Let’s Talk Scoville Scale
The scotch bonnet pepper is a member of the habanero and is one of the spicier chilli peppers you can get. The scotch bonnet comes in at a 100,000 to 350,000 measure on the scoville heat unit scale. To put this in perspective, when we compare this to a jalapeno, it’s at least 12 to 140 times hotter!
Scotch bonnets are often used in spicy foods like Caribbean cooking (which is where it originated) and cooked in meals like jerk chicken or hot pepper sauces like the Jamaican hot pepper sauce. You’ll tend to find the scotch bonnet pepper in the Caribbean, the Maldives or Guyana.
The Origins Of The Name
The name comes from the reference to the Scottish Tam o’ Shanter hat which is what it resembles. However, the scotch bonnet is also known by many other names including things like Scotty bons, goat pepper, bonney (or booney) peppers, the Jamaican pepper, the martinique pepper, the bahama mama and the bahamian.
What Does The Scotch Bonnet Look And Taste Like?
The appearance of a scotch bonnet is quite interesting as it often appears, when matured, yellow or red. Having said that though, there are other types of scotch bonnet variety that appear brown, orange or peach.
In terms of size, it can range from 1- 2.5 inches in its length and have a diameter of between 1-2 inches. The shape resembles a habanero pepper but it’s more flat and wide which gives it its resemblance of a hat.
It’s a very flavorsome pepper, which is sweet and fruity. It’s indeed very similar to a habanero, with hints of tomato, apples and cherries.
If you’re apprehensive about the spice – slice a bit of the pepper off and slowly chew it, but not too much! If you can handle it and you like it, then you can move up to more of it.
It’s worth noting that, when preparing the scotch bonnet (or any hot chilli pepper for that matter) that you’ll want to take precautions. It’s wise to wear gloves when handling the pepper and keep them at arm’s length to avoid any juices getting into your eyes.
Additionally, you’ll want to thoroughly clean the cutting board that you’ve used with a strong detergent to prevent the capsaicin transferring over to your other utensils and plates etc.
Even the oils which are present on the outside of the pepper can become a skin irritant. If these oils get into an open wound, it can be extremely painful. To rid the oils off your skin – try using vinegar or soap.
It’s often paired with jerk dishes like chicken and pork. The flavored hints of cherries and apples or tomato that these peppers can give off are also found with various other dishes in places like Jamaica, Barbados, the Cayman Islands and Trinidad.
So, How Hot Is This Scotch Bonnet?!
Well, it’s right to say these peppers pack a punch and even though it’s not the hottest of all the chili peppers, it’s still nothing to laugh at. You may have heard of the incredibly hot ghost pepper? Well, in terms of the scoville scale, the scotch bonnet isn’t hugely behind it.
What Are Some Cooking Ideas For The Scotch Bonnet?
There are so many recipes out there for the use of a scotch bonnet pepper. Why not try your hand at these familiar favourites?
- Jamaican jerk chicken
- Jamaican curried chicken
- Scotch bonnet chilli jam
- Scotch bonnet curry sauce
- Scotch bonnet hot sauce
- Scotch bonnet soup
- Jamaican hot pepper sauce
Where Did The Scotch Bonnet Actually Come From?
Some would initially be fooled by its name of Scotch and think that would refer to Scotland – but as we’ve said, that is simply a reference to its shape. The scotch bonnet pepper actually originated in Brazil and has since bloomed into fame and can be found in many countries around the world.
It’s a pure-breed of pepper. Which basically means that it hasn’t been cross-bred or hybridized like some other peppers can be, such as the jalapeno or Carolina reaper. There are different strains though such as the Jamaican chocolate scotch bonnet pepper, famed for its appearance.
Can I Eat The Pepper?
Whether or not you can handle a scotch bonnet will depend on you and your palette. It also will depend on your own food allergies etc. Additionally, it’s probably wise not to feed a scotch bonnet to animals, children or the elderly – just in case.
There can be serious reactions for some people if they are either allergic, or cannot handle the pepper. These include:
- Severe sweating
- Burning sensations in the stomach
- Abdominal pains
If any of these reactions become apparent, it’s wise to call a professional – if this isn’t normal.
Health Properties Of Scotch Bonnet
If you can handle the heat – the scotch bonnet actually has some good health benefits. It’s filled with antioxidants which are key in gut health, packed with vitamins A, B and C, reduces sinuses blockages and can help with weight loss, fighting diseases and lowering blood pressure. Wow!