Can you identify this chili?
August 2, 2014 4:37 PM   Subscribe

I thought I was buying my usual bird's eye chili plants this spring, but I actually got some kind of "Thai Chili Hot Pepper" that has produced what look like relatively mild jalapenos. I'd just like to be able to estimate the Scoville units to expect before I cook with them.

These full-grown chilis haven't turned red yet (except for one tiny grape-sized chili, not pictured). They range between 2-3 inches long and are plump with a relatively blunt end. This info tag seems to match up properly with the plants, but Google searches keep turning up the pointy bird's eye variations.
posted by maudlin to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Scoville's technique was to dry and grind the chilis to powder, and mix some quantity of them with sugar-water to various dilutions -- he'd keep diluting until some portion of his tasters could no longer detect the heat.

(Last weekend I spent a frustrating time on the internets trying to get a description more specific than that, but it was mostly the same two descriptions of Scoville's process, duplicated everywhere.)

Without knowing his exact technique, you won't get the same scale numbers, you won't get Scovilles, but you could try the same thing with known chilis, and it should give you very quickly at least a relative idea of how hot the Thai chilis are compared to your birds-eyes and any standby chilies like supermarket jalapenos, which usually have a predictable heat range. The world is ready for the Maudlin Heat Unit.

Of course, if you happened to have access to a High Pressure Liquid Chromatograph, you can skip all this and measure directly. The Bed Bath & Beyond near me was all out of those, though, last weekend when I was in the market.
posted by Sunburnt at 5:53 PM on August 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

I am very familiar with chillis, Thai and otherwise. I feel quite, quite confident that those don't just look like jalapenos; they are jalapenos. Thais do not have any chillis like that - their mild ones are of the long, finger-like, more Cayenne-shape that you see in Indian cooking.
posted by smoke at 6:02 PM on August 2, 2014 [9 favorites]

I don't have any science to back this up but they look like the super-basic jalapenos I buy at Lowe's every year. Spicier than "mild" but not by much.
posted by easement1 at 7:45 PM on August 2, 2014

They look like my mystery chillies, which we have decided are apaches.
posted by Helga-woo at 2:37 AM on August 3, 2014

How big is the plant? They look like jalapeños to me too. Apache plants are typically about half the size of a jalapeño plant.
posted by missmagenta at 2:51 AM on August 3, 2014

I saw the pic and instantly thought "jalapeños", too.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 7:59 AM on August 3, 2014

I agree that they are likely basic jalapeños, which in my experience can vary in heat from family-friendly nacho mildness to - occasionally - fairly hot.
posted by lathrop at 10:14 AM on August 3, 2014

Yep, these are almost certainly jalapenos or jalapenoesque mutants. The apache chilis look very similar, but they're smaller. My plants have grown to a height of 18-24" inches, which is below the upper limit for jalapeno plants, but my back yard gets limited sun and they are in a relatively small/shallow pot. I'm pleased to have gotten so much fruit from them under these circumstances.

We tried the small ripe one with some yu choy last night and found it had relatively thick, fruity flesh and a bit of a kick, but some bird's eye chilis had to be added to balance the dish.

When time permits, I will create my own procedure for determining Maudlin Heat Units because my vast array of stuff seems short of a High Pressure Liquid Chromatograph, too.
posted by maudlin at 12:37 PM on August 3, 2014

I've grown a lot of different chillies from Bell to Bhut Jolokia, those are Jalapeno

Check out this link for a decent database of different types.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:35 PM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

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