Dave's Fiery Front Page
Exploring the World of Spice and Smoke
Tags >> Capsaicin
Posted by: Lois Manno
on Jul 14, 2011
Q: I heard about some guy who has developed a jalapeño pepper with no heat. Why would anybody do that?
A: Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Some manufacturers of hot products prefer to use heatless chile varieties and add heat later during processing through the addition of concentrated capsaicin oleoresin. This provides a measurable, more consistent heat level throughout the product run.
Read more on the Burn! Blog here.
Posted by: Dave DeWitt
on May 25, 2011
James Beck of EatMoreHeat.com is my first guest on the new weekly feature of the SuperSite, and he discusses eating superhot chiles and finishing an Apocalypse Burger. Upcoming guests are Dave Hirschkop who invented Insanity Sauce; chemical engineer Marlin Bensinger, who tests the superhot chiles in his own lab; Jim Garcia of El Pinto Salsa, discussing Scorpion Salsa and the purported "chile crisis;" and Chris Fowler, who uses a polytunnel to grow chillis near Cardiff, Wales. To hear James on the first podcast, go here.
Posted by: Kelli Bergthold
on Apr 29, 2011
The much sought after cure for cancer could be heating up. Recent findings from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center suggests that capsaicin, the active chemical compound that gives chile peppers their heat, may reduce and even block chronic inflammation pathways in cancer cells.
In an article posted on MD Anderson’s blog, professor in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Dr. Bharat Aggarwal, Ph.D., points out that, "Symptoms common in cancer patients, such as depression, fatigue, neuropathic pain, metastases and tumor growth, are due to inflammation. By using capsaicin, we can inhibit these things."
While capsaicin has long been linked to boosting metabolism, lowering the risk of ulcers, and reducing muscle pain and inflammation, scientists say its cancer-curing potential has yet to be fully tapped. One problem holding scientists back?
"Chiles are a double-edged sword -- a little bit is good, but too much is bad," Aggarwal says. "Many people's stomachs can't handle red chile."
In a recent Phase III placebo-controlled trial at the Geisinger Clinical Oncology Program in Danville, Pa., many patients experienced discomfort with a topical capsaicin ointment. And while patients in the trial preferred the capsaicin to the placebo as a pain-reliever, the extreme heat of most pepper varieties may prove too hot to handle – for now, at least.
Read the full article from the MD Anderson Cancer Center here.
on Feb 26, 2011
Above is the press release about our ongoing attempt at the Guinness World Record for what they call "Hottest Chili." We missed it by that much, but never fear, we'll be back! Read the entire story here.
Posted by: Kelli Bergthold
on Jan 31, 2011
Last week, a judge at the Fiery Foods Challenge, a spicy food contest held in conjunction with Texas-based festival, ZestFest 2011, was hospitalized after sampling an entry. The blind entry in the hot sauce category was described as a “nightmare in a bottle” by another of the contest judges. Speculators have suggested the sauce may have contained the extract capsaicin, the chemical that gives chile peppers their heat.
“Our best wishes for a swift recovery go out to the judge injured in the Fiery Foods Challenge this week,” said Dave DeWitt, owner and producer of the Fiery Foods and Barbecue Show in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Safety is the most important thing when testing fiery foods. Chemical additives such as capsaicin only increase the necessity for proper precautions.”
“At the Fiery Foods Show, exhibitors are required to have warning signage at their booths and to taste only on the end of toothpicks,” said DeWitt.
In addition to producing the Fiery Foods Show—the largest hot foods trade show in the country, DeWitt also hosts the annual Scovie Awards, a contest that judges the best food products in the hot foods industry. Judges who participate in the superhot category of the Scovies (including products containing the capsaicin extract) are required to sign a waiver before the contest and to test products separately, overseen at all times by a designated monitor.
Judges at the Scovies are provided with several different, thick coolants, such as yogurt and ice cream—the same cooling agents that members of the public should use when tasting fiery foods. Dairy and alcohol products are particularly effective in counteracting the heat associated with chile peppers; capsaicin dissolves in the fats contained in dairy. Water is a relatively useless cooling agent. Other methods used to combat the heat from peppers include tasting small samples in order to gauge heat levels, and building a tolerance to heat over time before tackling superhots.
With the proper precautions, the general public can avoid overexposure to the “fire” in fiery foods and enjoy the spice of life.
Check out this video from Dave DeWitt on how to avoid chile pepper burnout!
Posted by: Dave DeWitt
on Dec 10, 2010
We wanted to make sure that everyone understands the position of University of Warwick regarding testing of the Naga Viper. Peter Dunn, head of communications, just sent us this statement:
The University of Warwick School of Life Sciences has been asked by a number of growers to test Chillies to ascertain their heat level on the Scoville Scale. Each of those tests has been done as a commercial service to those clients and the University has not publicized or press released any of the results.
One of those clients recently asked us to test a Chilli they described as a "Naga Viper". We completed the test and gave the results to the client. We have since seen a number of media publish those results under headlines that this indicates that the tested Chilli is the hottest in the world.
We also understand from news reports that there has been some interest in having this published as a fact in the Guinness Book of Records.
While we cannot release our full report on this Chilli without the commercial client's express permission, we can say that we feel that any result obtained from the Chilli sample that was tested by us should be viewed as only a good indicator that this Chilli could meet the conditions of entry into the Guinness Book of Records. The sample provided to us was relatively small and, while we do not know explicitly what the Guinness Book of Records testing requirements would be, we would expect that they would require at least one more test with a larger sample and possibly a corroborating test in another lab.
Posted by: Kelli Bergthold
on Nov 06, 2010
|The Burglar Blaster security system
Ever wish you had a more appropriate way than an ADT Home Security system to safeguard your hot sauce collection? Imagine if a burglar snuck into your house, tripped the alarm system, and was sprayed with a fiery blast of pepper spray? Now that’s poetic justice. The Burglar Blaster is a “self contained electronic pepper spray anti-burglary system” that’s easy to install. The unit is housed in a cast aluminum/alloy case and lasts up to four years on a set of batteries. That means that even if the power goes out on your block, your hot sauce collection—along with everything else in your house—is protected. Pretty cool, right?
Just be careful that you don’t trip the Burglar Blaster yourself because the infrared alarm only takes 40 seconds to blast anyone and anything within a 2,000-foot radius with a strong dose of Oleoresin Capsicum, a chemical compound that causes nausea and irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain, and even temporary blindness. Not to mention, you’ll have to clean house pretty well if the Burglar Blaster does go off, as aerosol capsaicin won’t just disperse into thin air.
Using pepper spray to defend your shrine to all things spicy? That’s hot. Blasting yourself and your treasured belongings with a fine mist of capsaicin? That’s not.
Posted by: Kelli Bergthold
on Nov 01, 2010
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that producing fiery foods is more than just a passion – in many parts of the world, chile production and processing is a necessity. Dried red pepper is the one of the most widely consumed spices in the world, eaten daily by one-quarter of the world’s population. Chile peppers are one of the oldest domesticated crops. Civilizations in South America grew chile peppers for food and medicinal purposes, and after peppers were introduced to other parts of the globe more than 500 years ago, chiles became important in developing nations for their economic value. Ethiopia alone consumes 466 million kilograms of pepper annually, with an estimated 400,000 women in Ethiopia processing peppers for income.
Inspired by stories of Ethiopian women bringing in income by processing peppers by hand, a team from the Hassno Plattner Design Institute at Stanford University developed the Pepper Eater—an affordable hand-cranked pepper grinder. Pepper processing is exhausting work that turns fresh peppers into higher-value products: dried flakes, seeds, and powder. The procedure can cause severe irritation in the skin, eyes, and noses from exposure to pepper oil containing capsaicin, pepper dust in the air can cause respiratory issues. The Pepper Eater produces dried pepper flakes about 2-4 times faster than current manual methods while greatly reducing the health risks associated with processing chiles.
The design team included Samuel Hamner, Megan Kerins, Siobhan Nolan, and Scott Sadlon, a group of Stanford Engineering and Business grad students. After successfully conducting an on-the-ground feasibility study in September 2009, Sam and Scott are continuing as an independent design and strategy team with the goal of implementing the Pepper Eater in Ethiopia and other developing markets. Most recently, they have partnered with Compatible Technology International and have been featured in National Geographic Magazine to help them achieve their goal and gain exposure for the project.
Interested in learning more about the project, or donating? Visit: www.thepeppereater.org.
Sources & images for this article provided by:
Posted by: Dave DeWitt
on Oct 07, 2010
For the 5+ years that the rumors and then stories about the superhot 'Bhut Jolokia' from Assam in northeast India have surfaced, I've wondered about its origin. Pods of Capsicum chinense are found all over the Caribbean, from the Scotch bonnet in Jamaica to goat peppers in Haiti to bonney peppers in Barbados. However, it is the country of Trinidad & Tobago that seems to have the largest number of land races of that species, including the Congo pepper, the Scorpion, the 7 Pot, and now the Jonah 7, pictured here. Of all of these, it's the Jonah 7 which most resembles the 'Bhut Jolokia', and the India connection to Trinidad is very clear: 40% of the people have an Indian ancestry, as compared to 37.5 % with an African ancestry. So it's my theory that sometime after the Indian migration to T&T began in 1845, some enterprising person took Jonah seeds to India and they ended up as Bhut Jolokia, or "ghost pepper" in Assamese. Recently, Marlin Bensinger, a friend of mine and the world's foremost expert on capsaicin extraction and testing, performed HPLC tests on the Jonah 7, and it was in the precise heat range of 'Bhut Jolokia'. So maybe a mystery has been solved! Thanks to Jim Duffy in San Diego, who grew out the pods and photographed them.
My esteemed colleague in Germany, Harald Zoschke, comments: "My theory is that Bhut evolved from Fatalii (which, of course could very well come from Trinidad, brought home to Africa by returning slaves). Please take a look at the attached picture - a Bhut Jolokia and a Fatalii pod from my greenhouse. To me, they look like close relatives (and there's a Red Fatalii around, too). Now, what if Bhut is a Red Fatalii that trade ships brought from its home, Central Africa, to India, hundreds of years ago. And there, it just got cross-pollinated to receive the C. frutescens gene traces that Paul Bosland's DNA test revealed. Or maybe those genes were in the Fatalii already, which a DNA test could easily prove, providing evidence for my theory. Remember, besides C. chinense, Bhut's DNA includes 7% of C. frutescens. Fatalii could have picked this up from Malagueta, which had spread early in Africa, becoming pili-pili or peri-peri. Also, while Fatalii isn't quite as hot as Bhut, both share that intense "instant burn," as opposed to the Habanero's delayed burn. And as my pic #2 shows, both share the poor innards, with very few seeds. Who knows, maybe all three are very closely related."
My comment back is that in this particular instance, Harald's 'Bhut' certainly does resemble a 'Fatalii', but pod variations within a land race are common, and sometimes the pods on the same plant have different forms. See another pod shape of the 'Bhut' at right. This is because they are land races--adapted varieties that have been growing in the same geographic area for hundreds of years--and not recently bred-to-be-true varieties. The only way to really figure this out is to compare the DNA of all these varieties.
Posted by: Kelli Bergthold
on Sep 19, 2010
Pepper spray has a long history of being used for self defense against both humans and wild animals. It’s an effective, non-lethal weapon that can keep people safe without having to resort to brute force. The active ingredient in pepper spray is oleoresin capsicum, which is a wax-like resin extracted from finely ground capsicum converted into an aerosol. The most common uses of pepper spray are against dogs and bears, which are known to attack humans and domestic animals. In Alaska, for instance, it’s common to take a can of pepper spray with on walks and other outdoor excursions just in case. In Coyote Country in the Southwestern United States, residents rely on pepper spray to protect their children and pets from hungry critters.
Now, fishermen along the Tasmanian coast in the South Pacific are trying out pepper spray on aggressive bull seals. Dangerous seal encounters are a recent phenomenon; in the past decade, as competition for food lures the animals closer to shore, aggressive bull seals are becoming a very real risk.
"People have been bowled over, literally, by the seals trying to charge past them. Divers have been nipped, they've had their fins nipped, they've been dragged underwater," says Pheroze Jungalwalla from the Tasmanian Salmonoid Growers Association.
To counter-act the attacks, the state government is encouraging fishermen to carry pepper spray. Fishermen are first trained in the use of pepper spray to prevent accidental injury. There are doubts whether pepper spray will really work against a two-ton bull seal, but it’s a possible alternative to shooting aggressive animals that are being driven into dangerous encounters by a lack of other food sources.
ABC News: Peppered Seal the New Fish Farm Defense
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