Scary Hot Franken-chiles
with Samuel Garrett
With Halloween right around the corner, we bring you one of the “scarier” spices— the Franken-chile. Also known as a hybrid chile, these chiles are crossbred from two different types to produce a brand new chile. Newly created hybrid chiles have traits and characteristics of both parent plants, usually producing an even hotter chile plant.
In 2012, a hybrid chile set a new record for the hottest chile in the world—the Carolina Reaper. A hybrid chile produced by crossbreeding past world record holding chile plants, this one is not for the faint of heart; its rating on the standard Scoville scale has been known to go past 2.2 million units. The Scoville scale measures the spicy heat of chile peppers as reported in Scoville heat units, a function of capsaicin concentration. Before the Carolina Reaper, the hottest chile on the Scoville scale was the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion chile, topping out at 2 million units.
Hybridization happens organically in nature, but it can also be controlled by anyone from a professional researcher to an amateur botanist. For those mad scientists out there interested in creating your own hybrid chile, let’s go through the basic steps. First, decide what two varieties of chiles you want to breed. Any two chile peppers can be hybridized as all chile peppers are from the genus Capsicum, but it will be easier if both are from the same species. Next, remove the petals and stamens from all the flowers of one plant, being sure to not damage the pistil on the inside. Then gather pollen from the stamen of the other chile plant and transfer it to the stigma (the tip) of the pistil on the first plant. Repeat this process of pollinating all the pistils and you have the beginnings of a hybrid chile!
What makes these Franken-chiles scary is when chile peppers are bred to make the hottest chiles in the world. Everyone has a certain level heat (or spiciness) that they can tolerate in food. Some brave souls actually want their food as hot as possible. Now labs are able to feed people’s desire to eat the hottest foods on Earth by creating the hottest chiles around.
Thankfully for those who love hot foods, Savory Spice Shop carries some scary hot chiles: Trinidad Moruga (a.k.a. Scorpion chile) and Bhut Jolokia (a.k.a. Ghost chile). These are the second and third hottest hybrid chiles in the world next to the newly crowned Carolina Reaper.
The Ghost chile weighs in at just over 1 million units on the Scoville scale and was the world’s hottest chile pepper until 2011. It was surpassed by the Scorpion chile, which can measure anywhere from 1.2 million up to 2 million Scoville units. To put this in perspective, bell peppers measure 0 on the Scoville scale while pure capsaicin can reach up to 16 million units. Jalapeños measure 2,500 to 8,000 units and common habaneros can range from 100,000 to 350,000 units. That means one Ghost chile is equivalent to at least 400 jalapeños or 6 habaneros. And one Scorpion chile can equal more than 1,000 jalapeños or 13 habaneros!
The Ghost and Scorpion chiles are definitely all about heat. However, once you get past the heat you'll notice a balanced, slightly fruity flavor. Use them to add heat as desired, but remember that such extreme heat can be potentially dangerous. Use extreme caution when working with these chiles; wear protective gloves and wash all utensils and work spaces thoroughly with soap and water when finished.
If you find yourself in need of relief from the heat from one of these scorchers, try one of these proven methods to cool down the hot chile burn:
- Dairy: The casein in milk products breaks up the chile’s heat-producing capsaicin and essentially pulls it off your tongue.
- Bread: Carbohydrates help absorb the capsaicin oils that carry the heat. The sugars in carbs are also thought to lessen the heat.
- Acidic drinks: The acidity in lemonade, tomato juice or even pickle juice can help neutralize the alkaline capsaicin.
On the other hand, if you can’t get enough of the heat, check out one of the recipes below featuring the more approachable Ghost chile. They are sure spark your appetite for something hot…or give someone you know a scary good Halloween treat!
Using varying levels of Ghost Curry Powder, the cookies have two variations, one trick (hot) and one treat (mild). Make one batch of each and see who can tell the difference at your Halloween party!
These make adorable Halloween party treats. With noticeable heat from our Ghost Curry Powder, these cookies are frighteningly good. A deliciously smooth filling featuring Madagascar vanilla extract and ground Ceylon cinnamon helps combine the heat with the sweet to create one tasty treat.
Chile and chocolate were born to go together. Here, a chocolate and cinnamon-kissed brownie batter is swirled with a peanut butter filling spiced with Ghost Curry Powder and ginger extract. The heat level varies depending on how much of the peanut butter swirl ends up in your piece of brownie, so each bite is an adventure.
As the finishing touch on an easy-to-make beer pretzel, Ghost Pepper Salt makes this recipe perfect for Halloween snacks or football game fare. In the spicy salt blend, heat from the Ghost chile is balanced by bittersweet chocolate extract. While the chocolate doesn’t alleviate the heat, it does make the impact more pleasant. And the salt gives the blend an addictive quality.