Saturday, February 17, 2007
NMSU Prof Sets Hot-Chile Record
The Associated Press
LAS CRUCES Paul Bosland recalls taking a bite of a chile pepper and feeling like he was breathing fire.
He gulped down a soda, thinking, "That chile has got to be some kind of record."
Guinness World Records agreed, confirming recently that Bosland, a regents professor at New Mexico State University, had discovered the world's hottest chile pepper, Bhut Jolokia, a naturally occurring hybrid native to the Assam region of northeastern India.
The name translates as ghost chile, Bosland said.
"We're not sure why they call it that, but I think it's because the chile is so hot, you give up the ghost when you eat it," he said.
Bhut Jolokia comes in at 1,001,304 Scoville heat units, a measure of hotness for a chile. It's nearly twice as hot as Red Savina, the variety it replaces as the hottest.
By comparison, a New Mexico green chile contains about 1,500 Scoville units; an average jalapeno measures at about 10,000.
The Bhut Jolokia variety has potential as a food additive in the packaged food industry, Bosland said. It could be pickled while green, dehydrated and used as seasoning. Because the heat is so concentrated, food manufacturers would save money because they'd use less.
"This isn't something you'd pickle whole and eat, but it could replace dehydrated jalapeno as an additive," Bosland said.
A member of NMSU's Chile Pepper Institute who was visiting India sent Bhut Jolokia seeds to NMSU for testing in 2001. The plant doesn't produce fruit easily, so it took a couple of years to get enough for field testing, Bosland said.
He then grew Bhut Jolokia, Red Savina and habanero peppers under controlled settings and found that Bhut Jolokia had significantly higher Scoville ratings. Those findings were confirmed by two independent laboratories.
Bhut Jolokia seeds are available through the Chile Pepper Institute.
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