Scoville scale

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The Scoville scale is a measure of the hotness of a chilli pepper. These fruits of the Capsicum genus contain capsaicin, a chemical compound which stimulates heat-receptor nerve endings in the tongue, and the number of Scoville heat units (SHU) indicates the amount of capsaicin present. Many hot sauces use their Scoville rating in advertising as a selling point.

It is named after Wilbur Scoville, who developed the Scoville Organoleptic Test in 1912. As originally devised, a solution of the pepper extract is diluted in sugar water until the 'heat' is no longer detectable to a panel of (usually five) tasters; the degree of dilution gives its measure on the Scoville scale. Thus a sweet pepper, containing no capsaicin at all, has a Scoville rating of zero, meaning no heat detectable even undiluted. Conversely, the hottest chiles, such as habaneros, have a rating of 300,000 or more, indicating that their extract has to be diluted 300,000-fold before the capsaicin present is undetectable. The greatest weakness of the Scoville Organoleptic Test is its imprecision, because it relies on human subjectivity.

Later developments such as high pressure liquid chromatography (also known as the "Gillett Method") have now enabled the Scoville rating to be determined by direct measurement of capsaicin rather than sensory methods.

List of Scoville ratings

Scoville ratings may vary considerably within a species—easily by a factor of 10 or more—depending on seed lineage, climate and even soil. This is especially true of habaneros.

16,000,000 Pure capsaicin, dihydrocapsaicin
9,100,000 Nordihydrocapsaicin
8,600,000 Homodihydrocapsaicin and homocapsaicin
5,300,000 Police grade pepper spray
2,000,000 Common pepper spray
855,000 Naga Jolokia pepper (reported & disputed)
350,000 - 580,000 Red Savina habanero (Guinness Book of Records)
100,000 - 350,000 Habanero
100,000 - 325,000 Scotch bonnet
100,000 - 225,000 Birds eye pepper
100,000 - 200,000 Jamaican hot pepper
100,000 - 125,000 Carolina cayenne pepper
95,000 - 110,000 Bahamian pepper
85,000 - 115,000 Tabiche pepper
50,000 - 100,000 Thai pepper
50,000 - 100,000 Chiltepin pepper
40,000 - 58,000 Piquin pepper
40,000 - 50,000 Super chile pepper
40,000 - 50,000 Santaka pepper
30,000 - 50,000 Cayenne pepper
30,000 - 50,000 Tabasco pepper
15,000 - 30,000 de Arbol pepper
12,000 - 30,000 Manzano pepper, Aj
7,000 - 8,000 Tabasco habanero sauce
5,000 - 23,000 Serrano pepper
5,000 - 10,000 Hot wax pepper
5,000 - 10,000 Chipotle
2,500 - 8,000 Jalapeo
2,500 - 8,000 Santaka pepper
2,500 - 5,000 Guajilla pepper
2,500 - 5,000 Tabasco sauce
1,500 - 2,500 Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce
1,200 - 1,800 Tabasco garlic sauce
1,500 - 2,500 Rocotilla pepper
1,000 - 2,000 Pasilla pepper
1,000 - 2,000 Ancho pepper
1,000 - 2,000 Poblano pepper
700 - 1,000 Coronado pepper
600 - 1,200 Tabasco green pepper sauce
500 - 2,500 Anaheim pepper
500 - 1,000 New Mexico pepper
500 - 700 Santa Fe Grande pepper
100 - 500 Pepperoncini pepper
100 - 500 Pimento
0 Sweet bell pepper

Further reading

  • The Journal of the American Pharmacists Association 1912; 1:453-4

External links

fr:chelle de Scoville ja:スコヴィル値 sv:Scoville

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