I can still feel the heat

US Wealth Napolitano |

By: John P. Napolitano, CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST


That was how my hands were feeling at the end of the first day of November as I harvested my hot pepper garden and converted a bag full of super-hot peppers into a very hot pepper relish with a tinge of sweetness to it. If I don’t say so myself, it is a very tasty condiment if you can take the heat.

The ingredients included many different types of peppers, including but not limited to (I had to throw in

that legal line!) Habaneros, Carolina Reapers, Ghost, Cayenne, Jalapeno, Poblano, Sweet Red, Sweet Green, Caribbean Red Chiles, Italian Long Hot Chile Peppers. To some of you, this means absolutely nothing. But if you’re even a bit curious, stay with me.

Did you know that there is actually a measurement system to determine the severity of the heat from every type of pepper? The system is called the Scoville Scale, and the heat is measured in SHU’s, or Scoville Heat Units. It is BTU (British Thermal Units) of the hot pepper world.

For example, your basic sweet bell pepper has 0 SHU’s. Jalapenos have 2,500–8,000 SHU’s. And the Carolina Reaper, which is in my relish, has a SHU rating of 1,400,000–2,200,000! That’s serious heat.  Frankly, too much for anything but pepper spray or as a smaller ingredient in a bigger recipe. The recipe I created has about 15–20% of the batch in the super-hot pepper category with the rest mild to sweet peppers. Even with that light dose, this relish will take paint off the walls.

What on earth do you do with this stuff? That beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but for me it has a few really good uses. Probably the best is on sandwiches, burgers or dogs. It also works well with meats, especially those coming off the grill with a little char on it. The relish is very is helpful when you want to make a large batch of something to appeal to everyone, such as a mild chili. Add a spoonful of this relish to those who like it hot, and Voila, you have spicy chili!

The pandemic was helpful in that gloves and masks help when you brew up something with this level of toxicity. You could feel the heat when you breathed, and even with the gloves it took a full 24–36 hours for my hands to stop burning. If you are game, give me a ring and I’ll have you down to Scituate to share the heat.