Stuff You Should Know Podcast: Chile Peppers

7/10 microphones, Listen Here 

  • Bell pepper is a chile pepper, just not spicy
  • One of oldest domesticated crops in South America between 5-12k years ago in Brazil or Bolivia (heated debate…)
  • Originally spread by birds who cannot feel spice in their beaks and thus immune to hot chiles
    • Tip: Spraying hot pepper sauce on bird feeders is safe for birds and effective on keeping away them darn squirrels
    • People/birds cannot digest pepper or any other seeds (like corn) as they are covered with cellulose
  • Originally known as Chiles before Columbus among the Aztecs and others)
    • Columbus (who is just terrible. Pretty much a rapist and murders…) though incorrectly that they were related to Black Pepper and thus called them Chile Peppers
    • Columbus brought them to Europe and it spread from there like crazy
  • 25 wild species and 5 domesticated species/cultivars
    • In general, once domesticated humans stop using wild varieties, but not with chile peppers whose wild varieties are still hot stuff…
    • Part of the nighshade family with potatoes, tomatoes
    • Capsicum annuum, Capsicum chinense, Capsicum frutescens, Capsicum baccatum, Capsicum pubescens
  • Heat comes from alkaloids called capsaicin
  • Seeds are attached to pepper via white stuff called placenta, and the membrane is really the source of the hotness
  • Pain not from taste receptors, but from pain receptors in your mouth (TRPv1 receptor)
    • Same thing that tells you coffee is hot
  • Can be used a Pain Reliever: Capsaicin can find these receptors on the skin and overloads them so much that they can’t transmit pain signals to the brain
  • Do not cause ulcers and in fact can protect the stomach lining
  • Can thin the blood, so be careful if taking an anticoagulant medication
  • Water just moves it around, not help – You want something fatty like milk/sour cream as it dissolves the capsaicin
  • Mammals are not immune, people are only mammals who like to eat hot peppers
    • Can trigger release of endorphins that make you feel amazing…
  • Measuring Heat of Peppers: Scoville Scale
    • Scoville was a pharmacist who developed the Scoville organoleptic test (the prior test was just asking people if something was hot)
    • Scoville Heat Unit: How many cups of water to dilute 1 cup of pepper extract the point that a person can no longer feel the heat
      • Bell Pepper: 0
      • Red Savinia Haberno: 500,000 = It would take 500,000 cups of water to dilute 1 cup of extract it to the point that nobody can taste the hotness (yikes)
    • We no longer use the Scoville method, but we still use his name
    • Today liquid chromatography is used: Looks for parts/million of capsaicin in any pepper (is generally 16x the original Scoville Heat Unit)
  • Chipotle Peppers = Smoked Habenero
  • Ancho Peppers: = Dried Poblano (great for Chile Relleno)
  • Types of Peppers: 2 ways to classify (heat and shape [A-I])
    • All Bell Peppers are the same pepper, just ripened for less time (green is just harvested first, then yellow, orange and red)
      • Red also has 11x the beta-carotene and 1.5x vitamin C vs. Green
      • Paprika is smoked red pepper
      • Chocolate, purple and white also exist, but there are different varieties
    • Rule of thumb: Thin and long = hottest
      • Exception: Scotch bonnet is pumpkin shaped and orange
      • Dehydrated peppers are hotter
    • Chile Pepper Institute (U. of NM): New Mexico is largest cultivator of chile peppers in the US
      • India is the world’s largest producer
      • 5 Part Heat Profile: Scoville Heat unit, speed it hits you, whether it lingers/how long, where it is sensed (throat, tongue, etc.), flat (coats whole tongue) vs. Flat (hot needles)
    • Chile Pepper Community: The Fire Eaters, New Yorker 
      • No 1 governing body to determine the spiciest pepper (they don’t trust Guinness)
        • Constantly being cultivated and improving…
      • Should it be the peak or the mean spice?
        • Guinness Record Holder (using mean): Carolina Reaper with a mean of 1,569,300 scoville heat units and peak of over 2.2 million
          • Cross of Ghost Pepper (past champ) with red habanero
          • English restaurant called Bindi with curry with 20 ghost peppers (3/4 people we able to finish it)
        • Also, who cares…?
      • When working with super hot peppers, you NEED TO WEAR GLOVES (nitrile gloves), washing hands isn’t enough, even the next day
        • Maybe use a respirator if cooking with hot peppers (it’s like tear gas)
      • Storage: Dry, freeze, pickle, fridge
      • Growing: Perennials
        • Start as seeds 10 weeks prior to last frost
        • Then start to harden them a couple hours a day to harden them
        • Fertilize
        • Harvest at step to increase shelf life
      • Off Label Uses: Rub on pain parts, lower blood pressure, anticoagulants, lower LDL, maybe cancer (found capsaicin can attack tumors)

Sponsors: Betterment (6 months free,

Uncategorized : , ,
Notes By Mr. Podcast Notes

More Notes on these topics

Top Insights and Tactics From

31 Best Podcasts of All Time

FREE when you join over 35,000 subscribers to the
Podcast Notes newsletter

No Thanks