Peppers come in all shapes, sizes, flavors, and heat levels. The level of heat is designated by its Scoville Heat Units. On the scoville scale, originally developed from Wilbur Scoville, the heat level of a pepper was determined by a taste test.
This test is now recognized as the organoleptic test. The test was conducted by a panel of subjective individuals tasting a dilution of the capsaicinoids contained in a pepper. This naturally occurring chemical is what gives a pepper its spiciness. When the majority of the panel can no longer sense the heat in the mixture, a number is assigned in multiples of 100 SHU.
This method is not the most reliable way of measuring capsaicin levels as it is based on opinion rather than a quantitative measurement of the chemical itself. This has led to more tests becoming available. Today how much heat a given pepper has is determined by a high-performance liquid chromatography assessment.
This test measures the concentration of capsaicinoids and reports it as the parts per million of dried pepper mass with a pungency unit. However, you will likely still see this number displayed with the units labeled SHU as it can be converted to Scoville Heat Units by using a conversion factor of 16.
When it comes to products made from peppers you will need to take into account their heat levels are not solely determined by the peppers used. When peppers are utilized in cooking the amount of water included may dilute the capsaicin, making it seem like it has less heat than it is capable of.
Likewise you may magnify the effects of a pepper’s spice by creating a higher concentrate. If you are interested in more information regarding the values for specific peppers, head on over to our Scoville Heat Scale page where we list some of the most well known varieties and where they fall on the scale.
Over time peppers have become quite the popular fruit with many events being held around the world to celebrate and discover the newest pepper developments and creations. If you are interested in attending an event, Cayennediane has a great list of events occurring throughout the world.
If you are a pepper enthusiast we would love to hear about your favorite peppers and see what you make with them. Post your favorites to social media with the hashtag #Trueleafmarket .