Pepper X Replaces The Carolina Reaper As The Hottest Chilli
Image Credit: First We Feast/YouTube

How hot is hot enough when it comes to chillies? For Ed Currie of Puckerbutt Pepper Company in South Carolina, there doesn’t seem to be any limit. His chilli  'Pepper X' has officially claimed the Guinness World Record for the world's spiciest chilli pepper, with a searing average of 2,693,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). To put this in perspective, a jalapeño, which many of us find spicy, ranges from a mere 3,000 to 8,000 SHU and our typical Indian green chillies fall around 25,000 – 100,000 SHU.

Interestingly, Ed was also the mastermind behind the previous record-holder, the Carolina Reaper, which was awarded the title of hottest chilli back in 2013 and typically averages around 1.64 million SHU. It seems like he’s been on a mission to top that record ever since and with Pepper X he’s managed to do it.

To determine Pepper X's scorching Scoville score, researchers from Winthrop University in South Carolina conducted tests over the past four years using samples of the pepper. The Scoville scale is the standard tool for gauging the spiciness of chilli peppers. It's rooted in the measurement of capsaicin, the active component in chilli peppers responsible for the fiery sensation when it touches human tissue.

Image Credits: Wikipedia

Contrary to a common misconception, the heat of a pepper doesn't come from its seeds. Instead, it's the placenta, the part that cradles the seeds, where capsaicin is concentrated. Pepper X's distinctive exterior, with its numerous curves and ridges, provides more room for the placenta to flourish.

Ed dedicated over a decade to cultivating Pepper X on his farm. He accomplished this by skillfully crossbreeding it with some of the hottest peppers available to ramp up its capsaicin content. He conducts over 100 crosses annually in the hope that he will come up with a pepper that has the high-quality traits and high capsaicin levels that he needs. The process of developing new plant species is one that takes a lot of time and dedication as it can take around 10 generations of hybrids to stabilise consistent flavours and characteristics. 

But just because he’s topped his old record, doesn’t mean Ed is ready to hang up his hat just yet. He’s already hard at work trialling new pepper hybrids that can set the world on fire again.