Carolina Reaper is not for the faint of heart, nor does it have a forgiving taste… It causes excruciating pain and has the potential to send you straight to ICU. This is how powerful and extremely hot the world’s hottest chilli pepper is.
In 2017 the Guinness Book of World Records declared “Smokin Ed’s Carolina Reaper” as the hottest chilli pepper on the planet. It is produced by Ed Currie, the owner of Pucker Butt Pepper Company in the United States.
“Your hands will start shaking, your heart will start going faster, you get sweaty, your eyes are watery, your skin flushes, the mucus membranes run, you get snot pouring out of your nose…” This is how Currie describes what happens to the human body after eating this hot pepper.
It rates 2.2 million Scoville Heat Units (SHU) and is said to have a punch of heat nearly as potent as most pepper sprays used by police. To give some perspective for chilli lovers: a jalapeño measures in at 5 000 units (and pepper spray at around 2 million).
Too hot to handle
The Carolina Reaper is a crossbreed between La Soufriere pepper from the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent and a Naga Viper pepper from Pakistan.
According to Currie’s website, the Carolina Reaper first gained notoriety in 2011 when an NPR reporter, “Ate a small piece of the pepper, rolled around on the floor, hallucinated, and then shared his experiences with the national media.”
The Carolina displaced the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper as the world’s hottest pepper. Now the world’s second hottest pepper, it burns at more than 1.2 million SHU.
Both these peppers are extremely hot and in South Africa we are yet to experience such heat. Or maybe we are not brave enough to go beyond our continental favourites, the African Bird’s Eye or peri-peri, which is popular in the preparation of peri-peri chicken and chakalaka. The Mzansi favourite has a ranking of 50 000 to 175 000 SHU, far cooler than the infamous Coralina Reaper.
South Africa’s homegrown contribution to international pepper culture, the peppadew, has a rating of 1 100 to 1 200 SHU units. The discovery of this variety was made in the 90s.
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