Scotch Bonnet Peppers - How Hot Are They?
Though rather small and seemingly innocent, Scotch Bonnet peppers are some of the hottest peppers on Earth. This variety of chili pepper has many other names, including Scotty Bons and Bonney Peppers, but Scotch Bonnet is the most commonly used term. Although frequently confused with habaneros, Scotch Bonnets are a distinct species, separate from their similarly spicy cousin. Scotch Bonnets are native to, and most commonly grown in, the Caribbean islands, but these spicy little peppers can be cultivated elsewhere. The term Scotch Bonnet is a reference to the shape of the pepper, which bears a resemblance to the Scottish Tam O'Shanter hat. Like most peppers, ripe Scotch Bonnets start out green and gradually transition to orange, red, and eventually a deep scarlet color. Peppers are consumed at any of these stages of ripeness.
Given their Caribbean growing location, Scotch Bonnets are frequently used in island cuisine. The characteristic Caribbean island flavoring, jerk, which is used to flavor chicken, seafood, and many other dishes, is dependent on the heat and unique taste of this pepper. With a heat rating of 100,000-350,000 Scoville units, a small addition of this hot pepper goes a long way. To put that rating in perspective, most jalapenos rate between 3,000 and 8,000 on the Scoville scale. The heat from these very spicy peppers can irritate the skin, so gloves are recommended during preparation. Scotch Bonnets are prepared for consumption by scraping the seeds from the insides and chopping the flesh to add to dishes. It is believed that removing the seeds helps cut down on some of the heat. Seeds are either thrown away or saved for cultivation. Scotch Bonnets are also frequently used for homemade pepper sauce, which is a common condiment in the Caribbean. Pepper sauce is added to dishes in much the same way soy sauce is added to East Asian meals.
Scotch Bonnet peppers pack a powerful punch in terms of heat and flavor. This great combination makes them the perfect ingredient for commercial hot sauces. Scotch Bonnet hot sauce can be found in many grocery stores, as well as specialty stores that sell gourmet ingredients. For a pure pepper flavor, Dave's Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce provides the unique and spicy flavor necessary for jerk recipes. This surprisingly medium-spiced hot sauce is also perfect for everyday use. Varieties such as Melinda's Scotch Bonnet hot sauce combine the fiery pepper with papaya, carrots, and lime to deliver a spicy sweet flavor. Sweet Scotch Bonnet hot sauces, such as this, are perfect for adding Caribbean flavor to fish, chicken, and salsas. Scotch Bonnets may also be combined with other hot peppers to create unique hot sauce blends that can be used in many dishes. The list of ingredients for any hot sauce will indicate if the heated Scotch Bonnet is included.
While it can be intimidating to consume a pepper that is 100,000's of times hotter than jalapenos, Scotch Bonnets provide a spicy and delicious flavor that cannot be found anywhere else. People who fear preparing fresh peppers and potentially ruining a dish with too much heat may choose to purchase a Scotch Bonnet hot sauce, which can be added to food as desired. This is a great and easy way to try out the flavor of this delicious pepper.