, salt and pepper shakers, paper towel racks, trivets, serving platters, salsa dishes, and spoon rests as well as assorted napkins and napkin holders, table cloths with matching napkins, bibs, and many decorative items. And I’m always on the lookout for more, more, more!

If you haven’t been eating and enjoying the spicy, savory flavor of chilies, it is not too late to start! You have plenty of time to catch up! Remember, most chilies have more Vitamin "C" than an orange! So go ahead, indulge yourself! Turn up the heat a bit - eat some chilies! Isn't it about time you added some spicy years to your life, and some spicy life to your years?!?

¡Bien Provecho!

1 comment:

  1. I still might get you that chile clock, it is different and I think you would like it. Did you know they call our regular sweet green peppers CAPSICUM in Australia, Fiji and New Zealand? Funny it seems to hardly be in the same food group.

    I ate those red habaneros in Fiji...in fact a macho Texan and a more macho Aussie had a chile contest and we gave them a bowl of those little red fire balls....needless to say SE ENCHILARON (they enchilied themselves). One guy touched his eyes when removing his contacts, couldn't see for a day. Went into total panic. The other guy, the Texan, his mouth was on fire but he recuperated faster than the Aussie. I am guessing they are OFF hot chiles forever. We had a good laugh.