Specialist plant grower Mike Smith, from Wales, never set out to grow the world’s hottest chilli. Instead, he was working with the University of Nottingham on growing high strength chillies for research into anaesthetic alternatives.
Smith, who admits to not even liking spicy food that much, was actually trying to grow an aesthetically pleasing chilli to enter into the UK’s prestigious Chelsea Flower Show’s Plant of the Year competition. This is only his second year of entering.
But when the scientists measured just how hot the chilli was, they were shocked. Up until last week the hottest chilli in the world was the Carolina Reaper, which reportedly measures in at a staggering 2.2 million Scovilles. Smith’s chilli, now named Dragon’s Breath in honour of its Welsh heritage, came in at an eye-watering, throat-burning, stomach-churning 2.48 million Scovilles. To put that into further context, pepper spray used by law enforcement is around the two million mark.
If you want to see the dangers of eating really hot chillies, watch what happens to Lizzy Wurst and her friend Sabrina Stewart when they tried a reaper [warning, there’s some strong language].
The Scoville scale is used to measure the levels of capsaicin, the substance that gives chilli peppers their heat. A bell or red pepper for instance measures zero on the scale, while a Scotch bonnet, often used in West Indian cookery, measures between 100,000 to 350,000 scovilles.
The chilli is so intense that at the time of writing no one has actually eaten it. Of his fiery creation, Smith said: ‘I’ve tried it on the tip of my tongue and it just burned and burned. Someone else said they had bit it fully, and their mouth was numb for two days. It is edible, but I wouldn’t recommend eating it on its own.’
Indeed, the University has cautioned that the Dragon’s Breath is so powerful it could cause anaphylactic shock, burning the eaters’ airways from the inside – you have been warned.