Ghost Pepper (Bhut Jolokia) – All About Them
SCOVILLE HEAT UNITS: 855,000 – 1,041,427 SHU
The ghost pepper (aka the Bhut Jolokia) is one of the hottest pepper in the world, topping over 1 Million Scoville Heat Units.
It was awarded the distinction of the World’s Hottest of All Spices by the Guinness World Records in 2006, topping the Red Savina Habanero, though was eventually toppled several times over.
The word “bhut” means “ghost”, given from the Bhutias people, possibly because the heat sneaks up on you like a ghost.
It has been around for generations, though only cultivated in the western world at the turn of the century.
Ripe peppers measure 2.5 to 3.3 inches long with a red, yellow, orange, white, purple or chocolate color.
Taste and Heat
The first flavor you will notice is an intense sweet chili flavor, the heat does not kick in for 30 – 45 seconds. Once the heat kicks in, expect sweating, watery eyes, hiccups and shortness of breath. The burning generally intensifies over 10 – 15 minutes and subsides after 30 – 40 minutes.
The current record holder for the hottest pepper in the world is the Carolina Reaper.
How Hot is the Ghost Pepper, or Bhut Jolokia?
The Bhut Jolokia (aka Ghost Pepper) measures in at 1,000,000 + Scoville Heat Units. It offers up some intense heat.
Yep, these babies were officially the hottest peppers around, topping the Red Savina Habanero. It was awarded the distinction of World’s Hottest of All Spices by the Guinness World Records in 2006, though was eventually toppled several times over.
The hottest ghost pepper is 416 times hotter than the mildest jalapeno pepper, and about 208 times hotter than the average jalapeno pepper. Quite hot!
For comparison, a bell pepper has Zero Scoville Heat Units. Learn more about the Scoville Scale here.
Bhut Jolokia / Ghost Pepper Uses
Use them as you’d use a habanero, but remember that they are much hotter, up to 5 times the heat level. Use caution when cooking with them. Wear gloves and protect your eyes.
The pepper belongs to the Capsicum chinense family, like the Habanero, Scotch Bonnet and Red Savina. They originate in Northern India.
It is also known as Naga Jolokia, Bhut Jolokia, Bih jolokia, Nagahari, Raja Mircha, Raja chilli, Borbih jolokiai or Ghost Chili.
Note: “Naga” mean “Cobra Snake” in Sanskrit.
History of the Bhut Jolokia (Ghost Pepper)
The ghost pepper has been in the running for the hottest pepper in the world for some time now – in fact, it actually held the Guinness Book of World Record’s record for the world’s hottest pepper from 2007 until 2010.
The bhut jolokia is a naturally growing pepper that can be found primarily in northeastern India and neighboring Bangladesh.
However, species can also be found in Sri Lanka occasionally. Due to the fact that “bhut” means “ghost” in the Assam language, this pepper is often called the “ghost pepper,” in the Western world. These peppers have dented skin that is very thin and easy to tear.
Bits of Interest
This hot pepper also has side use in Indian cooking. In addition to being a common household ingredient in certain parts of India and Bangledesh, it has also been used as a homeopathic remedy for stomach pain, a way to beat the summer heat (when the bhut jolokia is eaten, the partaker will usually start to sweat quite a bit, which will ultimately lead to a decrease in body temperature).
It has even been used as a weapon – locals of northeastern India smear their fences with it to keep elephants away, and the pepper has even been used in smoke bombs!
Can Eating Ghost Peppers Kill You?
Eating extremely hot chili peppers in large enough amounts can harm you.
According to Dr. Paul Bosland of the Chile Pepper Institute, if you ate a large amount in a short period of time, it could kill you.
He said, “A research study in 1980 calculated that 3 pounds of extreme chilies in powder form — of something like the bhut jolokia — eaten all at once could kill a 150-pound person,” Bosland, told Live Science. “However, one’s body would react sooner and not allow it to happen.”
Potential results could be seizures, heart attacks, and even death.
That said, eating them in moderation can be good for you, as chili peppers offer all sorts of health benefits.
I eat them all the time and love them. See my ghost pepper recipes link below.
Growing Ghost Peppers
Growing these peppers can be difficult, as ghost peppers like more humidity and heat. They are native to India and that particular climate, so grow best in those conditions.
I’ve been able to grow them in my own home garden in Zone 5 with good success. The peppers grow to a good size and have great heat to them.
You might consider growing them in a greenhouse where you can control temperature and humidity more directly.
Plant them 18-24 inches apart. They prefer warm soil and full sun.
The seeds typically germinate around 35 days and mature 100 days after planting.
Plants grow from 24-48 inches in height.
The fruit of the bhut jolokia measure 2-3 inches long.
How Much Does a Ghost Pepper Weigh?
An average sized pepper is about 1/3 ounce, so be sure to plan your recipes accordingly.
Handle Ghost Peppers with Caution
When working with any super hot peppers, it is important to wear gloves when handling the peppers both in raw and dried forms. The oils can get on your skin and cause burning sensations.
Need help? How to Stop the Chili Pepper Burn On Your Skin.
Also, the fumes from the chili peppers and/or the fine powders may get into the air if you are not working in a well ventilated room, so you may want to wear a mask and goggles. Superhot chili peppers, truly, are called superhots for a reason.
Ghost Pepper Recipes
I love cooking with ghost peppers and have a number of spicy foods recipes to share with you. Here is a list of recipes:
- Ghost Pepper Jelly
- Ghost Pepper Salsa
- Fresh Ghost Pepper Salsa
- Sweet and Spicy Ghost Pepper Candied Bacon
- Sweet Ghost Pepper-Pineapple-Pear Hot Sauce
- Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce
- Ghost Pepper Chicken Curry
- Ghost Pepper Chicken Wings
- Pineapple-Mango Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce
- Roasted Ghost Pepper Sauce
- Homemade Ghost Pepper Chili Hot Sauce
- Ghost Pepper Remoulade
- Homemade Ghost Pepper Chili Powder
- Homemade Chili Powders
- Homemade Ghost Pepper Chips
Learn More About Superhot Chili Peppers
- Chili Pepper Types – Here is a list of chili peppers
- What is the Hottest Chili Pepper in the World?
- A List of the Hottest Chili Peppers in the World
- Carolina Reaper
- Brain Strain Peppers
- Trinidad Scorpion Butch T