We humans can enjoy a little pain if there is a little reward that follows. Eating extremely hot chile peppers is just that. You start out with a big bite and start chewing! At first you notice the flavor and a little heat and think this is not to bad. However in just a few moments that heat starts to build higher and higher. Your senses begin telling you that this is really hot. Our bodies release endorphins into our blood stream from the pituitary gland that prevent nerve cells from releasing more pain signals to the brain (a morphine-like feeling). The sense of well being produced by the endorphin can last several hours after the burning sensation stops. This is where the term “endorphin rush” has come from.
Chile peppers are members of the Capsicum family. The particular substances that determine their heat factor is known, by those who study such things, as Capsaicinoids. The two most common are Capsaicin and Di-Hydrocapsaicin.
The variety of pepper that has the most Capsaicinoids and therefor heat, as we humans perceive it, is the Capsicum chinense. The reason for the name of this species dates way back to 1776. The Dutch guy that named it believed that they originated in China, but they do not. One of the unique things about the Capsicum chinense is the delay between the time you start eating and start experiencing the heat. By the time you realize you have bitten off more that you can handle, it’s to late. The heat will continue to build several minutes after you have swallowed or have spit it out.
To demonstrate this delayed reaction to the Capsicum chinense peppers I put together a short video on how to make a funny hot pepper eating video, listing the main components that should be included. Enjoy the heat.
I had a customer and his wife stop by recently that commented on how beautiful all the gardens look. He asked if they could take photos to inspire there creativity. There was an area they wanted to turn into an English type garden (the were from England).
To be honest I was a little embarrassed at how it looked. About two years ago the pump for the water garden broke down. I did not discover the problem until to late. The pump was providing needed circulation to Koi the water for the Koi fish.
Our six fish were raise from about three inches long to about two feet long over a period of ten years. They were the center piece of the fragrant spice garden that leads to the shade garden. Both areas had be a pleasant place to sit and enjoy a cool drink, enjoy a meal or just sit, observe and meditate.
The problem was discover when some of the grand children came to visit and feed the fish. As we enter the garden through the rose covered arbor entrance there was an anticipation fun around the corner. The large beautiful Koi were floating belly up. This was a shock for all to see.
After that tragic event I was somewhat discouraged. The pump had not been replaced nor had we spent much time in maintenance of the garden. So I said. ” You should of seen it a few years ago”, and tried to describe some of the features of the past. Then my memory kicked in and I remembered how I took many photos one year.
After finding the CD with the photos and viewing it, I was once again inspired by the beauty of God’s creation in nature. So I put this short slide show together to make it easy to relive and enjoy a garden of the past for myself and your viewing pleasure too.
Harvesting pepper seeds in large volume is not a difficult job if using the fermentation process.
Why Ferment Pepper Seeds?
Fermenting some seeds can dramatically improve their ability to sprout. Fermentation removes germination-inhibiting substances from seed coats, makes them more permeable to water, and also helps reduce or control seed-borne diseases (for healthier seedlings).
Purposely fermenting seeds mimics the natural process of fermentation that occurs when ripe fruits are eaten by animals or drop to the ground and rot. When we intervene to keep seeds from fermenting naturally, it becomes necessary to ferment them artificially so they can complete their natural ripening cycle.
Seed Collecting Process
Pick only fully ripe fruit
Wash fruit and de-stem (if keeping fruit)
Cull distorted or insect damaged
Cut fruit open (discard if mold or insect damaged inside
Cut or scrape out placenta with attached seeds
Place extracted seeds in tall container (glass, plastic)
Add well water just to cover, let sit 4-7 days, stir once a day
When fermentation complete decant pulp from good seed
Treat and rinse
Dry and store
After picking, discard all fruit that is not fully ripe, is insect damaged or has a mold infestation. The seed from this type of fruit will be of low quality or they can contaminate your good seed.
Unripe fruit contains seeds that are not fully developed. They may produce week or stunted plants. The seeds from overripe fruit (dry pods) can start to germinate during a warm fermentation, causing them to sprout. Most of these seeds will be removed by the fermentation process.
Wash fruit thoroughly to remove any soil and debris. Use a brush on fruit that has crevices.
When cutting into fruit it is best to ware gloves and face protection to keep the capsaicin and capsaicinoids off your skin and a flying seed out of your eye. Once you start feeling the heat from capsaicin exposure on your hands its to late. The burning sensation can last for days. Read “Help I’m On Fire!”
Use a container the appropriate size for the volume of seed you are processing, quart or half gallon mason jar, one gallon pickle jar or five gallon bucket. Seed and pulp mass should not exceed about 1/4 the volume of the container. Store in a room that is between 75F and 80F degrees. Fermentation will be evidenced by bubbling and/or by the formation of a white mold on the surface of the mixture. As soon as the bubbling or white mold has been evident for 2-4 days, the seeds should separate easily by vigorous stirring once a day.
Adding to much water slows the fermentation process. Adding a few over ripe fruit can speed the fermentation process. Using clear containers allows you see the seeds separate fall to the bottom.
Add clean water to top, stir, let seeds settle to bottom then pour off pulp and bad seeds (immature seeds are light weight and float). Repeat several times until water in container is clear and free of debris.
Treat seeds by soaking in a mixed solution of 3 Teaspoon of 5% Chlorine Bleach or 1 Tablespoon of TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) into one quart of warm water for 5-10 minutes and then rinse for 10-15 minutes under cold running water. Using a sieve to contain the seeds is very helpful and makes it easy to rinse after treatment. This kills most seed born disease. Soaking seeds in an overly strong solution or for to long a time can kill the seeds. This step is precautionary and may not be required if your soil is disease free. All pepper seeds from Uncle Steve at usHOTstuff.com have been treated and are ready to plant.
To dry, let seeds drain well for 5-10 minutes. Bouncing seeds on a cotton cloth or towel helps remove extra water. Spread wet seeds on several layers of paper towels or news papers. If doing several varieties at a time be sure to label each batch. Many pepper seeds look alike. The thinner the seeds are spread the quicker they will dry. For faster drying replace wet blotter paper after 12 hours. Place in an area with good air circulation and low humidly for at least one week, two weeks is better. Label and store in air tight containers. If done properly seeds remain viable for 2-5 years or longer.
Before sale or use, preform a Germination Test to check the percentage of viable seed. Seed batches with less than 80% germination are not considered commercially viable and should not be sold but are fine for personal use. Seeds that have been stored for a long time will become dormant and require a much longer time to germinate.
The 2011 growing season in central Virginia will be one for the record books, but not in a good way. It started good with an early, warm spring, but the heavy rains delayed pepper crop planting as well as many other crops. If you took the chance and planted early you were ahead of schedule. The usual mid May planting was delayed by the heavy rains. You just could not work the wet soil.
Next comes the the heat at over 105F and no rain. Irrigation was a daily process. Miss a day and your plants suffered. Then comes the invasion of the insects, For the last two year there has been a record number of stink bugs. With no natural enemies they continue to proliferate at alarming numbers. Growing organically has its challenges. Hand picking stinkbug and eggs has consumed a lot of time.
Heading into late summer and the start of harvest we were hit with very heavy flooding rains combined with high winds. The ground was totally saturated with water so when the high winds hit, 40-60% of the crop was damaged by being flatten or even worse broken off at the base, killing the plant.
Now just to make this season truly unforgettable add in hurricane Irene and a 6.0 earthquake. The wind and rain from the hurricane was not as damaging compared to the all day thunder storms. Other than a few cracks in the walls and loosing a few item that fell off shelves the earthquake did no harm except to our nerves.
To summarize, its been a bad year and crop production has been low. So if you purchase from the central east coast order your peppers and seeds early or you may miss out.
Way back in 1989 a chile farmer, Frank Garcia, found a mutant plant of red habaneros in his field of orange habaneros. At the time he did not take much notice of the anomaly other than it was very different in color. So he plucked the plant up and tossed it on his tractor then forgot about it for a while. As it turned out this strange plant would be the start of something new, the Red Savaina Habanero. It has several outstanding features, it ripened to a shiny bright red, was much larger and had a thicker wall than its orange counter part, and measured a whopping 577,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units). This was ruffly 200,000 SHU higher than what was thought to be “as hot as it gets”, setting the Guinness World Records in 1994.
Red Savaina Habanero
In 2000, scientists at India’s Defense Research Laboratory (DRL) reported a pepper, Naga Jolokia(aka Ghost Pepper), with a rating of 855,000 units on the Scoville scale, and in 2004 an Indian export company called Frontal Agritech obtained a rating of 1,041,427 Scoville units, which would mean a new world record, being over twice as hot as the Red Savina pepper and roughly equal to the similar-looking Dorset Naga, which is derived from the Naga Jolokia (C. chinese) a variety grown in West Bexington, Dorset, England. It was claimed in March 2006 to be the world’s hottest chile at 876,000 and 970,000 SHU. It was developed by Michael and Joy Michaud from the Naga Morich or Naga Jolokia chile, cultivated in Bangladesh that they purchased at an Indian market in England. As part of the 2006 program, the BBC gardening team ran a trial looking at several chili varieties, including Dorset Naga. Heat levels, that were tested by Warwick HRI and the Dorset Naga came in at 1,598,227 SHU, the hottest heat level ever recorded for a chili. It is not clear if this variety is different in any significant way from the original pepper from which is was developed. For a short period of time it was the hottest chile pepper in the world. It then became the second hottest pepper in the world at 876,000-970,000 Scoville units.
Naga Jolokia is also called Bih Jolokia in some places of Assam (Bih = Poison, Jolokia = chile pepper; in Assamese). Other names are Bhut Jolokia (probably due to its ghostly bite or introduction by the Bhutias from Bhutan poison chile), Borbih Jolokia, Nagahari, Nagajolokia, Naga Morich, Dorset Naga (from a farm market in the UK), Naga Moresh, Raja Mirchi (the king of chiles) and Ghost Pepper (because after eating one you “give up the Ghost”). These are all the same chile but named differently at different places, a common problem when trying to identify chile peppers. The Naga name may be due to extreme hotness represented by the aggressive temperament of the warriors of neighboring Naga community. Chile is known as Morich in Bangla.
Dr. Paul Bosland, Director of the Chile Pepper Institute at the New Mexico State University criticize with great skepticism and would not accept the findings of the Indian scientists from DRL in 2000 or Frontal Agritech in 2004. Dr. Bosland had obtained Naga Jolokia seed in 2001 and been growing them for 5 years saying nothing to shed light on the pepper until he submitted his variety for testing and was crowned by Guinness World Records as the hottest in the world at 1,001,304 SHU inspite of the hotter findings by scientists at DRL.
The Infinity Chile Pepper is a chili pepper created in England by chili breeder Nick Woods of Fire Foods, Grantham, Lincolnshire. For two weeks the Infinity Chilli held the Guinness World Record title for the world’s hottest chilli with a Scoville scale rating of 1,067,286 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).
Flash forward, December 2010, Gerald Fowler, who runs a chili pepper company in Cumbria, England produces a chile pepper he calls the “Naga Viper”, an unstable three-way hybrid cross, between the Naga Jolokia, Naga Morich and the Trinidad Scorpion, measuring at a whopping 1,359,000 SHU. Once again the record is broken and a new heat level is reached.
Three month later, March 2011, a Trinidad Scorpion chile pepper grown in New South Wales, Australia, was tested and according to Guinness World Records, is currently the hottest chile pepper grown. It measured 1,463,700 SHU!
One thing to keep in mind is that the same pepper grown from the same seed stock can very greatly in heat range from year to year. This is caused by climate, weather and soil conditions that change each growing season. This is why test results can have a wide range for the same chile pepper. To some real degree, who grows the hottest can come down to how much rain and 90F+ degree weather or lack thereof your crop receive compared to your competitor. When chile plants are stressed they produce more Capsaicin, the chemical that makes pepper hot, to protect the seeds.