Cumbria. Home to the Lake District and some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK. When you think of Cumbria, you think of Windermere, Beatrix Potter and…chilli peppers. Ok, chilli peppers may bring to mind more exotic locations, but what might surprise you is that a professional chilli grower, Gerald Fowler of Cumbria, has grown what has been officially recognised as the world’s hottest chilli. The heat of a chilli is rated on the Scoville scale, which measures heat by the presence of capsaicin, the chemical compound that is responsible for that familiar chilli kick.
A bell pepper has a Scoville rating of zero, whereas a jalapeno pepper can rate between 2,550 and 8,000 on the scale. Mr Fowler’s Naga Viper pepper rates an incredible 1,359,000 on the scale. Definitely not a chilli pepper for the faint hearted. The eye-watering chilli was a result of crossing the three hottest varieties of pepper and carefully cultivating the result in a modest greenhouse in the Cumbrian countryside. The chilli was tested by experts at the University of Warwickshire and after being confirmed as the hottest chilli pepper in the world, is due to be included in the 2012 Guinness Book of World Records.
Chillis are excellent health foods, with the peppers being good for colds, lowering blood pressure and even helping with depression. Even better, capsaicin helps boost metabolic rate, meaning that chillis are excellent at fat-fighting! Eating them can boost your mood just as chocolate can, raising serotonin levels and giving the consumer a feeling of well being.
The record breaking chilli produced by Mr Fowler may have other applications, as, in his own words, “It’s painful to eat. It’s hot enough to strip paint.” Hmm. Not sure that is a good sales technique he’s got going there…
Image: Jalapeños by GaryRHess, on Flickr