Not the weather – that PEPPER! Although we are finally getting heat and, typically, plenty of it all at once, we speak here of peppers.
|TigerPaw-NR is one of the spiciest peppers|
Developed by chemist Wilbur Scoville, the scale measures hotness of peppers by measuring the capsaicin (cap-say-ah-sin) content.
It's good for comparisons between types of peppers but remember that plants grown in different conditions may be hotter or sweeter than rated.
|Use caution when handling hot peppers.|
So here goes, a listing of some of the most popular types is below. Go to the Scoville Scale online for a more complete listing.
Fighting the Burn
Capsaicin is alkaline oil. Water and alcohol don’t help because they won’t dissolve the oil and only spread it around. Acidic food or drink helps neutralize the oil. Try lemon, lime or orange juice, cold lemonade, or tomato drinks (not a Bloody Mary - see above).
Dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, sour cream and ice cream are acidic and may help. Eating carbohydrate foods such as bread or tortillas may help by absorbing some of the oil. Chew these but don’t swallow. Did you know that most hot-chili eating contests provide bowls of powdered milk and water to participants?
For skin irritations (you weren’t careful?), wash off the oil with soap and warm water. Dry and repeat if needed. Remember, capsaicin is oil and can be spread to other parts of the body by touching. Also, wash all utensils and cutting surfaces with soap and water after use to avoid spreading the oil.
Benefits of Capsaicin
Paradoxically, capsaicin's knack to cause pain makes it helpful in alleviating pain. National Institute of Health research supports the topical use of capsaicin for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis by lowering sensitivity to pain. Capsaicin can be found in over-the-counter creams and plasters.
Check these other links for more information
The Gut-Wrenching Science Behind the World's Hottest Peppers by Mary Roach (always an entertaining writer) for Smithsonian Magazine