Lovers of extreme hot food – you have been warned! If you thought the notorious Komodo Dragon – a chilli pepper launched last year by Tesco - was hot stuff then just wait till you try the Carolina Reaper which goes on sale at the supermarket tomorrow. It's officially the hottest chilli pepper in the world according to the Guinness Book Of Records, measuring an average 1.5 million Scoville units.
However another independent test is reported to have recorded the heat level of the Carolina Reaper – which is being commercially grown in Bedfordshire - at an incredible, mouth numbing 2.2 million Scovilles. To give some idea of the phenomenal heat – it is about more than 400 times hotter than a jalapeno, the chilli pepper commonly used on spicy take away or supermarket made pizzas.
Tesco chilli pepper buyer Phoebe Burgess said: "The Carolina Reaper is absolute meltdown material – it's one for absolute hot food connoisseurs. Despite it being astonishingly hot it also has a wonderful fruity taste. Only a sliver is needed to add exciting flavour to your favourite curry. Last year the Komodo Dragon became our most popular chilli pepper ever and since then we've been inundated with requests from customers to see if we could go one better and thanks to the fantastic growing skills of our chilli producer we've done that.”
The Carolina Reaper is being grown by the UK's largest producer of chilli peppers, Salvatore Genovese whose seven acre farm is based in Blunham, Bedfordshire. Salv, as he is known , only started growing chilli peppers 15 years ago after he took over his parents' cucumber business. Since then chilli peppers have become so popular that Salv now grows about one million, or 15 tonnes, each week just to satisfy UK demand.
Salv said: “Chilli pepper culture has become very popular in the UK over the last five years and on the back of the acclaim I've received from supplying Tesco I now get requests from all over the world. The fantastic success of the Komodo Dragon proved that Brits are among the world's greatest lovers of chilli peppers. But I wonder if the Carolina Reaper will test British palates just a touch too much?”
Tesco has become well known for its top of the heat range chilli peppers and over the last few years has stocked the Trinidad Scorpion, Bhut Jolokia and Bedfordshire Super Naga. The Carolina Reaper will be on sale in more than 130 Tesco stores across the UK and will cost £1 for a packet containing two to three chilli peppers.