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Nov 24, 2007 08:16 AM

What is hotter than a habanero?

I bought a fresh pepper in an African store where the owner warned me over and over that it was much, much hotter than a habenero. She couldn't remember the name.

I'm not having much luck with Google. It was about the size and shape of a small Delicious apple, but most were smaller. The color was orange like a habanero. It had a skin about the thickness of a Bell pepper. Small black seeds were inside. Given the source, I would guess they are used in African cooking.

If you colored these orange, they sort of looked like this picture

FWIW, I thought it was slightly less hot than a habanero which I bought for comparison.

Anyone know what the name of this pepper might be?

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  1. According to The Whole Chile Pepper Book, Habaneros, which measure between 200,000 and 300,000 Scoville units, are the hottest chiles in the world. I'm not seeing anything in the book other than the habanero that's orange in color. But there is the chiltepin pepper, which is sort of orangey-red and shaped like an apple. It's a relative of the piquin, but much hotter. Still, not as hot as the habanero.

    17 Replies
      1. re: Athena

        According to my sources, Scotch bonnet is the name used for habaneros in the Caribbean and the Bahamas. Habanero is the Spanish name and means "Havana-like." My sources could be wrong, but I tend to trust them more than Wikipedia.

        1. re: JoanN

          No, not a Scotch bonnet. Too small, too thin skined, too wrinkled.

          1. re: JoanN

            I don't know the name but the peppers grow on the island of Marguerita off the coast of Venezuela. They look like a carrot at the size of the end of a sharpened pencil. I can eat one, cut my grass, repaint the house in 45 minutes. The flavor starts off smoky and builds gradually in about 10 minutes. You will feel the unclogging of your aorta as every poison in your system disintegrates. It's very good in soups and stews.

            1. re: JoanN

              Thanks for the clarification Joan, they're Scotch bonnets here in Bermuda, I didn't realise they were same as habaneros.

              1. re: Athena

                They AREN"T the same. They are in the smae family but are 2 different peppers.

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  The both are Chinense species. The Chileman database has 13 entries for 'scotch bonnet' and some 50 for habanero. It describes the Scotch Bonnet (without further adjectives) as: 'Very closely related to the Habanero chile, the Scotch Bonnet (or Bahamian, Bahama Mama, Jamaican Hot or Martinique Pepper) is just about as hot'

                  Describing one chile as the same as or different from another is tricky, given how readily strains hybridize and adapt to local growing conditions. In addition there are variations in local names, as illustrated by this quote.

                  The names suggest that the Scotch Bonnet originates (or at least was first named) on the English speaking islands of the Caribbean, while Habanero on Spanish speaking Cuba.


                  1. re: paulj

                    Actually... the Habanero originated to the Yucatan and spread to the Caribbean about 3,000 years ago when the first pre-Mayan inhabitants of the Yucatan made the 90 mile trip to Western Cuba.... the Scotch Bonnet later changed a little bit in the Eastern & Southern Carribbean.... the English name is somewhat irrelevant as it existed prior to any English speaking inhabitants. As you noted both are cultivars of the misnamed Capsicum Chinense. Similarly the name Habanero is just due to the Spanish (typicallly) sloppy codification.

                    Wikipedia has a decent article on the 4 major species of Chiles (and lists some of their cultivars):


                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                      Well, if we are going to trace its origins, shouldn't we go further south to Peru or Bolivia? :)
                      "The oldest known specimen ever found was a single intact pod, probably a wild form, that was discovered in the Pre-ceramic levels (6,500 B.C.) in Guitarrero Cave in coastal Peru. Capsicum chinense remains the least understood of the domesticated taxa with respect to center of origin and its probable progenitor."

                      Or Brazil according to this page:

                      But putting aside the debate over point of origin, what is the distinction between habaneros and Scotch bonnets? One tradewindsfruit entry mentions some sort of ridge down the middle of SB.


                      1. re: paulj

                        Here's a page by Dave DeWitt (author of the 'The Chile Pepper Encyclopedia'), discussing the nomenclature of Hananero, including the question of origin (Yucatan v Cuba v S America).
                        There's the curious claim that there is no Mayan name for this pepper (ref Laborde & Pozo 1982). At least one writer claims the habanero moved from the West Indies (having come from Venezuela) to Yucatan.

                        This species has a wide variety of pod shapes. A crude generalization is that the 'typical' habanero (Yucatan grown) is lantern shaped, while the Scotch Bonnet (Caribbean style) has a characteristic tam or bonnet.

                        More on the Scotch Bonnet with emphasis on its Jamacian roots.


            2. re: Athena

              Same family different variety. I grow them all the time and use them. They are wonderful IN moderation. I use them finely diced or added whole in stews and then removed. They are great flavor. But be careful, even handling them. Both habeneros and bonnets are similar in flavor and heat ... but check out this web page. Tells you all you want to know.


            3. re: JoanN

              I've seen the Scotch Bonnet (not sure if it IS different than the Habanero) and a Thai Chili (name eludes me now) listed at 400,000 - 500,000 Scoville Units. However, your reference would be the one that I'd head to, so maybe it's my memory that needs a few Scoville Units to recharge it.


              1. re: Bill Hunt

                Interesting. As I said, my book has the habanero at 200,000 to 300,000 and the thai at up to 100,000. I'm sure varieties differ considerably. But however many units, I think we can agree it's *hot.*

                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the hottest pepper is the Bhut Jolokia from India at a little over 1 MILLION scoville units. (putting my pinky at the corner of my mouth a la Dr. Evil for effect)

                  1. re: LabRat

                    There are some hilarious and strange YouTube videos of people eating Bhut Jolokia.

                    1. re: LabRat

                      Actually the Bhut Jolokia passed up the Red Savina on the Scoville scale as recently as 2007.

                      1. re: LabRat

                        Another good wiki. Refers to Guiness testing top contenders:


                  2. Your description matches the (aji) rocoto, also called Manzano due to its apple shape
                    Look at the Peruvian example near the bottom of the page. The black seeds are distinctive. Color, shape, size, thick flesh also match.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: paulj

                      I think you've got it, paulj. (Great Web site, by the way. Thanks for the link.) My book shows them as red, but says they can also be orange and yellow with the yellow predominant. And the black seeds are the giveaway. They're hot, but not as hot as habaneros. Evidently, the heat scale has never been tested scientifically, but on a scale of 1 to 10, my book is giving it an 8 or 9.

                      1. re: paulj

                        Thanks. That looks very much like it. Next time I'm in the store I'll drop some of those names and see if the owner recognizes them.

                        She had so freaked me out about the heat that I went into overdrive so I didn't leave a spec of extreme heat lurking ... I've had some unpleasant encounters with habeneros this past year ... that I got rid of the seeds. Since that link says they are pungent, that might be where the extra heat was.

                        Pretty flower on that pepper.

                        1. re: rworange

                          fyi, the rib [the white membrane inside the pepper] can often contain even more heat than the seeds. i think that's where a lot of people trip up...

                          1. re: rworange

                            In addition to Manzano... the Rocoto is also known as Peron in Mexico. Peron roughly translates to Great Pear.

                          2. re: paulj

                            Weather your specific pepper was or was not hotter than a certain habanero is a hard call to make.

                            I will say that the Rocoto that I ate in southern peru was the spiciest darn thing I ever did eat, and I LOVE spicy food and will toss habaneros into everything.

                            DIED from the rocoto

                            1. re: dagoose

                              I find that once it gets above about 100,000 Scoville Units, I cannot tell much difference, as my mouth and nose just do not work anymore. I'd guess that most of this work needs to be done with gas spectrometers, or similar. Once the pain threshold has been exceeded, the measurements are moot to me.


                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                My reference book, which hasn't been entirely reliable so far, says that heat scale ratings are determined with high-pressure liquid chromotography. Whatever that means.

                                1. re: JoanN

                                  Nor do I. So long as no lab assistants were injured in the process, I guess that it's OK. [Grin]


                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                    Scoville's original method was to dilute pepper extract in sugar water which was then given to a panel of (hopefully) volunteers. The dilution at which the heat was no longer detectable was the scoville score for that particular pepper. So yes, lab assistants may have been injured in the process.

                              1. re: paulj

                                The chile manzano is among the most popular here in the Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, Mexico area.

                              2. I thought I had read recently of a new high, over a million scoville units, I found this on
                                "Weighing in at 1,001,304 Scoville heat units, the Bhut Jolokia chili from India has been named the world's hottest pepper by the Guinness Book of World Records."

                                The last comment in the story is from a 13 yr old boy who has tried one.

                                I remember my first trip to LA, when I would go to Barney's Beanery and they always had a pitcher of jalapeno peppers on the tables to promote beer sales. Imagine a pitcher of these. They'd sell a lot of beer.

                                1. I wish I remebered when it was written but, the New York Times Magazine had a lengthy article on the world's peppers, their flavors, their origins and, their heat. I believe there were a few that were hotter than Habaneros but perhaps not commonly available. I've been using the NYT archives a lot recently so I'll try to locate this particular piece.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: vonwotan

                                    there was a lot of press about this earlier in the year...the hottest pepper in the world is the "bhut jolokia" from india.

                                    it clocks in at over 1 million[!] scoville units.


                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      Before they discovered the Indian chile pepper, the hottest was from Africa, it was called Red something. It was a half million Scovilles. Maybe that's what you have?

                                      1. re: coll

                                        I think you're thinking of Red Savina. If so, that's actually a variety of habañero bred for extra heat. It is up around half a million Scoville units, but it's not African, it's an American creation.

                                  2. The Bhut Jolokia is now officially the world's hottest chili pepper. A recent development.

                                    I do not think you can find them in the US, but I might be wrong ...

                                    3 Replies
                                      1. re: C. Hamster

                                        A friend of mine from Nagaland brought me a bag of dried ones. Quite good, quite hot.

                                        I do recall seeing somewhere here in the US that sold them, but it looked like they were growing them here. That's not going to have the same heat/flavor profile of ones natively grown over there.