What Are Scotch Bonnet Peppers?

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Scotch bonnet peppers have a high level of capsicum and are one of the hottest peppers. Capsicum is a chemical that runs through the veins of the inside of the pepper; it creates the burn when chile peppers are eaten. Capsicum is measured on a Scoville scale, which is determined by the amount of sugar water it takes to dilute the pepper.

Scoville Level

  • The Scoville heat rating of the Scotch bonnet pepper is 150,000 to 325,000, which is very hot! To put that in perspective, the well-known jalapeno pepper measures only 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville units. Although the Scotch bonnet is very hot, it is still quite far from the hottest known pepper, the Naga Viper, which measures 800,000 to 1,360,000 Scoville units. When Scotch bonnet peppers are dried to extend shelf life, they maintain their heat level.

Appearance

  • Scotch bonnets get their name because the pepper resembles a bonnet that worn by females. Scotch bonnets measure 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter and have four or five lobes on the top of the bonnet. They have stalks no longer than 1 1/4 inches and have a color that ranges from bright yellow to orange or red. Scotch bonnets are picked when they are immature and bright green colored.

History

  • The Scotch bonnet pepper is known to have been called "Goat Pepper" as far back as the year 1767 because of its unique sweet aroma that smells like a goat. Although Scotch bonnet peppers are thought to have originated in Central to South America, they are now grown all over Jamaica because they are used so often there in food such as in Jamaican jerk dishes, and they grow well in the tropical climate.

Uses

  • Scotch bonnet peppers are used in various hot sauces and pepper mashes to create extremely hot sauces. They are often mixed with other peppers to create milder or hotter sauces, depending on the heat preference. The hot and sweet peppers are also used in spicy stews and salsas that are served with chicken, pork or beef. For those who can tolerate spicy foods, the Scotch bonnet offers a lot of sweet pepper flavor that lends a fresh flavor and complements many foods.

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  • Photo Credit Kim Carson/Photodisc/Getty Images
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