Fresh Clips: The Newest, Hottest Pepper

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Researchers at New Mexico State University have identified a naturally occurring chile pepper hybrid from India, ‘Bhut Jolokia’, as the hottest pepper known. How hot is it? According to the researchers’ tests, ‘Bhut Jolokia’ is four times hotter than the previous record holder, ‘Red Savina’.

The scientists measured the heat of several contenders for the title of hottest pepper, including ‘Red Savina’, ‘Orange Habanero’ and ‘Bhut Jolokia’. ‘Red Savina’ actually scored lowest of the three with 250,000 SHUs. (SHU stands for Scoville Heat Unit, the amount of water needed to make chile heat undetectable.) ‘Orange Habanero’, at 350,000 SHUs, scored higher, but ‘Bhut Jolokia’ blew right past its competitors with more than 1 million SHUs. The Guinness Book of World Records now lists ‘Bhut Jolokia’ as the hottest of all spices.

According to its suppliers, the Jolokia pepper has a long tradition in India (especially in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur) for curing all sorts of ailments. The chile also is used for making pickles and for adding heat to non-vegetarian dishes.

For more information, or to order seeds, contact The Chile Pepper Institute; (575) 646-3028;

Robin Siktberg is horticulturist and editor for the Herb Society of America.