A few items of interest for those
interested in chili peppers

Scoville Test For Capsaicin--A Thermal Richter Scale

From Margen, S. et. al (1992).The wellness encyclopedia of food and nutrition: How to buy, store, and prepare every variety of fresh food. Distributed by Random House. ISBN 0-929661-03-6.

"All hot peppers contain capsaicinoids, natural substances that produce a burning sensation in the mouth, causing the eyes to water and the nose to run, and even induce perspiration. Capsaicinoids have no flavor or odor, but act directly on the pain receptors in the mouth and throat. The primary capsaicinoid, capsaicin, is so hot that a single drop diluted in 100,000 drops of water will produce a blistering of the tongue.

"Capsaicinoids are found primarily in the pepper's placenta--the white "ribs" that run down the middle and along the sides of a pepper. Since the seeds are in such close contact with the ribs, they are also often hot. In the rest of the vegetable, capsaicinoids are unevenly distributed throughout the flesh, so it is likely that one part of the same pepper may be hotter ot milder than another. You can reduce the amount of heat in a chili pepper by removing the ribs and seeds, but you must wear gloves while doing so.

"Capsaicinoid content is measured in parts per million. These parts per million are converted into Scoville heat units, the industry standard for measuring a pepper's punch. One part per million is equivalent to 15 Scoville units. Bell peppers have a value of zero Scoville units, whereas habaneros -- the hottest peppers--register a blistering 200,000 to 300,000.Pure capsaicin has a Scoville heat unit score of 16 million." (p.140)

A Pictorial Guide To Peppers

ImageNameScoville UnitsNative Regions
Habanero100K-300KYucatan, Caribbean
Scotch Bonnet100K-250KJamaica, Caribbean, Belize
Jamaican Hot100K-200KJamaica, other Caribbean islands
Thai50K-100KSoutheast Asia, California
Cayenne30K-50KLouisiana, Mexico, Asia, Africa
Serrano10K-23KMexico, Southwest U.S.
Wax5K-10KMexico, California, Southwest U.S.
Jalapeno2.5K-5KOaxaca, Chihauhau, Texas, Southwest US
Rocotillo1.5K-2.5KSouth America
Poblano1K-1.5KPuebla, Mexico City region, California
New Mexico500-1,000Rio Grande Valley
Pepperoncini100-500Mediterranean Basin, California
Bell Pepper0Holland, Mediterranean Basin, California
Sweet Italian0Mediterranean Basin, California
Pure Capsaicin16 MillionChemistry Labs

Peppers and Health

From Margen, S. et. al (1992).The wellness encyclopedia of food and nutrition: How to buy, store, and prepare every variety of fresh food. Distributed by Random House. ISBN 0-929661-03-6.

"Are hot peppers bad for you? Proably not, according to recent studies. A common concern is that hot peppers or other spicy foods cause ulcers, but there's no evidence that they do. Studies of areas where hot peppers are used extensively in cooking, such as Brazil and Thailand, have found no higher incidence of stomach ulcers among their populations. And in a study conducted at a Veterans Administration hospital, researchers ground up about an ounce of jalapeno pepper and injected it directly into the stomachs of volunteers. Follow-up observation showed no damage to their stomach linings. Nor do hot peppers aggravate or cause hemorrhoids, as has often been claimed, since capsaicinoids...are broken down before they reach the lower intenstine.

"Actually, evidence has shown that peppers may have some beneficial properties. Capsaicin--the predominant capsaicinoid--has been found to work as an anticoagulant, thus possibly helping prevent heart attacks or strokes caused by blood clot. Small amounts of capsaicin can produce numbing of the skin and have a slight anti-inflammatory effect. In some countries, peppers are used in salves.

"Moreover, peppers are high in vitamin C, which, in turn, may be effective in protecting against cancer. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, a chemical substance capable of removing the threat from free radicals, which can cause cells to mutate.... (p.141)."

"By weight, green bell peppers have twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruit; red peppers have three times as much. Hot peppers contain even more vitamin C, 357 percent more than an orange. And red peppers are quite a good source of beta carotene... (p.136)."

Remedies For the Pepper's Bite

From Berkley, R. (1992). Peppers: A Cookbook. New York: Simon, Schuster. ISBN 0-671-74598-0

"There are several remedies for the effects of eating a pepper that is too hot for you, something that is usually discovered when it is too late. (Eventually, you can build up tolerance to the heat of peppers, and will be able to eat hotter and hotter chilis without having to resort to these cures.) Many people recommend drinking tomato juice or eating a fresh lemon or lime, the theory being that the acid counteracts the alkalinity of the capsaicin. Some people won't begin eating hot peppers without a pitcher of cold water handy, though this is not the best idea. The capsaicin, which is an oil, does not mix with the water but is instead distributed to more parts of the mouth. More useful solutions include drinking milk (rinsing the mouth with it as you sip) or eating rice or bread, which absorb the capsaicin. My own favorite retaliation against attack by hot chili pepper is to simply eat another. And if that doesn't work, eat another one.......(p.9)."

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