Chile peppers aren’t just beautiful berries hiding often-painful secrets, the pleasure they produce leads people into extremes…
“The Most Pungent Pepper”
There is something of a cryptobotanical character to the quest for “the hottest” pepper (and even, in a way, to the hunt for the hottest chile sauce).
For one, even “the hottest” varieties will show quite some variation, depending on their growing conditions. “Red Savina” was long the hottest (habanero) chile pepper, but Chocolate Habanero-types commonly got more pungent.
Add to this that the procedure necessary to measure exact pungency is quite complicated (and can therefore be costly); not to mention that absolute pungency and pungency perceived by a human can be different.
Most importantly, in this author’s opinion: The absolute value is pretty irrelevant. Above some 300,000 Scoville units, a pepper is only good for masochists or fire-eaters, the record just a value put on paper. The richness of flavors gets drowned by the pain…
Unfortunately, varieties/pod types can suffer the fate of becoming rather mythical creatures… case in point: Scotch Bonnet.
Most of the plants/pods/seeds sold with that moniker produce/are some kind of “mushroom”-pod type/shape, but not the shape of a Scotch Bonnet.
Dr. Bosland, upon inquiring, pointed out that looking for “Scotch Bonnet” would be like looking for “green peppers” in most places; there are problems with how sensible the classification into pod types is… – and yet, not being able to find a chile pepper that produces pods like those which Jean Andrews, for example, used to illustrate “Scotch Bonnet” in her book “Peppers” is rather disappointing.