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A Chilli pepper is classified as the genus capsicum. There are 5 different domesticated species Capsicum. frutescens, C. annuum, C. baccatum, C. pubescens, C. chinense. There are another 20 wild species and more undiscovered ones.
But all chillies that are available to us fall into these 5 categories although some can be cross breeds of 2 different types. Pubescens can’t be crossed with other types. The feared Bhut Jolokia is supposed to be a cross of futescens/chinense. The hottest varieties tend to be C. chinense like habaneros, scotch bonnet, Naga Morich and Bhut Jolokia.
The capsaicin in chillies is what is responsible for the heat. These are alkaloid compounds that are produced by glands in the placenta of the fruit. Pure capsaicin is 16,000,000 Scoville (SHU) Units. A bell pepper has 0 SHU units. A Bhut Jolokia can reach over 1 million SHU. A Jalapeno is around 5-10,000 SHU. A full list of my chilli varieties is in the Chilli Varieties and Hotness section.
The hotter the chilli pepper, the more capsaicin it contains. The hottest varieties include Naga Morich, Bhut Jolokia, Bih Jolokia, habañero and Scotch bonnet peppers. Jalapeños are much lower in their heat and capsaicin content, followed by the milder varieties, including Spanish pimentos, Serranos, Anaheim and Hungarian cherry peppers.
If you or someone you know eats too much chilli there are a few things that can cool the heat. A glass of milk is probably the quickest and easiest solution. Plain rice is good, as it soaks up the oils that are in your mouth. Yoghurt and ice cream also do a very good job at cooling the heat. Water may help a little but really all it does is wash all those capsaicinoids around your mouth, and as they are not water soluble, your mouth will keep on burning.
For this same reason beer doesn’t cure the heat either but for some reason it does seem to help. One other way is just to eat a plain piece of bread. A mixture of sugar, lime and water will help too. So go on, have a big serving of chilli today with one of these backup protectors on hand and you’ll be right. Caribbean Red Habanero Plant, It won’t kill you, and in fact, eating chilli has wonderful health benefits – read about them in our Health Benefit Section. Finally, it is interesting to note that chilli is the second most used condiment in the world, after salt.