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Health

New "Infinity Chili" Sounds Hotter Than Homer Simpson's "Insanity Pepper"

DiscoblogBy Joseph CalamiaSeptember 9, 2010 11:55 PM

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The "Infinity Chilli," a 1,176,182 on the Scoville scale, may be the world's hottest chili pepper. We note the previous champ, bhut jolokia, which comes in at 1,041,427, was used to ward off elephants. The Scoville scale of hotness measures a chili's amount of capsaicin, the nerve-searing chemical responsible for five-alarm fires in your mouth. We looked around to see if we could find a Scoville score for the insanity pepper that Homer Simpson tangled with in one of the best Simpsons episodes of all time, "The Mysterious Voyage of Homer." We couldn't find that, but we did find clips of Homer's first contact with the deadly chili, and his subsequent freak out. Back to the infinity vegetable: Chili experts at Warwick University have run the numbers, The Register reports, via a hot chili ranking system that calls for neutralizing the peppers altogether. Using an alcohol solution, testers must first extract the pepper's capsaicinoids, the plant's defense chemicals--which have been studied as a potential cancer treatment and have been found to kill fungi. Then the experts gradually add a sugar solution until (usually three of five) tasters just barely get a tingle. For reference, the friendly sweet pepper ranks a zero on the scale and the mild Jalapeño between 2,500 and 5,000. If that sounds a little too subjective for your taste, the American Spice Trade Association uses high performance liquid chromatography to get the exact breakdown of the chemicals in a spice sample and reports their results in "ASTA pungency units." The chili's grower, a UK company called Fire Foods, produces an Infinity Chilli Sauce that the website describes as both terrifying and hard to come by:

We are only making this sauce in small batches, as and when the chillis ripen and as and when i have the courage!!!

Related content: 80beats: Chili Peppers Got Their Spicy Kick to Keep Out Fungi DISCOVER: Chilies' Fire Is Self-Defense Against a Surprising Foe Gene Expression: 7 Days of Hot Sauce Not Exactly Rocket Science: The fiery taste of chillies is a defence against a fungus

Image: flickr/jslander

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