Meat+Poultry - July 2018 - 47

America's continued
obession with spicy
foods includes
ethnic flavors such
as these Brazilian
meat skewers.

impacts their unique aroma, taste and degree
of heat.
The odorless, tasteless, crystalline chemical
compound - capsaicin - found in chili peppers
is responsible for the sensation of "a mouth
on fire." When consumed, capsaicin stimulates
nerve endings in the mouth, triggering
production of the neurotransmitter called
substance P. This in turn signals the brain that
the body is in pain.
The concentration of capsaicin in chili

peppers is measured in Scoville Heat Units
(SHU). This was originally determined using
a test that measured the degree to which a
chili pepper solution must be diluted before
capsaicin was no longer detectable to a
professional taster. Today SHU is determined in
a less subjective test called high-performance
liquid chromatography, which measures
capsaicin content. Pure capsaicin tops out the
Scoville scale at 16,000,000 SHU.
To compare, bell peppers, which are part
of the Capsicum genus yet lack capsaicin,
score zero on the Scoville scale, while ancho
peppers, also known as poblanos, are 1,000
to 2,000 SHU. Chipotles and jalapeños range
from 2,500 to 10,000 SHU. Guajillos are dried
mirasol chilies, which are only about 2,500
to 5,000 SHU. Pasillas are milder, at 1,000 to
2,500 SHU.
Chili peppers possess flavor, but depending
on their degree of heat, the flavor may not get
tasted by the consumer. Because consumers
vary in their threshold for heat, some might
taste flavors while others do not.
Common flavorful chili peppers include
chipotles, which are made by smoking and
drying jalapeños; thereby, having a woodsy,
smoky flavor. Anchos possess a rich, dark
cherry and raisin sweetness. Guajillos boast a
moderately spicy, tangy flavor with a touch of
citrus while pasillas have a unique, complex
flavor that starts out like prune and finishes
with a hint of licorice.
There are several varieties of habanero
peppers, ranging from little to no heat to fiery
hot (500,000-plus SHU), which makes them
so popular, as they can be blended together
or with other ingredients to develop unique
flavor profiles. In general, habaneros possess
a fruity, citrusy flavor, which is why they are
often paired with fruits, with mango being the
most common.
At 800,000 to 1,000,000-plus SHU, the Bhut
Jolokia pepper, also known as ghost pepper,
was certified as the hottest chili pepper on
the planet in The Guinness Book of World
Records in 2007, but no longer holds that title.
As of August 2013, the Carolina Reaper, which
can be as hot as 2,200,000 SHU holds the title.
There are also more than 10 other peppers that
have since been identified that are hotter than
the ghost pepper. As you can imagine, with
such hot peppers, the human palate can only

Chipotle peppers are
commonly used to bring
heat to meat products. | 07.18 | MEAT+ POULTRY


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat+Poultry - July 2018