Ghost pepper is one of the top 10 hottest peppers in the world. And certified as the hottest chili pepper in 2007 by Guinness World Records. It's about 400 times hotter than the standard jalapeno pepper.
These hot and fiery ghost peppers rate more than 1,00,000 heat units on the Scoville scale, whereas the green bell pepper rate is 0 heat units. And jalapeno pepper ranges between 3000-7000 Scoville heat units.
Recently, this hot chili pepper is gained popularity for its signature heat and its complex spicy flavors. And now, ghost pepper sauces are the best sellers-from the local farmers market to the big online stores.
Besides regular sauces and salsas, the consumer market is flooded with ghost pepper-flavored foodstuffs, like ghost pepper chips or popcorn.
Furthermore, corporate giants started incorporating its flavor into their food products. Recently, Burger King launched Ghost pepper chicken nuggets to their product line to satisfy their spicy food lovers.
Ghost peppers are believed to be cultivated in northeast India. They are locally called ‘Bhut jolokia’, which translates into 'bhut' as ghost and 'jolokia' as chili pepper-indirectly referring to its fiery heat.
It is also known by other names like Bih zolokia, Naga morich, and Naga jolokia, depending on the region or province in India. On the other side of the globe, in Spain, the ghost pepper is known as ‘pimienta fantasma’.
In earlier days in northeast India, these hot peppers were used to build grenades and bombs. They are also used as home protectants against wild animals.
What does a ghost pepper look like?
These beauty charms look glossy with bright colors, thin flesh, and moderately crumbled skin. It has a pod-like structure with seeds intact to the rib at the center.
The size of the matured pepper ranges from 2.5cm to 3.5 cm. Many factors are responsible for its heat and length, including weather and temperature.
To our surprise, apart from the fiery red color, these are also available in other spectacular colors like chocolate, yellow, green, peach, purple, white, and more.
Not to mention, they may vary in color but never disappoint with their intense heat.
How hot are Ghost Peppers?
Ghost peppers are scorching hot; that's beyond our imagination. Do you know how many Scoville units is a ghost pepper? It is 855,000 – 1,041,427 SHU in Scoville scale.
Without getting into its technical background and heat measuring units, its heat is so outrageous that one can feel its tremendous heat even with a sniff.
One may even start sweating just by tasting a bit of ghost pepper. And may feel an acute burning sensation that can last up to an hour.
So, we strongly recommend wearing gloves while handling this pepper or any of its kind.
How does this taste like?
Initially, it tastes fruity, earthy, and mildly sweet for a few seconds. And once the heat starts developing and spreading over the palate, it becomes more prominent. Taste buds may feel more heat than pepper’s natural tastes.
The heat sensation is fiery hot for about 15 minutes to one hour, according to the individual’s tolerance level.
Is it safe to eat a ghost pepper?
Like any other hot chili peppers, these are edible and safe to eat.
Ghost peppers are delightful by keeping the following few factors into account.
The quantity of ghost pepper being served is the critical factor. Keeping the pepper’s proportion at the right amount in a recipe to match our heat sensitivity is vital.
Cooking with Ghost peppers
It has been widely used in Northeast Indian and Bangladesh cuisine for generations. They use them in making curry, soup, chutney, or pickles. The pickles are the most common form of using it.
These are added in the least quantity to the food to match the foodstuffs with its intolerable heat.
In Western nations, these are generally used in making sauce, salsa, and as a seasoning mix similar to jalapeno based recipes.
Ghost pepper hot sauces are making a rule in today's consumer market.
What is hotter than a ghost pepper?
2007, the Guinness World of Records certified ghost peppers as the world's hottest. And later, Trinidad Scorpion Butch, Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, and Naga Viper were declared hottest.
And now, in 2020, the Carolina reaper was crowned as the new hottest pepper, pushing ghost pepper to the place two.
Which is the hotter ghost pepper or Carolina Reaper?
Of course, the Carolina Reaper is hotter than the ghost pepper.
A few other peppers have special mentions, like Pepper X, Dragon’s Breath, and Apollo Pepper, which are claimed to be the hottest, but it's not official yet.
Ghost pepper vs. habanero
Habanero pepper’s heat ranges from 100,000 to 350,000 SHU, whereas ghost pepper is valued at 1,001,304 SHU by the New Mexico State University’s Chili Pepper Institute. The key takeaway is ghost peppers are 4 times hotter than habanero.
Both taste fruity in the initial stages and later, the ghost peppers comparatively turn super hot after a few seconds.
Fresh vs. Dried pepper
In the USA, the peppers are primarily sold in fresh farms, through farmers' markets, and grocery stores.
Dried chilies are hotter than the fresh ones, as their heat gets intensified through the aging process. It also develops a robust aroma and tastes Smokey when dried.
Similar to other chili peppers, these are excellent for storing.
Freeze. Store them in an air-sealed container or bag. And freeze them to use for up to 8 months.
Refrigerate. These may last for up to 15 days when refrigerated. After the prescribed date, it slowly loses its aroma.
As pickles. Pickling is the best method to use the peppers year-round without worrying about the season.
As sauces. Make the final product as the hot sauces are great and are followed by many of us extensively.
Dried. Drying process provides profound heat and intense flavors. This method is excellent for commercial purposes and small families as well. It is easy to store and with the least maintenance.
As powder. Dried peppers are suitable to store as powder and are convenient in the kitchen.