pepper heads for life

trinidad scorpion shu

Scoville Heat Rating : 1,463,700 SHU

In June 2011, the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T Pepper beat out its competition from India and Southern England as the hottest pepper in the World. It was made official in the Guinness Book of World Records for the amount of Capsaicin present in a food. For the purposes of comparison, a typical Habenero peppers has a rating of 100,000-350,000 SHU and a Jalapeno pepper is rated at 3,500-8,000. That makes the Butch T a very HOT pepper!

Cooking and Processing

According to reports, making salsa or hot sauce out of this pepper involves workers wearing gloves and breathing masks. The irritant contained within the pepper can leave a burning sensation on the skin for up to two days. Youtube has some fairly entertaining videos of gutzy volunteers trying to devour the pepper raw without pulling a face. The person manning the censorship button was kept quite busy during the making of this flicks.

Processing chili peppers for use in hot sauces involves heating fresh peppers until the skin blisters and can be easily removed. Seeds are extracted from the fruit and are dried for use in growing a new crop. Once the pepper has been peeled, the meat can be used immediately or frozen for a period of up to 12 months.


Who is Butch?

The Trinidad Scorpion may be a misnomer for this pepper since the seeds for this pepper came from Australia and the award winning pepper was also grown on this Pacific Island Continent. Although the shape of this pepper may seem to some to be indicating its name, the Butch T is actually named after the man who harvested and circulated its seeds. It is typical for Chili Pepper enthusiasts to share seeds with other enthusiasts and label the packets with their first name and last initial. “Butch T” peppers have pointed ends and a very fat top making them look somewhat like a “T” when they are held upside down.



Growing and harvesting Chili Peppers for use in hot sauces and salsas is a serious business. The scientific community has taken interest in the genetic engineering of seeds that grow the peppers. In 1992, the Chili Pepper Institute was founded in Las Cruces, New Mexico to offer educational programs for pepper growers and processors. The CPI holds an annual Chili Conference on the campus of the New Mexico State University. The CPI has become a tourist attraction. The fields where the chilies are grown are open for visitors and resources are abundant. The CPI website is available and manned by knowledgeable staff that will answer your chili related questions.

Photo credit: Shane’s Stuff / Foter / CC BY-SA