What is a Carolina Reaper? On the Scoville Heat Scale, it now has a new average Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) rating of 1,641,000 with some individual peppers topping out at an incredible 2,200,000 SHU as recently measured at Winthrop University. The pepper previously had a SHU rating of 1,569,300 but after more recent testing in 2017, it surpassed the previous SHU ranking.
The pepper was bred by the pepper cultivar, Ed Currie, who cultivated the pepper by cross-breeding a red habanero pepper with a red Ghost Pepper. It was bred in a greenhouse in Rock Hill of South Carolina and was previously named HP22B. Ed also goes by the nickname Smokin Ed. It is mildly sweet and has a fruity flavor, that is once you get past the overwhelming heat the pepper contains.
Unlike most peppers that have a smooth appearance, reaper pods are very rough in appearance and have a tail that looks similar to a scorpion stinger. They generally range in size from about 3/4 of an inch to 1.5 inches in diameter.
To give you an idea of how hot this pepper is compared to other common peppers. A bell pepper has a SHU of 0 as it has no heat. A common jalapeño has a SHU of around 2,500 - 6,000 SHU. Whereas habanero peppers range anywhere from 100,000 to 350,000 SHU. A Ghost Pepper's Scoville rating is just over 1.1 Million.
The heat, also known as pungency as it relates to peppers, is caused by the chemical compound capsaicin. Capsaicin is an oil that is prominent in the world's hottest peppers. One known antidote to capsaicin is casein which is present in some milk-based products. The casein works as a detergent that binds to the capsaicin and gives the consumer of hot peppers some relief from the pepper's pungency.
Avoid contact with eyes and skin as severe irritation will occur.
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