Fiery Chilies

Today there are probably 400 different chillies grown from the Far East, China, Japan, Thailand and Indonesia to India to Mexico. The types of chillies used in WORLDFOODS' products include the normal finger-length red or green chilli, fiery bird's-eye chilli and dried chillies. Many of WORLDFOODS' products contain chillies but at varying intensities. The different heat levels are as indicated on the front panel of the label.

The common misconception about chillies is that they are fiery hot. Chillies come in many shapes, sizes and colours ranging from tiny and extremely hot bird's-eye chilli to the large and mild bell peppers. The colour of chillies is no guide to the intensity of their flavour. Nor is the size.

Chili Antidotes
The heat of chillies comes from the oil called capsaicin which is found mostly in the interior veins or ribs and seeds which when removed makes the chilli milder. As capsaicin is insoluble in water, drinking water does not help reduce the burning sensation but instead, will distribute capsaicin to more parts of the mouth, spreading the burning sensation. Fat will do the trick - milk, ice cream, yoghurt, or peanut butter will work better. Alternatively, eating some rice or bread will absorb the capsaicin and bring some relief.

Addicted to Chilies?
Capsaicin is a potent chemical that survives both cooking and freezing, but apart from the burning sensation it also triggers the brain to produce endorphins, natural painkillers that create a temporary feeling of euphoria. Hot and spicy food lovers soon begin to crave this feeling and are hooked! Some people believe this is what makes chillies mildly addictive and for some, an obsession.

Measuring Chili Heat
In 1902, a German scientist Wilbur Scoville, developed a method for measuring the 'heat' in chillies which originally meant tasting a diluted version of a pepper and giving it a value. This index was called the Scoville Units and is still used today with the help of computers to rate the peppers more accurately. A more modern version used by many chilli writers is called 'The Official Chilli Pepper Heat Scale' with a rating of zero to ten. Bell peppers rate a zero because they contain no capsaicin and Thai bird's eye chilli score a rate of 9.