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Scientists indicate Guinness not to hot

“People want to be able to say they ate the world’s hottest pepper” – Ed Currie, creator of the Carolina Reaper.

Yes they do.  Mr. Currie’s statement was made in the context of if a pepper should be rated by its hottest example or by its average.  Mr. Currie seems to believe it should be by the average.  A great many agree.  But what is that average?  How is it determined?  For that matter, what is the hottest example and how is that determined?

Despite the title of Hottest Pepper in the World which has been granted to the Carolina Reaper by the folk at Guinness, claiming to have eaten the hottest pepper in the world because you have eaten a Carolina Reaper is misleading.  You see scientists indicate that the a pepper’s DNA is only responsible for half of its heat.  The other half is how it is grown.  In other words, the hottest Ghost Pepper might be hotter than the mildest Carolina Reaper.
More important to the individual gardener, the conditions of your garden might contribute greatly to the heat of one strain while not contributing greatly to another strain.  For all we know, in the right conditions a Ghost Pepper might be hotter than Butch T or other pepper which is generally rated higher on the Scoville scale.

Paul Bosland, director of the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University indicates the title awarded by Guinness Book of World Records is not as hot as people might think it is.  Sorry about the pun.  Instead, he says that a plant’s genetics is only part of what makes its fruit hot.  So how is it we have been hearing about the Hottest Pepper in the world crown being moved from one pepper to the next for the last decade or so.

Because Guinness World Records does not test the peppers themselves and if it did, it would not be capable of such a determination based on one batch alone.  Consider the Carolina Reaper, the current Guinness champion.  The pepper’s Scoville rating was certified by students at Winthrop University who test food as part of their undergraduate classes.  Their study was based on peppers provided by the Carolina Reaper’s creator himself.  Perhaps its creator is not only very good at cross breeding, but very good at bringing out the highest SHU of a particular pepper.

“But whether Currie’s peppers are truly the world’s hottest is a question that one scientist said can never be known. The heat of a pepper depends not just on the plant’s genetics, but also where it is grown, said Paul Bosland, director of the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University. ” – From the Daily Mail

Growing the World’s Hottest Peppers

Grow a Variety – The obvious first step in growing the hottest peppers in the world is to start with the right DNA.  The obvious first choice there is the current champion; The Carolina Reaper.  But there is no reason to stop there.  Your growing techniques, you soil, your climate, all of these things might contribute to another variety being hotter than the Guinness record holder.  Maybe one of the many 7 pot varieties.  You should experiment by growing different varieties.

Experiment with Nutrients – The Chili Factory in Australia swears by what they call ‘worm juice’.  We swear by composted duck poop in the spring and a steady supply of goat droppings over the winter.  The duck poop comes from dredging our duck ponds.  The goat poop comes from letting the garden grass and weed over after the last harvest and foraging our goats on the garden over the winter.

Save Seeds – You do not have to be a mad scientist to appreciate the best of a crop.  Its from those peppers that you want to save your seed for the next generation.  This way, the dna of your particular seeds improves year after year.

Keep Notes – Above all else, take notes.  Grow the same pepper variety in different conditions, see which conditions produce the best example of what you are looking for.  Ask brave friends to help you taste test your finished product.

Ed Currie is right.  There are people who simply want to claim they have eaten the hottest pepper in the world.  There is nothing wrong with wanting that feather under a person’s hat.  But if you are like me, the real fun is in growing, improving, and refining your particular line of peppers.

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