Spicy food fans know the name well.
The habanero. It’s a cornerstone chili – the spicy gatekeeper to the hottest peppers on the Scoville scale. But how hot is hot? How hot is a habanero pepper compared to other popular chilies? They sell them in many supermarkets, so how spicy could they really be? Let’s break that heat down.
Habanero peppers range from 100,000 to 350,000 on the Scoville scale. For comparison, a jalapeño pepper is merely 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville heat units. And another popular chili – the poblano pepper – tops off at a mere 1,500. That’s up to 140 times hotter than a mild jalapeño, if you get the hottest possible habanero.
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These are big numbers. What exactly does this magnitude of heat difference really mean?
It means you should be wearing gloves at all times when handling habanero pepper. Chili burn is bad enough at jalapeño strength; at habanero strength you are a heck of a lot closer to pepper spray level pain.
It also means eating habanero peppers raw (not diluted in sauces) will likely cause your body to react in surprising ways. Hiccups, sweating, and a burning sensation that seems to envelop your entire torso likely. Sure there are much hotter chilies out there, but habanero heat is where the truly wild world extreme chilies really begins.
Can you tone down habanero spiciness?
With any chili peppers, removing the seeds and the pepper’s membrane will lessen the spice. A lot of chili pepper heat is kept in them. Your other option, of course, is to dilute your habanero in sauces and salsas. The more diluted the chili is in a sauce or dish, the less heat you’ll feel. So start with a small amount of habanero pepper first in your cooking, and ramp it up from there.[easyazon_block add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B00BVUAPQ2″ cloaking=”default” layout=”top” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”fieryflavors-20″]
Is it ok for me to try to eat a habanero pepper if I’ve never tried anything that hot before?
We recommend being comfortable with cayenne pepper heat (30,000 – 50,000 SHU) before jumping into eating a habanero pepper. Even from here it’s a pretty big jump up the pepper scale (2 to 10 times hotter), so you won’t be comfortable to start.
That said, if you’re an adventurous eater with an iron palate, jumping right in is ok too. You’re in for a big kick, but nowhere near the heat of super-hot peppers. For those with sensitive palates, it’s recommended to stick around the mild and low-medium hot peppers, up through the serrano pepper. The habanero is likely too big of a challenge for those with sensitive tongues.