In 1989, with the help of Dr. Ben Villalon of the Texas A&M Agricultural Experiment Station and Dr. Paul W. Bosland of New Mexico State University’s Department of Plant and Environmental Science, I compiled and published the first chile heat scale in Chile Pepper magazine. The heat scale proved to be enormously popular and was reprinted (sometimes with credit!) in hundreds of newspapers, magazines, books, Web sites, and catalogs.
Fiery Foods Official Heat Scale
Chile Varieties and Commercial Products
Habanero, Scotch Bonnet, South American chinenses, African birdseye
Santaka, Chiltepin, Rocoto, Chinese kwangsi
Piquin, Cayenne Long, Tabasco, Thai prik khee nu, Pakistan dundicut
de Arbol; crushed red pepper; habanero hot sauce
Early Jalapeño, Aj Amarillo, Serrano; Tabasco ® Sauce
TAM Mild Jalapeño, Mirasol; Cayenne Large Red Thick; Louisiana hot sauce
Sandia, Cascabel, Yellow Wax Hot
Ancho, Pasilla, Española Improved; Old Bay Seasoning
NuMex Big Jim, NuMex 6-4, chili powder
NuMex R-Naky, Mexi-Bell, Cherry; canned green chiles, Hungarian hot paprika
Mild Bells, Pimiento, Sweet Banana, U.S. paprika
Despite the accuracy of HPLC testing, we should remember, as Dr. Villalon points out, “Capsaicin can and is quantitatively measured by high performance liquid chromatography, to exactness for that particular pod, that particular plant, that particular location, and that particular season only.” Thus, chiles will often deviate from published heat levels because of local environmental conditions. As there are many factors affecting the pungency of any variety, and there are many varieties within the various species and pod types, the measurements listed below are necessarily approximate.