The Pungent Taste of Chili
It is an old wisdom that you taste with the tip of your tongue and that the sense of taste, is a natural guideline towards proper nutrition. I personally believe that there is lots of truth in that. The various tastes normally known are: SWEET, SOUR, SALT, BITTER, PUNGENT AND ASTRINGENT
Well, peppers or chilis do have a definite pungent taste, the hot ones at least. There are some thirty species, including some with erroneous names, The genus is Capsicum and the most common species are annuum, frutescens, chinense (erroneous), pubescens and baccatum. The common name are chili, chile or chilli, chilly, all are correct and used in different languages.
A “pseudo” taxonomist thought he found a new specie in China and called it chinense. All species of Capsicum are indigenous to the Americas, PERIOD. Chilis were reported from central and south America for thousands of years ago
Let us go back to my subject. The pungency of chilis is expressed in Units of the Scoville Scale.
Wilbur Scoville was a pharmacist of Parke Davis Labs around 1912 and designed the scale around a principle, measuring the degree of pungency diluting the source with sugary water, until the taste disappeared. The more delution needed the higher the degree of pungency the pepper has. This system works, but was later replaced by a more scientific method to measure, although the results were still expressed as Scoville Units.
The substance producing the pungent taste is capsaicin and has in pure form 15-16,000,000 Units, Bell Pepper/Paprika has 0-500 Units, Jalapeño and Chipotle up to 9,000 Units, Madame Jeanette, Habanero up to 300,000 Units, Adjuma up to 575,000 Units and the hottest peppers between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000 Units. Hot stuff hey.
What to do if you got an overdose of chili? Take no water if you swallow it, you will make it worse. Take small amounts of cold milk or yoghurt, every two or three minutes. Cocoa butter on your lip also helps, refresh from time to time.
If the contact is external, use lots of soapy water to wash it of. The substance is hydrophobic, also the reason for not using water internally.
The capsaicin content is at the highest level as the fruits are fully ripened. The seed strings contain an average of 79%, the seeds 13% and the skin 8% of capsaicin. In all cases always remove the seeds, they may damage the inner tissue of the stomach. It sure stimulates your appetite.
Enjoy your chili and if you have any questions, let me know, or just like it, I may be motivated to write a follow up. Chili and diseases, chili and health, chili and diet, chili against pain etc.
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