Field of Science

Handle with care!

The capsaicin content of chili peppers keeps going up. The Indian ghost pepper and the Jolokia chili used to be the top guns, but now an accidental cross has yielded the Infinity Chili that packs a whopping 1,176,182 Scoville units of capsaicin. It burns just looking at it. Capsaicin is the oleoresin that makes peppers hot, and the highest concentration is found in the placental tissue between the fruit wall and the seeds, so be warned. This is weapon's grade hot. The University of New Mexico's chili pepper research center provided the pepper for a hot sauce, Holy Jolokia, and UNM gets a cut from every sale. The old chili pepper heat scale only used to go up to 300,000 scoville units, so it's been revised upward to accommodate these new chilis. And remember, these fruits are not real peppers (Piper) but Capsicum, but the Columbus' mistake in geography (the neotropics wasn't the Indies), and related misnamings has been carried through to modern times.

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