Chilis Galore

One of the highlights of last week’s travels was some on-the-spot training in chili identification.

While at Mangrove Mountain I met up with John Leone, a ‘chili head’ extraordinaire. He gave me a beautiful collection of chilies, all picked fresh from his extensive collection.

I took down the names and some interesting information, as well as photographing them.

Every chili in these photos is different. John has a website, and he sells seeds. If you are a serious chili aficionado, I suggest you check it out.

chili collection #1:

Just in case you cannot read my writing, here are their names.

For the photo above, all names left to right.

Top Row: Rocoto Peron, Manzano Orange, Manzano Red.
Second Row: Naga Morich, Aussie Black, Royal Black.
Third Row: Burkina, Scotch Bonnet, Peruvian Chinense.
Fourth Row: Aji Cristal, Aji Amarillo.
Fifth Row: Aji Habañero, tiny Bolivian Chacoense.
Bottom Row: Siam #1 and #2, Eximium, Bishop’s Crown

The chili heat identification scale is called the Scoville Scale. It is abbreviated as SHU (Scoville Heat Units). However chili heat is more commonly identified on a scale of 1 to 10, ten being blisteringly hot. I guess 1 Scoville is so many tens or hundreds of SHU sub-units. I forgot to ask John.

The chilies above range from searingly hot to mild. The hottest one above is the Naga Morich, an astonishing 1,000,000 SHU! It is one of the hottest on the planet.

Wikipedia has this to say:

“The Bhut Jolokia (also known as Naga Jolokia, Ghost Chili, Ghost Pepper, Naga Morich) is a chili pepper that grows in northeastern India (Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur), Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. In 2006, it was confirmed by Guinness World Records to be the hottest chili in the world, displacing the Red Savina.”

I first tasted Aji and Rocoto in Peru. While in Cusco I was served a vegetarian pizza with what appeared to be red capsicum on top; it was fresh unseeded Rocoto. My mouth was burning for half an hour. And I used to grow the Peruvian Chinense in my garden in Perth.

chili collection #2:

The chilis above are described as follows, clockwise from top left: Bequinho (Brazil), Brazil, Peruvian Orange, Maraba Yellow (Peru). And that’s John’s business card in the centre.


The Habañeros above fascinated me. I had no idea there were so many varieties. Here’s their description:

Top Row: Chocolate, Yellow, Paper Lantern
Second Row: Lava Drop, New Mexican Suave Yellow, Peruvian White, White Bullet.
Third Row: Caribbean Red, Red Savina, Tasmanian Red.
Fourth Row: Costa Rica, Barbados, Standard Orange.

Out of all the Habañeros above, the Chocolate is the hottest, coming in at 450,000 SHU. The rest vary in heat down to 200,000 SHU. The New Mexico Suave is a mild 800.

I now have all these chilis spread out on trays, drying in my bedroom. I keep a respectful distance away from the Naga Morich.

Thus ends today’s chili lesson. Visit John’s website for some more information.
Posted by Kurma on 27/5/08; 5:36:24 AM

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