The Hottest Peppers and What They’re Good For

The Hottest Peppers and What They’re Good For

Finding and eating the hottest peppers in the world has become the province of macho thrill-seekers and hapless stunt eaters seeking to increase their followers on social media. But for some people with more discerning palates, it isn’t enough that a pepper is hot. It should also lend itself to delicious, if culinarily combustible recipes. Skip playing games of chicken with ghost peppers, Carolina reapers, and Scotch bonnet peppers, and find out if they go with chicken or other meals. Here are the hottest peppers and what they’re good for in the kitchen.

Carolina Reapers

Currently, Carolina Reapers hold the Guinness record as the hottest peppers in the world. Cultivated by grower Ed Currie of South Carolina, they are a hybrid of two other peppers, named in a Los Angeles Times interview with Currie as “a La Soufriere pepper from the Caribbean Island of St. Vincent and a Naga pepper from Pakistan.” With a measurement of 1,569,300 Scoville heat units, the same article indicates that one needs to handle these peppers during preparation and de-seeding and that the pepper’s oil will eventually eat through the gloves. Don’t eat the peppers raw, but you can use them to create salsas, jellies, dry rubs, and of course, sauces that can give most meals a rocket boost of heat and joyful pain.

Ghost Peppers (Bhut Jolokia)

Ghost peppers once wore the crown for hottest pepper but have since been dethroned by hybrids like the Carolina Reaper and the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T pepper. Measuring at about 855,000 Scoville heat units, ghost peppers will make you wince, sweat, cry, and experience other very unpleasant reactions if you eat them whole. However, when you prepare them properly, ghost peppers can retain their heat while offering a sweet flavoring to a dish. Ghost pepper sauces, of course, are available to add to whatever dish you prefer. But you can also prepare ghost pepper jellies and salsas. Some adventurous sites feature recipes for sweet and spicy ghost pepper candied bacon and various curries as well.

Trinidad Scorpion Butch T Pepper

When considering the hottest peppers and what they’re good for, don’t forget the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T pepper we mentioned above. Grower Butch Taylor of Mississippi hybridized this pepper, creating it from the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper. Supposedly, the secret of the pepper’s heat (some 1,463,700 Scoville heat units) is that it’s fertilized with “liquid runoff” from a worm farm. The name comes from the slightly curved tip of the pepper, which resembles the sharp and poisonous end of a scorpion’s tail. Butch T peppers are another pepper most useful in sauces, but several sites recommend pairing it with peanut butter or oil in connection with chicken broth. Two dishes mentioned online include “inferno soup” and “cherry-bomb chicken.” You go first.

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