Hot peppers are used often in Thai, Mexican, Spanish and Indian cuisine. The newest world’s hottest pepper, the Naga Viper, comes from a man’s greenhouse in England, however. The Naga Viper rates more than 271 times hotter than the most popular pepper, the jalapeno.
Naga Viper grown in England
As the owner of both a pub and the Chili Pepper Company, Gerald Fowler has long been breeding hot chilies. By crossing three very hot chilies, Fowler was able to create the Naga Viper pepper. The Bhut Jolokia pepper was crossed with the Naga Norich and Trinidad Scorpion plants to create the Naga Viper. This crossbreeding took him several years but was all done in his tiny 8-by-16-foot greenhouse. Fowler believes that by growing the peppers in a harsher environment like England’s, he helps encourage hotter peppers because they have to “fight back.”
Rating the heat of the Naga Viper
Chili peppers and their heat are rated using the Scoville scale. This scale measures the amount of capsicum in a pepper. Capsicum is the active compound that gives hot peppers and pepper spray their heat. The previous record holder, the Ghost Pepper, took the record in 2007 for a Scoville rating of 1,001,304. The Naga Viper was tested by Warwick university and is rated at 1,359,000 on the Scoville scale. By comparison, mace spray carried by police officers rates about 5 million on the Scoville scale.
Uses for the Naga Viper
Fowler has said that he originally developed the Naga Viper as a way to make an ultra-hot curry. Fowler’s curry is said to be “hot enough to strip paint … numbs your tongue and burns all the way down.” The endorphin rush is reportedly just as good as the heat is bad, though. While he has created curries using the Naga Viper (which customers have to sign a release to eat), there are other uses being examined. The Indian government is researching the possibility of purchasing the Naga Viper for two uses – to help farmers replace opium poppy as a cash crop, and to create a non-lethal “pepper bomb.”