2022-04-22 . Knowledge

We tell you all about the Scoville Scale and our chilies

We tell you all about the Scoville Scale and our chilies

Invented in 1912 by pharmacologist Wilbur Scoville, the Scoville scale measures the strength of chillies by their content of capsaicin, a chemical compound in the alkaloid family. In order to rank chillies, Scoville prepared a solution of freshly pureed chillies and mixed it with sugar water. This diluted solution was tested by five people. As long as the sensation of spiciness remained, he increased the dilution with water. The score on the scale represents the level of dilution needed to completely eliminate the pungent sensation. More concretely, 1 gram of chilli whose pungency is detectable in 550 litres of water will score at 550,000 on the Scoville scale.

The Scoville scale ranges from 0 to 200,000 (for the Carolina Reaper pepper, which has been the world's hottest pepper since 2013). For greater readability, it is common to group these Scoville units by bracket to offer a rating from 0 to 10 (0 being the bell pepper and 10 being the chilies described as explosive). For each rating, a qualifying adjective from mild to explosive with intermediate levels like strong or volcanic...

Each individual has his or her own resistance to the spiciness of chillies, which also depends on his or her environment and education (habit of eating spicy food in certain regions of the world). The dilution test is therefore somewhat subjective. It has now been replaced by laboratory analysis and dosage tests to measure the chemical compound capsaicin.

Capsaicin is an irritant molecule responsible for the pungent effect of chillies. Indeed, it is an irritant of the epithelium of mammalian cells. Biologically, this ability allows the fruits and seeds of the plants that produce them to defend themselves against predators. Moreover, only mammals are sensitive to this burning effect, so birds can disperse the seeds without inconvenience.

Caution: capsaicin is not soluble in water. If your mouth is on fire after eating a hot chili, do not drink water to relieve the burning sensation. However, as it is fat-soluble, milk or a piece of bread with olive oil may be more effective.

Are chillies good for your health?

Various studies have shown the health benefits of eating chillies. Capsaicin is said to improve blood circulation and also to have antimicrobial, analgesic and anticancer properties. But consume in moderation for your stomach and liver!

graphic about chilies spiciness

The Scoville scale at La Plantation

Don't panic, at La Plantation, our peppers only reach the orange level (30,000 to 60,000 for our Bird Chilies) on the Scoville scale. At the level below, the yellow level, you will find our White Chili. And that's not forgetting our Kampot Peppers, which also develop a slight spiciness! At the very bottom is the green level, and we find our Sweet Long Chili, ideal for those who do not like spiciness!

Spice in Khmer culture

Khmer cuisine is relatively spicy when compared to its Thai and Vietnamese neighbours. Cultivated chillies remain mild and are used sparingly, often placed in a bowl next to the dishes. This way, everyone can determine the quantity to be added to their plate, depending on their degree of resistance to spiciness. We have chosen to grow the Bird Chilli, our strongest and rarest chilli. As it is no longer cultivated in the region, we harvested our first seeds from wild plants in the nearby forests. This Bird Chilli, although hot, develops aromatic chocolatey notes. A must-taste in its original or smoked version.

La Plantation chilies assortment

Smoked chillies?

We have developed a smoking process with our two varieties of chillies: the Bird Chili (caliente) and the Sweet Long Chili (very mild). The ancient smoking technique is perfectly suited to accentuate the hot flavours of our chillies, and add that characteristic smoky aroma. 

Just as quickly conceived, just as quickly done: you can now discover our two smoked varieties: the Smoked Red Bird Pepper and the Smoked Long Sweet Pepper.

Our latest innovation: the Crushed Chilli Trio

Ready to use, if you want to try our whole range of hot peppers in one, you'll love it! Our Crushed Chilli Trio can be sprinkled directly onto your dishes, or added to a marinade. If you're a bit crazy, why not combine it with chocolate desserts? Otherwise, it goes wonderfully with eggs, for a spicy breakfast, to spice up crab or tomato pasta or to sprinkle on a goat cheese or avocado toast.

La Plantation range of sauces

From Farm to Fork: Hot Sauces 

Such a wide variety of chillies and spices, as well as the fresh fruits found in our botanical gardens, inspired us to concoct a ready-to-use chilli seasoning! Prepared in Kampot, our Spicy Sauces will surprise you and add heat to your dishes all year round. The hottest are Pineapple and Mango Spicy, followed by our Smoked Chilli, then Khmer Masala, and finally our Tamarind BBQ Sauce.

They can be used as a powerful condiment, for those who like a thrill, or as a seasoning (mixed with mayonnaise, vinaigrette), in a marinade, with fresh cheese or more surprisingly in a Bloody Mary cocktail (Smoked Chilli and Tamarind BBQ Sauce).

green pepper sauce

And if you still don't like spicy

No problem, we've also launched a range of Mild but Spicy Sauces. Our first creation, the Fresh Green Pepper Sauce, has already won a Best Of medal at the Gourmet Selection! It has the unique taste of fresh Green Pepper as found in Cambodia and is therefore only produced during the harvest in limited quantities. The other sweet sauces will be available in the spring. To be continued...

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