Scoville scale

A measure of a chile pepper's heat level, developed in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville. The test itself, called the Scoville Organoleptic Test, involved progressive dilutions of a pepper's extract with sugar water until a group of tasters could not detect a burning sensation. A number was assigned to a chile based on the amount of dilution required to reach this point. Though the test relied on the subjective nature of the human tasters, the scale is still in use today although the Gillett Method, which does not use human testers, is primarily relied on, with results calculated back to the Scoville scale. At one end, pure capsaicin resisters 15,000,000 to 16,000,000 Scoville heat units, and at the other, sweet bell peppers have a 0 rating. In 1994 the red savina was certified (and recognized by Guinness World Records) as the world's hottest pepper, with a range of 350,000 to 577,000. In 2000 India reported that the Haga Jolokia pepper was tested at 855,000, and in 2004 a second test showed a rating of 1,041,427. Also battling for top spot is the Dorset Naga pepper, developed in Dorset, England, which tested from 876,000 to 970,000 on the Scoville scale. To put these in perspective, a regular jalapeno chile tests at a range of between 2,500 to 8,000 and the exteremely hot habanero chile in the range of 100,000 to 300,000.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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