If you’ve ever ordered something on a menu labeled “spicy,” chances are you have felt the heat that some peppers can produce. What makes peppers so spicy, exactly? Read more to find out about the ingredient in peppers known for producing heat, which makes these veggies unique from others!
Capsaicin is a natural substance found in peppers that adds the heat. It is located in the spongy, inner part of peppers. If you want a pepper to taste less hot, remove these parts, as well as the seeds. Also, use caution when cooking with peppers! Capsaicin can get on your hands, causing you to feel a burning sensation, so it is a good idea to wear gloves when handling peppers. If you do not have gloves in your kitchen, put a small plastic sandwich bag over your hands to use as a glove substitute.
The Scoville Heat Scale measures the hotness of peppers. This scale tells us which peppers are the most mild to which are the hottest, in measurements called Scoville Heat Units. Mild red bell peppers have a rating of about 0, which means they are not hot at all. Habanero peppers are one of the spiciest peppers! Eating even a tiny piece of this pepper can cause a person to feel intense heat. They measure in at about 400,000 Scoville Heat Units!
If you’ve never eaten a spicy pepper before, try some tonight! Ease into the spiciness by adding a cut up green bell pepper to a salad or side dish, which does have a little kick. If you can handle that, work your way up until you meet the habanero, the spiciest of them all!